The Home Team / I'll have the cavatelli
Published 6:08 am, Friday, November 29, 2013
I get a bear hug from Angelo, and my wife gets a kiss as we come in out of the cold.
"Ah, it must be Sunday," he says with a big grin.
All right, he's got us pegged. We're creatures of habit. We stop to eat at the Red Fox in Winhall on the way up for Vermont winter weekends, and Pane Bene, right here in Westport, on the way back.
At the bar, Rossella smiles hello, sets up two places and pours two glasses of Valpolicella before we're even seated.
She sees me and my wife eyeing the specials, and she laughs.
"You look and you look," she says, "and then it's cavatelli con salsiccia for you, and fettucine Pavarotti for Carol."
We can't argue. She's absolutely right.
Rossella has heard my theory about why there's no shame in falling back on the same order, and grants that there's some logic to it.
So has Denise at the dear departed Tucker's, one of our go-to area taverns before it closed its doors last summer.
Denise would watch us study the specials, brilliantly scripted on the chalkboard up near the always-10-minutes-fast clock.
She'd patiently describe the veal piccata that I'd ask about. And all the time she'd know perfectly well that I was going to order the house salad with vinaigrette and a half rack of ribs, and that Carol would go for the artisan salad and an open-faced London broil steak sandwich, and that each of us would have a glass of Menage a Trois California red wine.
Of course I order the ribs. I love ribs. I love them with absolutely no fat, and drenched in barbecue sauces.
I've had ribs in St. Louis and Kansas City, and most of the barbecue capitals of the U.S. of A. -- and I've always liked the ribs at Tucker's, right here in Fairfield, the best.
Yes, better than Jack's Bar-B-Que in Nashville. Better than Stubbs in Austin. So why wouldn't I order the ribs at Tucker's whenever I'm at Tucker's?
All right, so here's my theory.
If the only restaurants we ever went to were Pane Bene and Tucker's, and if the only dishes I ever ordered were cavatelli at one and ribs at the other, then yes, that would be a little boring.
And predictable. And would not make for a very varied diet.
But they're not.
As I mentioned, on Friday nights in winter you can often find us in Vermont at the Red Fox, where I'll order a bowl of chili with jalapenos along with their spectacular "fancy salad" -- chock full of whole black olives and other delicacies.
Here in Westport, before or after a movie on a Saturday night, it's gotta be Dunville's.
Dan will give us his movie review, and then deliver Philly cheesesteaks to both of us. I'll take all the peppers and mushrooms that Carol doesn't want.
For a quick hot snack in the downtime between the 4 o'clock game and "Sunday Night Football," it's wings at Archie Moore's.
For a weekday dinner-watching-hoops when Carol's out of town, I'll make myself comfortable on a bar stool at the Gray Goose and have the chicken flatbread pizzetta.
And for a nice sunny, leisurely lunch when my sister's in town for a visit, it's definitely the spaghetti puttanesca at Positano's, down near Compo Beach.
The bottom line is that my wife and I do tend to order the same thing pretty much every time we show up at one of our go-to spots.
But since we have a lot of go-to spots, we're actually eating a nice variety of dishes -- while still ordering our favorite dish at each of our favorite restaurants.
So yes, Rossella, and Denise, and Dan -- we're going to keep reading those tempting offerings on your "specials" boards.
And then we're going to go ahead and order just what we've always ordered.
Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, can be followed on his blog "Beagle Man" on the Westport News website -- http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman. Hank can be followed on Twitter @BeagleManHank and reached by email at DoubleH50@gmail.com.