by Melinda Gallo

Pranzo da Simone

Today, Simone invited me to have pranzo (lunch) with him at his place. I was happy that we finally had a chance to talk as it's difficult when I go to his restaurant for dinner or when I pass by the restaurant while he's prepping for dinner. I was even happier when he told me that he'd make me lunch at his place. I've been to his place before for lunch, but not since we moved to Florence and were living in his apartment.

It felt odd to walk down the streets in my old neighborhood and have to ring the campanello (door bell) of Simone's apartment. He has painted the inside of it since we left and it looks even more beautiful than before. I looked out the apartment windows fondly, remembering when the view was mine and Dave's. I still saw the woman across the courtyard folding her laundry, two Italian students in their kitchen cooking lunch, and the same church steeple I used to look at from the terrazza (terrace).

Simone made gnudi (spinach and ricotta dumplings) as the primo and a white fish with pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) and zenzero (ginger). He set the table with silverware, plates, two glasses, and cloth napkins. He had already put slices of different breads in a small cestino (basket), a bottle of white wine, and a carafe with water in it. I felt like I was in a restaurant. He served the gnudi and grated cheese on top. After we finished, he served the fish. He excused himself because there was no contorno (side dish), but I was happy with our fish.

I didn't know what to bring Simone because he has very good taste and wouldn't be content with just any bottle of wine or dessert. I know that he loves my lace cookies, so I made him a batch before I left and delivered them in a box. There must have been about 15 of them, and we ate all of them with some vin santo to finish our meal.

I was impressed with how Simone made our pranzo feel so special. All of his little touches were so pleasing that it made the lunch even that much better. I hope to invite Simone over for pranzo and show him the same hospitality that he has shown me.

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