Monday, July 16, 2012

You know what this means . . .

That's right! Venerable North Denver Italian restaurant Pagliacci's is closing August 19 after 66 years.

Or, as the Denver Post put it: "Pagliacci’s, North Denver’s [check] venerable [check] Italian restaurant [check check], will close Aug. 19 after 66 years [hah!] serving up such classic dishes as calamari fritti, caprese salad, gnocchi, fettuccine with bolognese sauce and a memorable seven-layer lasagna."

Oddly enough, we were there just this past Friday night, and as soon as we walked in we knew something was wrong. Maybe it was the bowling-ball-clutching half-clown-suited ladies hovering menacingly over every table, but there was definitely tension in the air.

Oh, the D-blog had the gnocchi. It was gummy. In fact, being an in-the-moment kind of guy, the D-blog made just that observation at the time: "This is gummy." Some genius, either the D-a-W or one of the D-blog's many easily replaceable sisters, replied, "I think it's supposed to be gummy."


The Post's story (teased on the front page at the moment) is by William Porter, Restaurant Critic, who grittily notes that a developer bought the place and plans to put up (evil squealing serial-killer music here) an apartment building on the site. But Porter notes the tender side of the Pagliacci's story as well, long before its kulak owners sold out to the man for some gold:
The Pagliacci’s story is a good one, ripe as a tomato with immigrant ambition, the American dream, and even a love story. It was founded in 1946 by [Frank] Grandinetti, a Sicilian produce vendor who six years earlier had met his future bride, Thelma Balzano. The family legend has it that one day when Thelma leaned out her window to chat with Frank, he tossed her an apple.
I heard he threw it at her, which logically is the only way such a boring incident could reach legendary status, and even then only if he left a significant dent in her head. Anyway, it's clear Mr. Porter is ripe as a tomato with writing talent and perhaps a love story. I will look out for his offerings in the future.

Update: The caption on the photo of the ball-wielding ladies reads, "In 1952, Pagliacci's founder Frank Grandinetti sponsors a bowling team with, l to r, Billy Carbaugh, Hazel Dopheide, Jen Campbell, Genevieve Sellers and Mary Friedl." Scary stuff.

Update II: As several commenters at the Post note, Pagliacci's minestrone is super-excellent*.

*Sorry, it was either "super-excellent" or "to die for," so no contest there.

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