Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, right? That’s what they say on “Cheers,” at least. And, actually, I do like going to places where they know my name, know what I like to eat, know how I like my drink. In Holbox, Mexico, there’s a lady who goes to Raices everyday just to watch the sunset. She walks up at about 6:30 p.m., orders a Heineken, and sits on a plastic chair facing the water-meets-sky view—party of one.
A few days ago, I went to Pietro’s, an old Italian restaurant in Dallas. This 56-year-old establishment is tucked somewhere behind the gastro pubs, new-age boulangeries and avant-garde eateries of Greenville Avenue. Its entrance boasts a concrete, soccer field-size parking lot, an enviable commodity in this area. Spaghetti, meatballs, piccatas, pizzas—all the Italian comfort foods you expect, exactly how you expect them. They don’t do things differently here, and that’s why I love it.
The owner, Pete, knows my family well. My dad was once a busboy at Pietro’s, long before I was even a thought. Pete forgets who I am, usually asking those around me: “who does she belong to?” Me (or those around me): “Virgil. This is Virgil’s daughter.”
Saying “ah, ha!” with his eyes, he points: “You look so much like your mother.” This is a fact, I do. Every day, I look in the mirror and think the same thing. My family reminds me of the resemblance often. “Thank you,” I say. He looks at me: “I remember your mother, and you look just like her.”
My mom passed away about 25+ years ago, so it’s rare that anyone outside of my family would know my mom. But Pete does. Pete remembers, and he said I look just like her. And I do. He’s right. He doesn’t remember my name, but I’m ok with that. This is much better.
It makes me feel good inside. It makes me happy—to be in a restaurant in 2016 called Pietro’s, where a non-family member knew mom 25+ years ago. It’s a place where they might not always know your name, but they recognize your face, and they talk to you like a friend. It’s been around for more than 50 years and they haven’t done anything differently. They haven’t moved. They haven’t closed. And they haven’t forgotten.
As much as I love to travel, escape, find new adventures, try new foods, eat at new restaurants, what’s most important to me is always what’s at home—what’s here, in Dallas, where my family lives, where my family eats, where my family loves, where my family is remembered.