Date: Sat, 04 Apr 1998 13:54:25 -0500Professor Burke,
From: Wilson Kello
To: Timothy Burke
CC: justin hall
Subject: Cafe Belissimo
Howdy. I read your review of Cafe Belissimo and could not restrain myself from relating an anecdote from the first and only time I ate there.
I must preface this tale by saying that I had just returned from a semester abroad in Rome, and was craving some real live Italian food. I had at that time a long-held belief that if there's one thing that's hard to destroy in the kitchen, it's Italian food. What's so hard about boiling water and mincing garlic?
Before going, I announced my intentions to some friends, one of whom had worked for a brief time at the "Cafe" when it first opened. She reported that it was nightly protocol to use breaktime as an opportunity to get as stoned as possible. Apparently all the crew, from hostesses to dishwashers, would sneak into the employee parking lot, cram into a car and smoke several joints all at once, in an effort to get super high in under five minutes. Then they would stagger back to work, addled and altered and ready to roll. All this was confirmed on my visit.
We were seated without any trouble, and we quietly mocked the decor as we waited to be served. Up came a bouncy little Delco woman, and said, before even introducing herself, 'I just drank alot of coffee, OK? When I drink coffee I get real excited, and I feel real weird, OK?" We nodded in perplexed assent, and she continued: "Buena sera, may I take your order?" I said, 'Si, si - good, you guys really speak Italian!' and she replied, eyes wider than ever, 'Yeah, and sometimes I speak Chinese too! Ching chow chong, chow chong!"
With that, she turned and left. In the ensuing silence, I told my friends the story about the hot-box in the car on break method, and they agreed that our waitress' behavoir was symptomatic. Then out came someone else entirely, a young man looking utterly stoned, who apologized for the episode with waitress #1, and proceeded to take our order, which he botched hopelessly. One guy in our party never got the beer he kept demanding, and as you say in your review, the pasta was one congealed, tepid mass of undercooked dough under some vieny stewed tomatoes and dried basil flakes. We never saw waitress #1 again.
Wilson Kello '98