Last night we had arrived in Santa Agata, the little town outside of Sorrento. We went to dinner at a local restaurant (oh -- I mean the local restaurant), and it was so different from Umbria and yet still so distinctively Italian!
We walked into the bar area where they were smoking and watching soccer. My mom asked if they were a restaurant, and if they were open. Yes, on both counts! The waiter (with a curly mop of hair and luxuriant dark eyebrows) showed us to a table and gave us menus.
Have I told you yet that we were the only ones there? And that he turned the lights on in the kitchen as we were sitting down?
The menu was very different from our typical Umbrian or Tuscan menu -- mostly fish and seafood, and very little meat. Makes sense! This is a coastal area.
As we were deciding, the waiter came up and said he'd bring us some antipasti -- "Great!" we said, having no clue what we would get. Well, he brought out the tastiest things EVER. Some marinated anchovies (I have to confess that I was a wimp so I can't give a first-hand account on those, but they got rave reviews from my parents), some battered (in a really yummy muffin-textured batter, but with lots of parsley) shrimp, some fried dough balls that had ricotta in them, and -- the most amazing thing ever -- what he called "calamarini". They were the tiniest little squid -- about an inch in length -- that had the slightest suggestion of batter with a little salt and pepper, and had then been deep-fried. They arrived in little cones made out of thin wood and came with tiny plastic forks. Another bit of yumminess -- bruschetta with tomatoes on top. Mmmm.
My parents asked whether the fish was fresh. To prove it, he brought out a platter of dead seafood for them to inspect. It arrived back on the table shortly thereafter, having been applied to a grill.
While we were eating, he started inspecting his hair in the mirror located in the restaurant (about 20 feet from the table), pulling down sideburns, fluffing the top of the head, etc. Quite hilarious.
When we had finished our meal, he turned the light back off in the kitchen, and brought out a leftover piece of cake (about 1/4 of the cake) wrapped in a brown paper bag. He said it was a speciality of the area for Easter. We thanked him, and off we went back to the house.
p.s. The cake turned out to be like colomba, but it had a boiled egg in it -- still in its shell!