Note: Still our absolute favorite restaurant in Vienna...you can bet our first dinner after landing was with Roberto!
"Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels...
Doorbells and sleigbells and schnitzel with noodles...
Silver white winters that melt into spring...
These are a few of my favorite things"
After spending a year now in Austria, that song seems a lot more relevant - first of all, after living here, you certainly understand the references: the horses, the bells, the schnitzel, the strudel...All of those things are reliable and dependent here, they're classics that never go out of style and consequently, they're very familiar and very comforting...Having a bad day in Vienna? Order yourself a schnitzel and strudel at Cafe Central during the off hours, sit back with the International Herald Tribune and you'll feel better immediately - throw in a nice melange coffee to top it all off. Thinking of having a bad day in Vienna 5, 10, 25 years from now? The solution would be exactly the same.
Since moving here, we've compiling a list of our own favorite things - places to go or things to do that always seem to lift the spirits. We seem to be pulling from the list a little more lately with all the rain - number one on my list by far is a dinner at Il Melograno Restaurant. We stumbled up on it while looking for something else (most likely our apartment) our first night in Vienna, and as luck would have it, there was a brand new restaurant that opened that week that we spotted just when we were tired and hungry. We were ticket #19 and we still have the receipt, though it's now barely legible as a the digital ink has faded to a mere faint of what used to be written in black and white.
Since then, we come see Roberto, the 22-year old proprietor of the restaurant at least once a month, if not more and to celebrate big and small occassions, and sometimes just on a random Tuesday. This young man works harder than anyone I know, overseeing this small but always full restaurant (gone are the days when we could just waltz in unannounced - now even we have to call!), handling everything from being the maitre d' to head waiter to where the buck stops when each dish leaves the kitchen. The food is Italian and impeccable - everything prepared perfectly but simply so that you see and taste each ingredient, and selection of wines - even by the glass - is outstanding....You'll get to sample southern wines mainly, with a big focus on Puglia and Sicily, which makes sense as that's where the family is from. Even the uncle drives up the olives and bread rings every two weeks from Italy - tip: definitely go when the uncle has just been to town, these are olives you don't want to miss.
On Saturday evening, in the middle of yet another rainstorm, we treated ourselves to one of Roberto's meals - and just like the song, "I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad".