Monday, May 21, 2007

Party of the Millenium: A.V Ristoranti Italiano - March 3rd, 2007 [L]

Going back in time to catch up. Maybe two more posts in this "series". The pictures I uploaded today have loss some definition. For some reason. Sorry. We haven't lost teeth just pixels, I swear! The ones I linked yesterday and saved in the draft are fine. I'd wait for a response from blogger but then I'd never get this posted.....

The Amazing Dani
March 3rd, 2007

Dinner with Kyle & Courtney at A.V. Ristorante Italiano

From a review:

A.V. is short for the original owners, husband and wife Augusto and Assunta Vasaio -- Gus and Sue -- and the restaurant is still in the family two Augustos further on.

It has been a Washington institution for nearly 60 years, and a sort of Rorschach test for at least 10, but after several reprieves, the end of A.V. Ristorante Italiano may be near...The place itself is a "Sopranos" stage set: a series of smallish, dark rooms painted bordello red and crowded with photos and kitsch....The jukebox is still stocked only with opera, many tracks of which are touchingly worn, and the huge 18th-century fireplace dwarfs its own andirons. There is still a folding-door public phone booth near the kitchen. And the "piazza" -- for concrete or not, you can't possibly refer to something with a fountain of Poseidon as a patio -- remains, though the jungle of plastic greenery and Christmas lights I remember are gone. (There is one brighter party room in the back, with an impressive marble bar, but somehow that's not where the action is.)...

Piazza (just left of entrance):


Right & North of entrance - 7th st side (Place is huge):

I often passed by it thinking “What a dive. Must be great I-talian”. It opened in 1949 and is one of the oldest Italian restaurants in DC. I despise high-end Italian Restaurants. And will confess I’ve never really eaten at one. I look at the menu and think “How’s this Italian?” I expect the standard fare, plastic red & white checkered table clothes with cigarette burns, kitche, tacky decorations, and old Italians. IN DC, it seems to be a difficult thing to find. So when I heard AV was closing, I was determined to eat there. Dani set up a dinner date; us along with Courtney & Kyle. 7PM, Saturday.

The Stove

Dani & I started pre-dinner festivities with a drink or two. While getting ready and cleaning up, Dani dropped a sponge behind the stove. No problem, I thought, especially with our ultramodern kitchen. I go to the stove and figure I can probably pull it out from the wall. I lift it, using the oven handle and……………….BAM! I pull the stove door off and it slams into my right shin! Again, this is an ultra-mod, stainless steel stove. The top is several layers of components that come apart, no hinges, for easy cleaning. The door has these hook like hinges and is heavy as fuck. Man my shin kills. Thank God for the booze. It appears the door is supposed to be removable (that’s what the hooky-hinge things are for). It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to get it back on. It shouldn’t be any trouble for two people with a few degrees between them to figure out how to get the door back on. Drinks or no drinks. At least in theory. And y’all might think it only takes common sense. For those that do I invite you over. Get the door back on in under an hour and drinks are on me. Scott might be able to do it, Mr Logic Mechanic. But we couldn’t. And Man was I getting frustrated. And I hurt. And we had Dinner Reservations. What I could do is Jerry-rig it with bungee cords. I do rock at Jerry-rigging. So, with the door closed, we left.

The Walk

A.V. Ristoranti Italiano is at 607 New York Avenue NW, 1.2mi from our Apt. Reservations were for 7. Dani thought we should head out by 6:30. it’s an easy walk down Rhode Island then South down 6th St. Shouldn’t take more than 15min. As we get within sight something happens. Dani isn’t well. She’s feeling faint. I suggest we walk the block and a half to the restaurant. She declines, saying she needs to sit now. We go to the steps of a police station, on the opposite corner of 7th & New York. I can see the restaurant. Oh well. Don’t want her to pass out. While we sit she text’s Courtney (a few times) to tell her will be there shortly.

An Arrival Like No Other.

This is difficult to describe. It was slo-mo. My brain was assaulted with images that didn’t fit.

Dani starts to feel better and we arrive at A.V. She gives our reservation name to a Host and he tells us our party is in the back. At least I think it was a host. He left us to fend for ourselves. AV is cavernous – multiple rooms and bars. Dani casually request I take the lead. As I weave my way to the back room and enter, I see Courtney. I see Courtney sitting with a bunch of people. How strange, I think. Guess she ran into people she knows. What a co-ink-e-dink. As I get closer I notice it’s a huge party of people that Courtney’s hanging out with. As I get closer Still I notice I know all these people………………..also. People from everywhere in my life…………….I stop in my tracks. Yes, my jaw hits the floor. Not literally. Actually. I turn to Dani. I’m stunned. Flabbergasted. Speechless. She sits me down in the middle of a table containing ~30 friends of Mine. I am dumbfounded. In a state of semi shock. To my right is a sea of friends from DC. To my left are former co-workers, from the ex-burbs of Virginia. Also are some fantastic backpacking friends. Our farmer are further down. And sitting across from me would be my Best friend Andy. From Fredonia, NY. Our hometown.

I think they shouted happy birthday to me. A lifetime after I arrived. Somewhere after it dawned on me that I knew everyone and before I sat. “Birthday? My Birthday isn’t for 5 days………………..”

Forget the ugly dude - look at that bar!

I can’t process this. It’s all out of context. I was expecting Kyle & Courtney and that’s all I saw when I arrived. Everyone else was out of context and invisible. I stare at Andy. I ask him “What the Fuck are you doing here?” I stare at some other people and wonder what they’re doing in DC. Why are all the DC people here? I ask Andy again: “What the Fuck are you doing here?” One of my former co-workers/friends point to some of my other friends and ask me who they are. I fumble for names. I know them. I know them well. But why are they here? I look at Andy again….”What the Fuck are you doing here?”

