There is only one true Italian restaurant -- back east, in that charmed province that runs along the coast, north into New England, south as far as Baltimore. Upstate, downstate, in the barrens and on the shore, just one restaurant with 10,000 names that has grown the way mushrooms grow, invisibly, inexplicably, sending runners out into dodgy neighborhoods and onto street corners once lit by trash-can fires, sprouting buds that push up through the cracked cement and grow into another Tonyâ€™s, Frankâ€™s, Mama Leoneâ€™s, Mama Taconeâ€™s or Jimmyâ€™s All-Star, another Campesinoâ€™s, another Gianelloâ€™s -- always possessive, always named.
There is only one Italian restaurant. Ten tables, sometimes a bar, sometimes a counter separating the kitchen in the back from the floor, sometimes a curtain, sometimes a door. Red-and-white checked tablecloths or green-and-white checked tablecloths, Sinatra or Louis Prima, pictures on the walls of long-gone relations in black and white; of Tuscan hillsides in oversaturated color; of garlic cloves, tomatoes, bowls of fruit.
There is only one Italian restaurant and, this week, Gennaroâ€™s Lounge on South Broadway is itâ€”a near-perfect representation of all that East Coast neighborhood style and red sauce simplicity, our one among ten thousand.
But hey, if tomato gravy and Louis Prima arenâ€™t your thing, weâ€™ve also got instructions on how to kill a man with a broken beer bottle, insider info on where to score some back-east Genny Cream Ale on tap, the final word on the Blue Parrotâ€™s infamous Wopburger, and some news about Cure Farm, Colterra and an ugly little case of he said/she said/I said that (I hope) will be settled after this week.