After an extra large breakfast at Uncle Bill’s, and then after lunch a Seamus’, I decided that we needed to eat dinner at Rigazzi’s. Rigazzi’s is a family style Italian restaurant on The Hill. During my early college years, I was on the track team and they had an all you can eat spaghetti special, which was good for carb loading. During my later college years, I went there because they had comically large beers, which was good for carb loading of a different kind. And then, after college, my wife and I would go to dinner and enjoy both the spaghetti and the beers. In fact, our last dinner before leaving St. Louis for Chicago, we ate at Rigazzi’s. And so it was only fitting that I chose this for the reunion weekend dinner.
When we got to the restaurant, we were told that the wait would be about an hour. Although this would normally turn me away from a restaurant, we decided to stay. For one thing, I had a feeling that it wouldn’t actually be an hour. And for another, I knew we could pass the time easily in the bar. Plus, given that I wasn’t even sure if the place would still be open after all these years, I was happy to see that they were busy.
The bar is usually very busy at Rigazzi’s. This is because the wait is usually a little on the long side. And while you wait, people tend to go for Rigazzi’s signature drink – the fishbowl. The fishbowl is a large glass chalice that they fill with a local macrobrew. I saddled up to the bar and ordered a fishbowl of michelob golden lite. I don’t know how much the fishbowl holds. If I were to guess, I would say that it is somewhere between two and three beers. And it costs $6.50.
I got through most of my fishbowl by the time we got our table. It wasn’t quite the hour wait that we were quoted but it was close. I think the 2 parties of 15 each had something to do with it. But eventually, we were seated at table with red and white checkered table cloth made out of vinyl. The bread that they bring to your table hasn’t changed since the last time we were here. It’s a spongy italian loaf that tastes like they should have turned it into breadcrumbs yesterday. Underneath the bread is an assortment of fancy soup crackers.
The menu at Regazzi’s hadn’t changed since we had last eaten there. They still have an all you can eat spaghetti and meatball option. And they have a menu that reads a lot like an Olive Garden. I decided on the mostoccioli and meatballs. It was a heaping plate of saucy redness. The meatballs were steamy and spongy in a good way. I just wished there were more of them. I could have eaten about ten. And although the sauce was altogether too sweet, the abundance of meat in the sauce was a nice touch.
Altogether, it was a pure example of what the Americanization of Italian food is. It tasted like television.
I ordered a second fishbowl and proceeded to devour my dinner.
My wife got a pasta tutto mare. This was not surprising. If there is a dish with seafood in a cheesy or creamy sauce, my wife will order it. Unfortunately, the pasta tutto mare was cheesy and creamy in an unpleasant way, and there was a ton of it. After I finished my dinner, I started to eat hers, which is how things normally go for us. But I didn’t like it at all. It was like someone accidentally spilled two completely different dinners onto a single plate. The ingredients just didn’t make sense together. Plus, there was imitation crab meat in it, which just seems wrong in a dish like this.
On our way out after dinner, I stopped and sat down with Al Capone, which pleases me. I am sure I have done this on every single occasion that I have gone to Rigazzi’s. But I always seem to forget. It’s my Memento moment. But I suppose that is what Rigazzi’s is – food you’ve had before in a setting that makes you feel like you never left.