La Scala (di vivere)

As I look back, September 7 was a usual Saturday; had coffee with friends, picked up my partner-in-crime from work and then our usual antics. A quick visit with Ma and Pa Hensel followed by lunch. Then we settled in with friend Mark, where we sat by his pool and talked about all of life’s situations and solutions. There we were joined by two of my cousins, who are also Mark’s classmates. One other characteristic about certain friends is that the friendship blurs the line of family. Beyond bloodlines, he is a part of mine.

Mark is an honest man who defines friendship. When his name is mentioned the frenzied interjection is “I love Mark!” He is kind, generous and serious at the root. He is open and welcoming to all. His sense of humor is limitless. I am proud to be welcome in his life.

Pride is a common theme to advancement and growth. We had occasion to jointly celebrate advancements of the LGBT community in our city, on that same day. Worcester Gay Pride was celebrated with a parade, festival, block party and much cheer. The celebration, which is slowly replacing the grass roots and sometimes dangerous fight for equality, is becoming a touch-point of jubilant reflection. Reflection and pride go together. We’ve come along way baby! Loretta Lynn, Virginia Slims, she loves him, he loved him, she changed into him…it’s all growth and success! Success because, more often than ever, education prevails over terror. The link here is that Mark took great time to learn about me and tell me that we both appreciated hims. We were friends first. We built trust first. The bond between us is the desire to be kind, generous and seriously work on the advancement of our community; 01604, Italians and LGBTs.

la scala MG_0847-2-150x150Pride is a precursor to success in all parts of life including business. Spencer and I wrapped our Saturday with a romantic dinner at one of my life time favorite restaurants. A location with ties to family, pride and cultural foods. Childhood memories of eating La Scala help me recall the days when Dad and I would enter any room and were welcomed with joy and positive attention. Sometimes we ordered so much take out food that we left with Cousin Tom’s dishes wrapped in saran wrap. We bought from Cousin Tom because La Scala measured up.  Today, me and my foodie buddy will wait for two seats at a bar or the corner booth for the divine foods that are offered by La Scala. We are remembered by wait staff and enjoy the comfort of dining with options like “sure, we can do that,” or “absolutely, I’ll make that special for you.” Today, La Scala measures up. Zona and Leto have four letters…we may be cousins.

Our visit included:

  • Signature Sausage Antipasto (The menu states “The looks of this dish say it all!” and I can only add mountainous deliciousness. We took more than half home and on day 2 and day 3 it was still delicious! $14),
  • Eggplant Rollotini (An offering of thinly sliced eggplant rolled with ricotta and spinach and topped with red sauce and mozzarella cheese. $pecial),
  • Summer Chicken (Sauteed chicken with snap peas & artichokes in a roasted red pepper white wine sauce. $16).
  • One of our two favorite waitresses
    • Excited to see us, moreso I believe that she’s excited to be at work.
    • Happy to help us enjoy our experience; willing to serve the lunch portion of the antipasto and make decaf coffee.
    • Attentive to every request. Checked in/on/up, very great!

lascala MG_0840I need to go back to pride. Not that I really left. La Scala is a family business that is continuing the legacy of a prior family. My family, to be exact. The prior owners are my father’s cousins, once or more removed but italians don’t see that dividing line. Cousin Tom ran the restaurant until he retired and the New La Scala family is keeping up with the growth and the freshness that is necessary to keep a competitive edge in any food business. Thank you Kevin and Maria. A sweet part of their success is they’re always there. The Zona’s have pride. Let’s have a parade!

Reflect, Repeat and Revisit goodness and Enjoy!

photo credits: Worcester Magazine and La Scala Website

Oh Boy! The Boynton

boynton-family-restaurantOn certain Tuesday nights, my friend Tina and I go to “get soup” at The Boynton. Truth is, for me, it’s soup for the soul. It is for her, too, but she also loves their Chicken Rice Soup ($3.99). A Comforting Chicken Stock with an abundance of Rice, Chicken and bits of Carrots.

The Comfort continues in our conversation. Tina is a life gift. She’s a lady that leaves a mark on a person’s life. A good woman. No doubts here. We are growing people and we cheer each other on. We take time to talk to each other and listen to each other too.

The Boynton has grown quite a bit during its time in Worcester. I started enjoying their good food when they were a pub and a neighboring pizza shop. The bartender or, on certain nights, a waitress would assist with food. As you know, I am here for food, so all I’ll mention about the drinks is: they don’t skimp.

The Boynton’s food is indulgent. In the last 15-20 years, the growth of the business has been revolutionary. They’ve:

  1. Remodeled and reorganized.
  2. Rebuilt the pizza shop into a full-sized state-of-the-art all-stainless-steel, shiny, new kitchen.
  3. Implemented an entirely new menu.
  4. Purchased neighboring property to increase the size of the parking area.
  5. Grew more and more. They even put dining room additions onto the dining room additions!

It’s great!! This growth was mandatory. The Boynton is packed on most Tuesday nights at nearly 10pm. The energy is high and environment relaxed with populations of all ages and walks of life coming together. The table and bar service is really good. I’ve never been wary of this destination. Click here to make a reservation and beat the crowd.

boynton_barThis past week, we ventured there after Tina got out of work. I arrived first and secured a table on the outer border of the main bar area. Our waitress, Nikie, greeted me within a few minutes and was knocking my socks off from the very beginning. I ordered our beverages and an appetizer. We were off to the races. I was feeling a win coming my way.

What did we eat? Tina had her soup and shared the appetizer with me. I was craving pizza and decided that I would chance a suggestion from the waitress. I was thinking she’d suggest something healthy and she delivered. A small pizza with eggplant, broccoli and garlic. I added onions, peppers and feta. Y’all know how I feel about Feta.

Spinach Artichoke Dip ($10.99) Spinach and Marinated Artichoke Hearts blended with Garlic and Herb Cheese topped with Parmesan Cheese and oven baked. Served with Pita Chips. I asked Nikie to replace the chips with simple pita bread wedges. I can’t get the thought of deep fried bread into my wellness plan. LOL. She was happy to help.

Sm. Cheese Pizza + Broccoli, Feta, Garlic, Eggplant, Onions and Roasted Red Peppers = a mound of a pizza prices fairly at $13.73. This pizza was 4 meals. Very pleased.

We love to chat with servers. We also learned that Nikie is a vegetarian, a factory farm activist and a climate activist.

For those of you reading my meanderings, you may remember The Sole ProprieterThe Boynton is directly across the street. This Highland Street neighborhood must have good eating in the water or something. Try The Boynton – you can order online and pick up or eat in the brick-walled comfy space you see here. They are always going to make you happy with your decision.

This is direct from the Boynton website and I AGREE: “Highly recommended for a night out with friends, dinner with the familly and a popular spot for students. Named after one of the founding fathers of Worcester Polytech, the Boynton Restaurant is located at 117 Highland Street, (Route 9), ample parking in the back.”

Go. Experience. Enjoy!

photo credits: http://www.boyntonrestaurant.com/

Best Dinners with Friends – North End

My gratitude for sharing with others is deepening with this writing assignment. I am increasingly in love with my work. I’ve always enjoyed writing and at the same time felt less than “writers.” This blog has created a desire to grow and is leading me to a conversion of doing – to feel-a-part-of – and to grow. Action is integral to living. My editors are awesome and I’m waking out of my comma coma, like a timid turtle. 😉

On Saturday, we dined at our friend’s home in the North End of Boston. Receiving an invite to a friend’s place is huge. We interpret it as a generous gift. Our friend, Michelle is a kindred spirit who shares the goodness of her life in her ability to cook, feed, entertain and bring the best out of people. She works for a non-profit nutrition/health program and brings to work and home her prior work as a chef. This is the second time I’ve enjoyed her masterful skill and hospitality.

Dinner was simple and simply marvelous. All fresh. All home-made.

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– Flank Steak
– Chimichurri
– Tabbouleh
– Grilled Zucchini & Feta

There are few words to describe what you see (these are close-ups of the meal) other than the following: tender, spicy, savory, zesty, fresh, delicious, sumptuous, beyond, hard-work, and I could go on and on. I’ll allow these pictures to speak their 4,000+ words. Oh, and “everything’s bettah with Feta!”

Two important highlights of this meal.

  1. The vegetables come from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Fresh beyond belief. No trucking, so they were likely picked within days of our meal.
  2. Michelle is an experienced cook. She takes time for her guests to participate in the menu planning and to prepare food appropriate in dietary need and from their favorites list.

I would be remiss to mention that there are more than 87 dining opportunities open to the public in the North End of Boston, MA, but I’m a hopeful regular at Chez Shelly. 

Hidden Jewel, Zagat Rated, fuggetabbouditt! Chez Shelly is where the love starts with the smile and ends with the hug, after you help yourself to a plate. Thank you our lovely host and dear friend.

We ended our evening by venturing out into beautiful weather and onto the cobble stoned streets for a Wicked good evening at The Boston Opera House.