Posted by: lisetta | May 5, 2008

Daydreams

When I first moved to Philly, Pizza Rustica at 36th and Chestnut was owned and operated by this friendly Italian couple. The pizzaiolo was this handsome bald guy who liked to flirt with customers. Pizza was good – the margherita was sprinkled with the pizzaiolo’s ‘family secret’ mixture of fresh herbs. I remember being surprised by the rosemary (a longtime favorite spice I had only had on Ligurian foccaccia and Giuseppe’s father’s potato rosemary pie).  I remember hearing Franco Battiato music playing in the background on my first visit.

Today’s takeout visit was marred by noise from the street and the harsh voice of the ‘new’ owner, whom I’ve never witnessed speaking a kind word to her employees or customers. (Disclaimer: I’ve been in the place maybe three or four times in the past year – not exactly a representative sample). The counter and menu are cluttered; cases of beer stacked on the floor. The place caters now to the undergrads – smart marketing move, but sad for the customers who are actually seeking a taste of Italy. 

My colleagues insist that the brie and caramelized onion sandwich is delicious, but I ordered prosciutto e mozzarella, for $6.99. The clerk asked me if I wanted it hot or cold. Ugh. The sandwich came wrapped in deli paper, on a giant airy bread lacking flavor, with a hard crust that cuts the palate.  ‘Dressed’ with olive oil, basil and sun-dried tomato, its prosciutto was salty and mozzarella slightly acidic (i.e. not fresh). Sigh. 

     I associate Battiato with a month I spent in Reggio Calabria almost 20 years ago (gasp!), listening to this album on a cassette tape I played on may Walkman (gasp again!). Hearing the music at Pizza Rustica a few years back inspired me to buy a Battiato CD on my next trip to Italy. I play it every once in a while – still like the repetitive simplicity of the tunes, and the fact that I can understand the words. LOL. 

Check out La Bandiera Bianca: you don’t need to understand the words, but if you want them click here.

 

Only a few more weeks until I’m back in Italy, where I’ll surely find a prosciutto e mozzarella sandwich worth getting excited about. 

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