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For the third night in a row we’re joining a gathering of wine geeks, this one assembled by Graeme from amongst the local oenophilistines, and at my behest. We “brave” the evening’s newest and most aggressive downpour by taking a door-to-door taxi, joining the growing mini-throng in Pazzo’s back room.

Did I say “room?” No, not quite right. Shed? Tent? Lean-to? Look, I’m aware that wine folk can occasionally be rowdy, table-hogging miscreants, and on more than one occasion I’ve been in a restaurant that’s banished us to the hinterlands (I remember one, somewhere north of Boston, that set up our table in the storage room), but I’m not even sure that the area in which we’re dining counts as a structure. One thing’s for sure: it’s deafening, thanks to the rain that pounds on the corrugated metal roof (yes, really)…and later, a few soaked-through bags, boxes, and jackets indicate the formation of a brackish pond beneath our feet.

Aside from being relegated to Siberia, how’s the restaurant? It’s simple, straightforward Italian, and I start with a very nice plate of gnocchi with quail in a burnt butter sauce, which I follow with veal involtini that aren’t, as they so often are, overcooked to dryness. However, not everyone’s dishes are quite as successful, and the service seems to alternate between kind attentiveness and long gaps of indifference. Still, considering the circumstances, the experience is good enough, and they allow us to close down the restaurant without complaint. (3/05)


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