Loving Annie asked me a couple of questions pertaining to my last post and wanting to own a restaurant. So that really got me thinking – if it was at all possible and money was no object, what type of restaurant would I own, and what food would I serve, etc. So here is my dream. By the way, I look like Sophia Loren in this dream, in a peasant dress and half apron, with bare feet:
First, the location - I would love a multi-story building on the water somewhere, on a hill in a mild climate, but not in a big city. I want garden space so I can grow all of my own herbs and produce. I want to go outside at sunrise in my dewy garden with a basket and pick the herbs I need for the day. The restaurant will be in the ground floor, and we will live in the remaining space in the building. It will not be a big place; I want more of a café that can accommodate perhaps 30 people at a time. I want a big rustic building, with lots of stone and wrought iron railings and balconies, and big Italian tiles on the floors that are cool on your bare feet on a warm day. I want big wide open windows with long gauzy curtains so a nice breeze blows through all the time.
The location near the water is important because I want fresh seafood on the menu. There will be plenty of outdoor patio space out front and on the side for my quests to dine al fresco, with black wrought iron fencing. I love to eat outdoors. There will be beautiful plants and trees all over the property, to give the customers a feeling of seclusion while they are dining, but not too much as to block the fabulous view of the rolling countryside and water. There will be fragrant blossoms on the trees, the perfume of which will gently waft over you when the breeze blows the right way. And when people smell that fragrance elsewhere, it will remind them of my place and our town.
Second, the décor – Casual with an Italian flair, perhaps - I would have wrought iron tables and chairs, but the chairs would be comfortable with cushions, so passers-by would want to stop and sit for a long while to enjoy their meal and wine. No one would be rushed out of my restaurant. Candles in Chianti bottles, with the wax spilling down them, and a small bouquet of fresh flowers. I want linen napkins and tablecloths – not to be fancy but just to make everyone feel special. Mismatched silverware and serving dishes and plates. Wooden bread bowls, and mismatched wine glasses. If someone loves the glass their wine is served in, they can go ahead and have it.
Now, for the menu – I want it simple, with fresh ingredients. This is the way I would like to be able to eat all of the time.
For breakfast, I will serve my homemade scones and biscotti and freshly baked breads, and homemade spreads and fruit. Lots of good strong coffee and real cream. (My husband asked if there would be scrapple – absolutely not!)
For lunch, it will be a few unusual sandwiches with fresh meat and cheeses, and produce from my garden on freshly baked seasoned flatbreads and each table will get a bowl of roasted red peppers and olives. One soup every day, and a Homemade personal-sized pizza on fresh crust with only fresh ingredients – crushed tomatoes from the garden, basil, garlic, olive oil, cheeses. Each dish will come with a small green salad on the side – When we were in London all the food was served with a salad on the plate and I loved that. Some sandwiches will be grilled. And I will allow customers to make special requests, so if they don’t see something they like on the menu, I will accommodate them if I can. There will also be a few seafood choices – but no heavy cream sauces, only light citrusy, wine-based or tomato sauces with basil and garlic.
Dinner – a good seafood selection, broiled or sautéed or grilled, nothing fried. One good soup. Some homemade pasta, but again, no heavy sauces. The meat selection would depend on the region. I would not have a snobby wine cellar. I want to feature all of the local wineries, to give customers a choice of a few good affordable wines. And our service would be stellar – I have been in the customer service business for over 25 years, and would strive to give everyone the service they deserve.
Lastly, dessert – complimentary plates of small fresh cookies. If they preferred something else, they can order Tira Misu, my absolute favorite, and homemade sorbets, and other biscotti and pastries. I would also have assorted coffees.
Did I miss anything? Of course, my whole family would be working and helping there. I would have to move everyone and their spouses with us.
Wow, this post was a lot of fun to do. I think I’ve captured everything I want. I believe I must now move to Italy to make this dream come true. That is where I can picture it. Wow.