by Melinda Gallo

Craving sushi

Another rainy day in Florence. We were so lucky to have sunny skies for almost two full weeks and then Monday it began to rain. Not a lot of rain, but continuous rain. The kind that gets the front of you wet when you're walking. Today, Dave and I vowed we wouldn't leave our apartment. We've been outside two days in a row going downtown for various reasons. We had planned on going out to eat sushi at another Japanese restaurant in via dei Neri, but decided to go another day. We didn't feel like going outside in the never-ending rain.

We tried to go and eat at the Japanese restaurant last Friday and even arrived early at 7:30PM, thinking it'd be a sure bet to get in. There was one group of six people at one table and another table of two on the other side of the main aisle.

"Avete prenotato?" (Did you make a reservation) the Japanese woman with the sweet face and kind eyes asked me. I told her that we didn't, but felt quite confident that they could accommodate us since the other 20 tables in the restaurant were empty. I didn't yet take off my scarf, but did take off my gloves.

She shyly smiled at me and said, "Vado a vedere" (I'll go and check). As she walked back toward me, she shook her head. "È completo stasera. Mi dispiace." (We're booked tonight. I'm sorry.) I looked at her in disbelief and couldn't help myself staring at the table next to us with a variety of plates with different types of sushi and small cups filled with hot sake.

She handed me a business card and said, "La prossima volta è meglio prenotare." (Next time it's better to reserve). I generally don't think about making reservations during the low tourist season, but I have tucked away that piece of information for future reference.

We quickly decided as the door to the Japanese restaurant shut that we'd call Simone to see if we could get into his restaurant. We weren't really dressed to go out far from home since we forgot our hats, but we were willing to walk to Santo Spirito to go to Simone's restaurant.

I talked to one of Simone's socio (associates) Valentina who said that she could seat us in the bar at 8:30PM. Now, we had to figure what we'd do for an hour.

Dave and I decided to walk to Piazza Repubblica to find a place to get a drink. We settled on Café Rivoire, which was pretty full except for one table that we could see next to the window. I remembered that Pitti Uomo (the men's fashion show) was being held in Florence when I saw a group of well-dressed Spanish men seated at the table next to us.

We ordered our 10 Euro drinks and were given a few plates of aperitivi (appetizers): crackers, peanuts, olives, and crostini (slices of bread with various toppings, like tomatoes and liver pâté). Some people like to eat their aperitivi at the bar standing up so they can pick and choose. But, I prefer to be seated especially since our drinks were a tad strong and we had to wait at least an hour before heading to Simone's restaurant.

We walked across the Ponte Vecchio to Santo Spirito. The streets weren't very crowded due the cold air that made our ears burn as it whipped past us.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to eat much of my stracotto di manzo (beef stew) and had no room for dessert because I got filled up on the aperitivi. We had a great dinner, but I still crave sushi and can't wait to get some soon. And, next time I will make a reservation because I can't take the disappointment of seeing the sushi in front of me and then not being able to enjoy it.

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