Songs from an Italian Restaurant

We all make mistakes.  Mine was trusting some random website recommending an osteria in the Brera area.  It was my last night in Milan and I was determined to eat well.  Friends had suggested the area.  It was well-reviewed on the net.  I had the receptionist book me a table – just to make sure.  But as soon as I saw it’s many empty tables, I knew the night that was ahead.  But I try not to trust my instincts as often as possible, so allowed the maitre d to lead me into the tacky decor of L’Osteria Brera.

It hadn’t been a good night.  It was one of those evenings where you just keep missing, event after event.  I’d planned to see the new museum of Contemporary Art next to the Duomo.  It was open to 2300, according to the website.  Except I read it wrong and it was open to 2300 on Thursday and Saturday.  It was Friday.  Ok, no worries.  I headed off to my next jaunt, catching the subway a couple of stops out to go to a bar that Time Out recommended called Volo.  I walked back and forth along the street, confused about where this bar was.  Eventually I even turned Data Roaming on and let the map guide me.  It was easy to see why I’d missed the bar.  It had recently burned down, from what I could tell.  Ok…wasted trip out to here.  It was getting close to time to try this famed Osteria, so I went back in.  Quick admire of the Duomo and then I thought – yes, I have time for an aperitivo at G Lounge.

G Lounge – apparently a hot nightspot.  I went there last night and asked for my new favourite Milanese cocktail – sbagliate.  They were very confused.  I asked again.  No response.  After I described the ingredients – Campari, Antico Ross and Spumante, they said “Ah, spagliato!”  Note the one vowel difference.  Ironically enough, “spagliate” means “wrong” in Italian.  As I lurked past the Palace onto my second G Lounge trip I thought – I’m running out of time and must be at this 5 star Italian restaurant shortly.  So I veered back to the Piazza de Duomo, through the Vittoria Emanuele shopping mall, past La Scala and on my way.  This was my first walk past when I considered not going in, and just letting my reservation lapse.  I wish I had.  But instead I went and had an aperitivo, un sbagliato, at Okida, nearby. 10 Euro (standard) for a cocktail and plenty of “free” food.

The time came and I faced up to my reservation.  First they tried to force me to sit out front.  I didn’t feel like playing into their marketing game, so went inside.  I sat at my table, pulled out Esquire and thought – this will be lovely.  I had 60 Euro in my wallet, surely enough for two courses and wine.   Then I started to pay attention to the music – easy enough in the barely attended restaurant.   I knew then I’d made a terrible mistake – they were playing –

  • Making Love Out of Nothing at All – Air Supply

I like this song.  I first saw it performed by Carried Underwood on American Idol Season 2 and have been partial ever since.  But I do not wish to hear it in an authentic Italian restaurant.  The waiter turns up and I order my half-bottle of Sangiovese, ravioli and beef with rosemary and potatoes.  I’ve added it up – I shall make it under the 60 Euro easily.  Water appears, fairly unbidden.

  • La Isla Bonita – Madonna

Now, I love this song.  But it felt very disconnected to Air Supply.  I knew that a magical train of songs were going to appear, and pulled out the iPhone to record them.

  • Beauty and the Beast – Celine and Peabo

My goodness.  Any ambience left ran screaming out the door at this manufactured Disney ballad.  By now the complimentary glass of champagne (ha!) had arrived.  If I hadn’t already figured out this was standard I would’ve been impressed.

  • I Ain’t Missing You At All – John Waite (apparently)

I know this song perfectly, and yet have never heard of the singer who took it to wherever it landed on the charts.  I felt like I was in a time warp where I needed to wear my sunglasses at night and considered calling the Ghostbusters.

The wine appeared.  It was fine.  Tasted like the still water, sadly.  Read an amusing article on Simon Pegg where his best friend had to guess what he liked and some rapper I’ve never heard of called Dizzy Rascal.

  • Time After Time – Cindy Lauper

Everyone loves this song.  But who wants to feel melancholy over ravioli?  Which was my first course.  Except saffron risotto turned up.  Which I loathe.  So I sent it back.  And what did I find?

  • I Finally Found Someone – Bryan Adams and Barbra Streisand

This is where I started laughing.  And really started enjoying my night.  The service was a joke, the restaurant clearly below par, and now one of the worst songs inflicted on humanity was playing.  What a terrible mix!  Barbra and Bryan.  As sexy as Simon Pegg eating saffron risotto.  The ravioli finally came.  It was dry.  Really did taste like eating “little pillows”.

  • You Can’t Hurry Love – Phil Collins

What possessed him to cover this song?  What possessed the greater public to turn “Groovy Kind of Love” into the number one song of the year?  Why was I gnawing this ravioli?  So many questions.

  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Elton John

What Barbra set me up for, Elton finished.  This song is dreck.  The lyrics “kings and vagabonds” are like aural rape.  Sadly, this used to be in my audition repertoire and I once scored a Disney job singing it.  I ended up having to sing “Sleigh Ride” three tones too high in the City Square because of it, so I guess the joke was on me.  And the public.

  • Random Italian Song

The chef sauntered through at this point, singing along with this song.  Better that than “La Isla Bonita” I guess.  The wine was getting low, but no more tasty.  The water, mostly undrunk.  Bread, untouched.  I’m still sort of not eating carbs, except for every meal in Milan.

  • I Want to Know What Love Is – maybe Tina Arena?

I can’t say this for a fact.  And I do have the internet at my disposal.  But I am sure this was Tina Arena singing the Foreigner classic.  I will now check to see if this has occurred.  Thanks Wikipedia – it happened in 1998.  Mick Jones produced it.  I wish he’d produced my ravioli.

The beef and rosemary potatoes arrived.  The plate was so hot it was sizzling.  The waiter said “Don’t touch it, very hot”.  I assured him that at least two of my senses had already given me that info.  I wish I could say the meal turned around here.  But like the songlist, it continued on it’s mediocre way.

  • I Just Called to Say I Love You – in Italian

Heaven.  Better than a dessert.  Certainly one that this place was offering.  Dreadful song, made worse by being in Italian.  Only hearing a Vietnamese cover could have topped it.  A crowd of people walked in – I wanted to be the boy on the crows nest of the Titanic and say “Ice ahead!” but I know so little Italian at this point.  I simply sawed through my beef and waited for the next song.  The new group were so loud the music went under but I could hear –

  • something by Rod Stewart

Good to know that I would have hated it.  The meal was done.  Dessert was offered and declined.  The bill brought over.  I went to settle with cash, but the theme of the evening continued and the bill came to $62 Euro.  They’d charged for the water, the service (ha!) and the coperto.  I’m guessing that was the bread.  I had $60.  I felt quite happy parting with my card, as it certified the 100% crappiness of the meal.  But there was more!

The maitre d then came over with a glass bowl of jelly dinosaurs.  As an after-dinner treat.  A jelly dinosaur.  In Italy.

The bowl of jelly dinosaurs

Well, I ate that jelly dinosaur with as much contempt as I could muster, signed the bill (no tip! of course, the service charge was already in) and left to the sounds of –

  • I Said I Loved You But I Lied – Michael Bolton

Which is exactly how my conversation with the waiter went, when he asked about my meal.

Published by bryantandfrank

Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank make musicals. And other things.

4 thoughts on “Songs from an Italian Restaurant

  1. La Isla Bonita, Time After Time these are very popular songs in Italy. Every italian love to this song even foreigners also. You did not mention some of my favorite songs here. i am waiting for your next post where i hope i could find more my favorite songs.
    thanks for sharing!

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