While I don’t bemoan the terrific professionalism of Boston's consortium restaurants, there is a charm to the individually owned and operated restaurants.
Did you ever hear of a restaurant that paid you for a taste of the bottle of the expensive wine you just bought?
The former ‘Dom’s’ restaurant, owner-operated, had some extraordinary methods of doing business.
Here is an actual conversation between Dom, the operator-owner, and a friend and customer, as drawn from Dom’s, an Odyssey (See the “Books for Sale” folder in the Website.)
Before I rejoined my group I stopped for a moment at Victor’s table. “You’re all set for your Osso Bucco. Six orders,” I said.
“You made some risotto for us, too?” Victor didn’t need to ask.
“Of course. And gremolata to sprinkle over everything.”
“Great, my friend. What about that wine you ordered especially for my guests?”
“I opened two bottles of Brunello di Montalcino, Biondi-Santi, 1961, this morning. Signore Biondi-Santi himself told me to give it at least 12 hours to breathe. It’s perfect now for your veal.”
“Quanto?” he asked.
“Nine hundred dollars,” I said, managing not to smile.
“For the two?”
“My heart!” Victor liked drama and he held his heart and swooned. His table laughed loudly, both at his antics and in gleeful anticipation of the extraordinary wine experience soon to befall them.
“Don’t collapse, Victor. I’ll buy back a taste from you,” I offered.
I was referring to a note on the menu which read: “Dom will buy back a 1½ oz taste of any wine over $100.00 for 10% of the wine list price.” Ten per cent was double what we charged for the wine and so amounted to a discount to the customer who shared a taste with me. This was another of the many innovations for which Dom’s had become well-known.
Many of our customers who ordered the more expensive bottles on the wine list often wanted to generously share the rare experience of a great bottle with Dom, their locally-famous host. Others, not experienced in wine-tasting, wanted me to teach them some basics. Still others simply saw the sharing as a way to get the padrone to join them for a moment. Whatever the motivation, the desire to share a taste with me was complimentary and couldn’t be ignored.
But I saw a problem in charging my customers a considerable price for a 28oz bottle of wine and then taking an ounce or two for free. By ‘paying’ for a taste, I satisfied my customers desire to share the experience without freeloading. Besides, I gained in another way. Tasting the more complex wines in our inventory from time to time enabled me to track their development. In fact, if a customer ordered a bottle I hadn’t tasted in a few months, I sometimes imposed and asked if I could buy a taste.
But Victor wasn’t having any of that.
“No. But I’ll be honored if you come back to enjoy a glass and talk to us about the wine when Tracy serves it.”
“For sure, Victor.” Since Victor was my friend and was extremely rich to boot, I was comfortable taking wine free and freely from him.
Today’s post found below deals with a story from Boston’s Italian North End.
Today is Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Good morning, my friends.
This is my seventy-third consecutive daily posting.
It is 5.19am.
And another gorgeous day in store for us.
On the screen: “Tale of Two Cities” s a 1958 British period drama based on parts of Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities, directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Dirk Bogarde and Dorothy Tutin.
Sydney Carton, a drunken English lawyer, discovers that Charles Darnay, a man he once defended, is a French aristocrat trying to escape the French Revolution. While he envies the man over the love of a woman, Lucie Manette, his conscience is pricked and he resolves to help him escape the guillotine.
I’m at my desk.
Dinner is leftovers again: the bones of a giant porterhouse steak and the rib cage of veal; or Blanquettes de Veau. Again. Or I may postpose that and have a Tuna Salad Sandwich.
This piece, "Ten Cents Each-Three for a Quarter," comes to us from Sammy Viscione. It will also be posted in the Folder on the Website called “Boston’s Italian North End.”
Shopping malls, supermarkets, internet shopping, box scores.
What a transition from Arthur’s, Shuman’s, Sheldon’s, La Fauci’s, Mocardini’s, Resnick’s hardware, etc.
I never realized the large number of merchants and street vendors in addition to the services available to a population of up to thirty-eight thousand living in the North End in the 40s and 50s.
What a tremendous concentration of commerce in an area less than a square mile.
There was so much for sale, so much buying and so many to service in so little an area.
The pushcarts and the horse-drawn produce carts hawking goods street by street made me wonder how long man had been peddling that way.
What a memorable time.
There was the milkman, ice man, rag man, diaper man, oilman, crab man, pizza man (Gowada, gowada: hot, hot,) the insurance man and the other man collecting the daily investments.
I remember the weekends, especially the holidays and the abundance of good food on display along with the rich aromas and the hordes of people streaming down the streets with their plastic coated or 5 cent brown paper shopping bags.
Yes, those Italian people doing what no other ethnic group could equal, buying goods and food and later preparing them with the best ingredient, love.
Much has changed now.
Once a predominantly Italian community, it is very much diversified today.
The North End was the people.
Some remain to witness the lost culture and solidarity that that once existed there.
It will always be the oldest neighborhood in the country but no longer the greatest.
Nothing last forever.
However, one thing our generation learned was that food and appearance was foremost then and remains with us today.
Years of experience proved to us that nothing beat wearing a Castignetti suit while eating a dish of macaroni.
Viva, the Nordend (our pronunciation.)
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