I only had two drinks before I got there. But I’m so blown out of the water. Clayton asks my poison. “Beer and Bourbon, please. Makers will do.” This is not the time for me to be casually sippin’ or shy about my habits.


My Good Friend from Home:
Andy. Known him since the 80’s

My Good DC Friends
Zoe & Kate
Courtney & Kyle
Clayton, Lynn and Sophie
Krissi & Reece

My Good Virginia Friends:
Leigh & Maurice

My Good Farmer Friends (where we got married)
Eric & Lori

My Good Backpacking Friends
Katie (Philadelphia)
Kim & Antonio (New Jersey)
Mark & Janet (Baltimore)

My best friend and unbeknownst to me most devious love

Hindsight stuff.

No ones ever done anything like this for me ever. Nothing close. And Dani really isn’t that good from keeping the smallest details from me. She always has this look. Or so I thought……….

I would find out later that this was months in planning. Dani “broke into” my gmail and scoured it for friends. Breaking in required that she click on bookmarks. Gleaning it for names she recognized was not so easy. On one email regarding the surprise party– she accidently CC’d me. I got a call and she said “Please, if you love me you will delete the email I just sent you without reading it.” She explained that it regarded gift ideas for me. I said “OK” and whacked it. She was kind of begging me to get a haircut. It was getting a little crazy but I was enjoying being able to grow my hair in a fabulous luxurious way. :D She cleaned our apartment like she was expecting company. She bought extra beer for the weekend in case “Kyle & Courtney” were dropping by after dinner. She seemed more than calm when I “ripped” the stove door off. And of course, Dani getting "ill" less than a block from the restaurant and wanting to blop down right there. She was texting, making sure everyone was inside. Nice feign, lover.

Back Room

So there we all are. In the backroom of the tackiest Italian Restaurant I had ever seen. Places like Buca di Beppo try to be tacky and that makes them pseudo kitschy. This place didn’t try to be tacky. They were Old World I-Talians so their decorative sense is…..just tacky. I’ll never forget the 5ft tall alabaster Leaning Tower of Pisa next to us. LOL! The servers were surely but in an odd friendly way, the food, served family style for us, was borderline terrible, the Chianti just barely, but the party was the most amazing event ever!!!! Then people shocked me again by handing me gifts. “Fuck”. I thought the surprise party was more than enough of a gift. Antonio got me a scotch and beer. I drank copious beer and whiskey/ky. And some “lovely” Chianti. Dani the whole time was playing hostess. Working the table, making sure I got everything I needed. I did a few rounds of the table. Just chatting and having a Grand Ole Time. But it’s all one extremely happy blur. Then my bday cake came – a fallen Tiramisu. Ugly but fantastic. Best part of the dinner

Alabaster Masterpiece!

Post party party.

We close the place. Very inebriated, say our goodbyes and then invite all to some more fun. Actually, Dani had invited Anyone who wanted a place to crash. So back to our apartment with Andy, Kim, and Antonio. How anyone drove is beyond me (shhhhhhhh?). Back home I break out one of the gifts – Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Can’t get it this side of the pond. Antonio and I drink it. I drink Dani's. He drinks Kim’s………and maybe I drank Andy’s. Laphroaig Scotch is not for many. Strong Islay…peaty smoky heaven to me. Poison to others. Down them and we’re off to DC9, a nice hole in the wall about 7 blocks away. We get there and are somewhat inebriated. Time no longer has meaning to me. We pull up to the bar and get some beers. I believe I am not aware of much at this point. Then Antonio orders a round of shots. Its strawberry shortcake. Nastiest, sweetest shot I’ve ever done. Antonio must have gone crazy. But I can not refuse. Then I drink half of Dani’s. Antonio orders another one. I can’t figure out if he’s a sadist or a masochist. I think I did all of Dani’s. At this point, Antonio becomes really sloppy…….I think at one point he went out to smoke and he passed out. Maybe. At least that’s what I was told. I was quite gone. After a while we went to Ben’s Chili Bowl. Apparently, Andy needed food ASAP……so I was told the next day. Boy did he not know what he was in store for. It was 4 blocks away and I love it.

Ben's Chili Bowl

It was after closing so Ben’s was packed. For some reason, we were seated with 3 strangers. I was confused. Later, it was explained to me that was the only way to be seated ASAP and get service. But I was too drunk and getting funnier as the night went on, of course. Apparently I berated these people. Three white as wonder bread suburbanites. Two women, one man. I kept asking…….where they were from. Annoyed that they were here. I do recall hating one of the girls. She was really annoying. I swear! At some point, Antonio had passed out in his food. So I was told the next day. The place had skeered Andy and he ordered a veggie burger. I wolfed down my usual - a chili half-smoke and fries. Time to go. Antonio was having a hard time walking. So I was told the next day. Dani asked me to flag a cab. I said we could walk and she flashed me The Sign. I walked into the street and almost grabbed the next cab. I believe it was an uneventful ride home and we passed out pretty quickly.

The next morning was rough. I felt kind of ill early morning. Strawberry shortcake shots almost did me in. I can't remember the last time I vomited. I came so close this morning. Uggggh. Kim & Antonio packed up and left. Andy decided to stick around. It was slooooooooooow going. For me at least. We hung out, ate, went to Dupont and Whole Foods. Drank lots of coffee and water. Dani semi-chastised me for my behavior at Ben's but I just replied with "it was my night, dammit!" :D Andy Fixed things (of course) and Entertained us. Sunday was spent as Sundays should be – lazily. And then Andy was off.

All in all, the best damn party of my life and an amazing weekend. Thank you, my Love.

there are some holes in the story.....for various reasons........feel free to comment.


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