When I was a little boy, (moved away when I was 9) there was a pizzeria in Hillside, NJ that for me, was the benchmark of what pizza should taste like. Whenever I had pizza, I compared to that store. A few years ago, I went back there with Alicia’s Uncle Joe, a real war hero, for lunch . . over 40 years since I had last been there. Unfortunately, the pizza did not taste anything like I remembered it and while it was a great visit with Joe, I was disappointed in the meal itself.
It was 1982-83 and while I attended “mortuary college,” I was living/learning at the now closed, Schaefer & Busby Funeral Home. The vacant building still stands at 24 W. 9th St (between Race & Vine) a monument to the historic, storefront funeral home that catered to the Cincinnati, social elite.
Being downtown, I had access to several places to eat. One of those places was Scotti’s, located just around the corner on Vine St. I had gone there a few times, twice with a mentor, former teacher and still friend, Todd VanBeck. The fond memories of Scotti’s stayed in the back of my mind through the decades and when we accepted the offer to move to Cincinnati, one of the first things I did was search the web and saw that it was still there.
When I told Alicia that the first restaurant I wanted to go to was Scotti’s, I did so with a bit of trepidation as I didn’t want to let her down. She readily agreed and when time finally came for a night out, I made the reservations and assumed the risk of maybe having made a bad decision.
We arrived and my concerns evaporated as we were met at the door by Pasquale (whose aunt is the owner) and began a great evening of dining, conversation and observing.
Dining on great food. Observing a room full of people enjoying a meal and each other and watching the family servers interact with the diners.
Big portions and big value. It seemed that everyone leaving had a “to go” package because they couldn’t finish t all. Myself included.
Time created the expectations. Reality erased the concerns and created new memories.
We will return. . . soon.