I don’t do restaurant reviews or talk much about them, because I eat garbage, basically. My plates do not come out from the kitchen of any joint “presented”; they just come out, food usually centered and hot — or cold– depending on what I’m eating. No matter what I am eating, it is never okay with Michelle Obama, but ask me if if I give a rat’s ass? Okay, I do. This stuff is probably killing me, but her stuff does not taste good. Millions of school kids are discovering that every day.
I digress. Back to the reqium for a little neighbood Italian restaurant,Joe’s Italian Villa, in business for 45 years.
My grocery shopping was over, so I naturally wanted something to eat. I left the chicken and eggs in the plastic sacks to the mercy of the warm weather in the car and walked forty feet over to Oak Lawn’s Clancy’s Pizza Pub. Clancy’s, opened a year, is located in a burb about 15 miles southwest of Chicago’s Loop, and is getting a good reputation. It is owned by a hot-shot chef, named, Kevin O’Kennedy, who owns two Irish pubs in Hawaii, named Mulligan’s. Yes, Hawaii. I’d been to Clancy’s twice before, got my stuff and left. Tonight it was crowded and I squeezed in between two pretty beefy guys. One of the guys was named “Al”. He is a big guy, so I’m calling him “Big Al”.
Al and I got to talking. We did so because I was bumping up against his elbow, and he wasn’t playing with his smart phone. Against the Irish music playing a few feet away, which sounded like cat being tortured (no grief here: I’m half Irish and never could stand the music), Al and I talked about neighorhood restaurants, and how they were usually better than ApplebeeChiliOutbackLoneStarTexasRoadHouseFridays.
Big Al then mentioned that he built the bar back and the bar itself. At first, it was like “right”, but then all the bartenders and servers knew him like an old lost uncle, one they liked. Unlike most “American” bars, which are usually straight affairs, where people stare at the back of the bar, this one had curves, or rather “knobs”, where people ended up facing each other, and sometimes having to talk, despite the smart phone hogging most conversation.
Big Al told me about his best friend, the former co- owner of Joe’s Italian Villa. Seems his old bud had been forced out of the strip mall location that he had occupied for decades. The strip mall owner allegedly wanted to upgrade the mall and put in a “bistro” of some sort. Just my opinon, but Bridgeview is not “bistro” territory. Big Al eyes watered up a bit, because his old friend died soon after. Joe’s Italian Villa could not find a new, suitable location, and I guess it broke his friend’s heart and resolve. I’d driven past Joe’s Italian Villa for years, but never stopped in.
Then my order came out, a pizza called the “Southsider”, with extremely thin crust, covered with pot roast and giardiniera. Yeah, I know, but it works and tastes good.
That’s it: a slice of reality and pizza at a neighborhood place one night, when one guy and another guy weren’t lost in their smart phones. I’m hoping Big Al does not sue me or anything for this story, but there are lots of stories that go on outside of Facebook and Twitter that never get told.