Thursday, October 1, 2009

Eating, Italian Style

It is no longer September in New Haven. The warm days of appetite and contentment slowly draw colder and shorter. The leaves of Elm Street turn gold, red, and amber. The more fashionable like Hans and Mendez trade golf shirts for tweed blazers, while Joeseph Shmoseph sports a pull over. September in New Haven is as short as it is beautiful, but do not sigh for too long, it will return next year before you know it. September in New Haven is replaced by a picturesque New England Autumn; the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings and of football season's beer and wing specials. Pumpkin Spice scents the air complimenting the drying leaves. White wines have been cellared in favor of robust reds. So put on your favorite New Haven College football team sweat shirt and keep an open mind and stomach. Fall in New Haven is the perfect time to collect those calories which will keep you warm during the approaching winter.

(Note: In the winter we shall write that calories consumed in our fair eating city will aid you during Santa Clause look alike competitions gaining you unparalleled popularity until the 26th of December)

In the cooler months to come look forward to pumpkin pie and warm apple cider. For now, sink your teeth into quality Italian food at Romeo and Cesare's. Italian- Americans rejoice! The doors of Romeo and Cesare's are open like the loving arms of a grandmother. We're pretty sure somewhere in Romeo and Cesare's although not your own beloved, a grandmother is at work, kneading dough or cutting tomatoes. The Gotti family did much disservice to the culture responsible for Mean Streets. Blowouts storm the streets during New Haven weekends whistling and catcalling. The food of Romeo and Cesare nullifies harmful living stereotypes provided by the armpit of Connecticut, East Haven.

Romeo and Cesare’s is the sort of place where everyone knows your name, “Hey Mendez, Hans, how have you been, half pound of the usual?” Not because the men and women working at Romeo and Cesare’s are the most interesting, or loyal of friends though they very well could be. An intimate friendship with employees at an eating establishment like this is a testament to how often your life and lunch is blessed by such great cuisine. The friendship merely being a symptom to the ailment which is freshly prepared authentic Italian-American food in your belly daily. To die of such a disease is to die a better death than both Elvis and David Carradine combined.

Romeo and Cesare’s is located on Orange Street in the East Rock neighborhood. This is a community of Yale Professionals, Yale Graduate Students, Legacies, and future Yale students currently studying in private elementary schools. In such an environment of artifice it is hard to imagine that such a place exists. It is equally as puzzling in an environment such as New Haven, where Pizza Huts and late night college pizza joints (the worst bastardization of this delicacy) thrive, that an authentic Italian-American deli can survive.

The food was served cold and handed over wrapped in white butcher paper; as if the clerk knew that we had a bottle of Montepulciano breathing and an Ermano Olmni flick waiting for us at the blog-cave. Had Olmni, or any other great Italian film director filmed our trip to Romeo and Cesare’s he would have panned slowly across the shelves of imported groceries to the young adorable cashier. Although probably not an ethnic Italian she still curses her smallest mistakes with an “Oh Marone”. The set up of the store is very Baroque. The isles are narrow and the many colors of produce and prepared food overlap, clash, blend, and compliment each other, not to mention the heavenly scent of it all, "Oh Marone!"

We selected an assortment of familiar foods which we warmed in the blogcave oven, a 1982 Kenmore. A slice of pizza neither heavy on sauce or cheese, but as Goldilocks concurred, "Just right." The sweet and flaky crust is a delight for a Pilsbury croissant roll fanatic to easily cream their pants to. The pizza costs a single dollar. A frittata of sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato, and mozzarella towered precariously in the oven, and fell swiftly, vanquished after a few forkfuls. Hans found the eggplant parmesan too light on the cheese for his taste, but the thin, skillfully cut eggplant apologized. The cold, marinated octopus was our favorite for its tender, tasty tentacles. Finishing our meal, we went to the blogcave movie theatre.

Olmi's I Fidanzati is wonderful: The tale of a young man who isolated by his new work position and location yearns for his distant lover. Hans and Mendez sympathized with the alienated man, quickly consuming the bottle of wine while overlooking the tasting notes. Slightly inebriated and wholly inspired, we sat to blog, the good smells of Romeo and Cesare's food still lingering in the kitchen. A sigh, a moment of reflection. Great food, cinema, friends, and the best restaurant blog on the web. This is what life is about, so like the Italians, live it passionately. Mangiamo.