That’s Amore!

Have you ever wanted to be something when you were growing up, but then as you get older, realize that’s just not something that can come to be?  For some, it’s fame, for others, it’s being a pro sports player.  For me, it was being Italian.  Not that there’s anything wrong with being German, which I am, but I always thought the culture of being Italian would’ve been the coolest thing ever.  The food, for one thing, the culture, the family comradery.   Also, I had (still have?) a thing for Italian boys.

This week I made a drop to Italian restaurant Forno Siciliano on Ditmars between 43rd and 45th.  I was sent there by St. Francis of Assisi school right around the corner because “…we have all their kids in school and have had many generations of their children come through here.”  I dropped by after my Thursday church rehearsal around 9:40 and was greeted my Maria, one of the sisters-in-law who runs the business.  We chatted a bit and I told her I would back to pick up my plate, how the whole things works, and the recommendation bit.  She immediately blurted out “Krave!  Go to Krave, right across the street.”  I said, great, can’t wait to go there next week, I’ll be back in to pick up my plate in a few days!  She kept trying to give me back my plate, saying “Are you sure?  I can just give it to you now.”, and without being too pushy, I kept saying no, I’d rather come back for it.  You see, there are some things about Single Girl that people don’t always get right away and leaving the plate there gives them a few days to ‘get it’, meaning the concept.  Sometimes they visit the website and by reading a few posts, the About section and the articles and news pieces, they’re able t piece together more fully what Single Girl Cookies is really about.  For being such an simple concept, I realize it’s not one that’s easy for our cynical, modern minds to grasp.  Plus, it allows me to come back and leisurely spend some time enjoying the place and getting to know the people there.  That’s one of my favorite parts about this whole thing, so let me do that!  Y’hear that, future recipients?? Let me do my thang.

My weekend proved to be INSANE (but fun!) with me wearing many different hats in short periods of time, so I didn’t make it back up to Forno Sicilliano on Sunday to pick up my plate.  Coincidentally, I was up on Ditmars that night, but at Crescent and Vine.

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I had a friend in town and we went to meet another friend of hers and check out their jazz night.  We probably stayed for about 4 hours and had some really lovely and well recommended wine, courtesy of Drew’s expertise.  If it weren’t for the series finale of Breaking Bad that I’ll be screening at MoMI (omg SO EXCITED), I’d be at C&V this Sunday as well.

Last night I decided to make the trek up there, knowing if I didn’t do it then, things would get away from me and I’d be making my next drop before I got my plate.  Things go the way they’re supposed to.  Turns out Lenny, the owner of Krave, was having dinner there as well.  We met, I gave him the low down on SGC, told him I’d be there on Thursday and he gave me his number to text him when I was coming.  He wanted to be there when I do the drop, and even told me which time was better to come.  Sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to have people know I’m coming and what it’s already about.

So, here I sat, saddled up to the bar with my Red Apple martini (I told Sal, the bartender, to surprise me), munching on a new creation of Nutella pizza by Freddy, waiting for my vegetali ortolana to come out and having a friendly chat with Maria, a different Maria than I met on that Thursday, and getting the lowdown on the history of this place.  It’s something like this:

There were two brothers of Silician and Napolitano heritage that came to Astoria and wanted to open a restaurant.  They were both great cooks (as I imagine all Italians to be, why else would I want to marry one?) and wanted to share their home food with others.  Half of the place as we see it now was for making mozzarella and the other half with the brick oven was the restaurant.  And so they went for about 22 years, being a joint venture between the two brothers and his two daughters and his two daughters-in-law.  The mozzarella business got bigger and was moved to a warehouse facility and the restaurant expanded to what it is now.   Then came a falling out and the restaurant was closed from Sept ’12 to January ’13.  When it was reopened, the businesses had been divided, the restaurant redone with a lighter and brighter decor and was now owned by one brother, his two daughters and his two daughters-in-law, Antonella, Rita, Maria and Maria.  Follow me so far?  Fascinating, is it not?

I listened to Maria as my food came out and struggled not to be rude and focus all my attention on the deliciousness that was in front of me.  As we had been talking, Freddy made me some foccacia to go with my vegetali.

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Holy moly.  I urge you all to check this place out not just for the family atmosphere, but for the bread alone.  Or order a pizza.  Anything with that dough.  You will NOT regret it.

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We continued to chat as I ate, the vegetali was delicious and topped with fresh homemade mozz, and I felt more than just ‘welcome’ there, I felt comfortable and familiar.  I will most definitely be going back again, and not just to hand deliver a few special cookies to Maria this Thursday – poor woman didn’t get any!

And so my love affair with all things Italian continues, but that brings me to my next topic, one I will need your help with.  My roommate had a brilliant idea last week as we were discussing fun ways to get Single Girl outside the box and she said, What about a Singles Night?  How about it, Astoria??  Even as I dropped off cookies to Forno, Maria saw my card and murmured, “We should have a singles night here”  Annie, my roommate, thought it was a perfect match, Single Girl Cookies presents Singles Night.  I would provide cookies and some other goodies of course, but it’d be a great chance to meet other local singles, have some drinks, have some cookies, grab a bite to eat and mingle!  Bottom line, we ARE going to make this happen, but we want to be as successful as it can be, and that’s where you come in.  Where would you want to see a singles night here in the ‘hood?  Where would you be most likely to come out to, where do you think the atmosphere lends itself to mingling and chatting (ie, not mega loud), where do you think the cool kids would be?  Email me, tweet or facebook me, or just leave a comment below.  We want YOU for Singles Night!

Finally, my progress for Tedx Utica continues to go well, and I think I made a good impression last Friday when I had my first check in.  I’m feeling really good about what I’m saying and hopefully will leave the listeners with inspiration for things they can do in their own communities.  Also, I’m going to be handing out cookies – can’t go wrong with that!  Along those lines, I’m looking to raise money to help cover my costs of transportation to Utica and also the baking supplies for 170 people (wow!).  And I need YOU help to make this happen!  If you think this is a cool thing, or have been touched by my cookies, I ask that you think about donating, even $5.00.  My goal is only $300 and I’ve already had a generous donation of $100, so that leaves only $200 left!  If everyone that read this donated only $2 (less than your fancy Spiced Pumpkin Latte), we’d be there in no time.  And if you’re unable to contribute, I totally get that, I just ask that you share with your friends that are.  Single Girl Cookies is a community effort, and it takes a community to keep it going!

I hope your fall is starting off as fresh and exciting as mine is.  Smile at someone today.

All my love and kindness,
Single Girl

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