Thursday, November 30, 2006

Live Piano and Wine with Rigatoni and Olive Oil

Orso’s: (Old Town) Chicago
1401 N. Wells St.

Orso’s takes me back to one of many dinners out with Grandpa. It was Phoenix many years ago, and Grandpa would secure a table for the family from where we could hear the live pianist. It’d be one restaurant that seemed to be from a selection of Grandpa’s favorite spots –where I think he knew everyone very well.

Tonight, Orso’s did it right for me: vegan-friendly service from the door and tableside piano in a room with Old World Chicago charm. The live pianist smoothed my wine away in a setting that warmed me up to the cold outside: wood walls partially wrapping the outer wall tables, tinned ceilings, glass chandeliers and a wooden bar in soothingly dim light. The staff didn’t flinch at cooking a good vegan Rigatoni (I love the fat noodles) loaded with olive oil, garlic, fresh broccoli, spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Loaded. When the plate came, it looked like more veggies than pasta. Before dinner was over, I was able to taste some of a friend's tasty red sauce. The vents in the floor below me had been warming my jacket –perfect prep to wait for the North Avenue bus in freezing rain that’s due to bring us the season’s first snow storm. My smoke-hating pals might not have liked what was coming from the nearby bar, but I wouldn’t let that stop me from going back to days with Grandpa.


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