Sunday, September 13, 2009
The best thing
The best thing about being in the restaurant business, and the only reason why all the long hours are worth it, is getting to share food with people. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing people enjoy a good meal. My mother realized this even before opening her restaurant, and opted for an open kitchen, so she could see be part of her guests' dining experience.
As a manager in Stone Harbor for six years, I have the privilege of overseeing the dining room seven days a week from mid June to early September, and in those months I saw many many happy guests. Luckily for us, most of our customers are regulars, and in a seasonal restaurant, it is a joy to see people come back each summer, to see how families have grown, how people have changed and yet, stayed the same. Through time, most of our regulars have become our friends. And, since eating together is really a familiar experience, some friends have become like family.
One of the great things about regular customers is that they've tried everything on the menu and nine out of ten times, have selected their favorites. Some people order the same thing so often that we've begun to associate certain dishes with certain people, so much so that when Luciano gets a ticket in the kitchen, he knows who its for without having to be told.
Even now, in my own kitchen, I cannot cook a dish without thinking of the person who loves it the most. And so, this morning, when I began making meatballs I thought of my friend Pete.
Pete and his wife Joanne are regulars at Luciano's and they usually come in with their friends Phil and Tony. From the first summer that we were open, the four of them were outgoing and comforting to me, especially when the restaurant was packed and I would run around like a mad woman, bussing tables, greeting guests, answering the phones and making sure that everyone is ok. They'd cheer me on, send me smiles from across the room, and offer me a glass of wine when I finally had a moment to breathe.Through the years we've become really good friends and as I mentioned before, good friends are just like family. So always, when I would see their names on the reservation sheet, I would make sure that Luciano had enough meatballs in stock.
Though we don't even technically have meatballs on the menu ( they are served with our ravioli) Pete has been ordering them since day one. He even mentioned them on my wedding video, which made me laugh. He really loves them and I don't blame him; they're that good. Just like mama makes, because, well, my mama does make them. And now so do I. And hopefully, after they read this blog, so will Pete and Joanne. That way he won't have to wait until next summer for a juicy bite.
Roll up your sleeves for these because you need to use your hands!
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
2 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly incorporated. Roll meat into a small, tight ball using the palms of your hands ( some people use a small ice cream scoop to get meatballs that are all the same size). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until fully browned and cooked through.
These go great with my meat sauce