Bruised, battered and overworked, my stomach barely survives weekends with my parents. The sheer mass and variety of food is too much for my delicate internal organ to handle. Last night, in a quiet moment, my stomach stepped into a spotlight and began singing a sad aria.
“ARIA,” said my parents, and scooped us up and drove us down Paces Ferry Rd. to Aria, a restaurant we had heard much about.
“Please, mom, dad, I can’t,” I pleaded, “I’m so full.”
“NONSENSE!” they chimed back. We walked into a funky room with a silver beaded curtain and a strangely lit bar. A hostess led us to our table.
The decor was truly Felliniesque in that it was classic Italian with surreal edges. Like a giant sea creature chandelier:
Or a bejewelled feline overlooking the table above us:
And three otherworldy creatures from the planet EAT who stared back at me smiling eerily:
I remembered the adage “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and also the adage “Eating is good” and decided to be a good sport. Besides, believe it or not, I was starting to get hungry again.
“Here we go,” said my stomach.
Our waitress was exceptionally helpful, considerate and pregnant. She steered us through the menu with charm and a genuine excitement over the food. Mom took her appetizer recommendation, a warm lobster salad in a martini glass with layers of truffled potatoes and slow-cooked broccoli:
I went out on a limb and ordered tuna tartare, because I had never had it before.
Studded with pine nuts and Asian spices, it was truly delicious. Not too heavy but choc full of flavor, it was a gift to my tongue while proving gentle to my stomach.
Dad had a smoked salmon appetizer and Michael had the Caesar salad. [Not pictured.]
And then the entrees arrived. I took the waitress’s suggestion for the most popular dish: a slow cooked pork with bleu cheese polenta and spinach.
It was fantastic. Fork-tender and rich, the pork–a non-traditional Roberts family choice–proved a major success.
Mom and Michael both had the veal:
Over which they were both enthusiastic.
Dad ordered the filet migneon, which he ate quickly enough, but which he declared to be “crunchy.” [Perhaps he was referring to the charred surface?]
Finally, the waitress practically sang an aria (ARIA!) over the warm cheesecake dessert. “I don’t normally tell my customers this,” she said, “but I once had a woman tell me the warm cheesecake is better than sex. It’s THAT good.”
We gave the thumbs up, as well as mass approval to a strawberry angel foodcake peppermint icecream dessert. Here they are:
Mom bit into the cheesecake and said, in her heavy New York accent: “Oh moy gawd. That is to DOY foh.”
I preffered the strawberry one:
Just because it was the prettiest and the lightest and the most basic. But the cheesecake was great too.
Before we knew it, the check was paid and we were out the door.
My parents loved the meal. According to my mom—who was just in New York last week for their 30th anniversary trip—Aria was better than Town, Lever House and “all the other places we ate.” [I still preferred our lunch at Bacchanalia.]
The valet brought the car around, and my parents visit would very shortly be over. My stomach began its slow mental journey back to its regular routine.
As we said our goodbyes, and the curtain came down on a weekend of decadent dining, a small voice began to sing softly.
“Aaaah, aaaah, aaaaah,” sang my stomach, accompanied by my kidney on lute.
“How pretty,” said my mother, kissing me goodbye. Farewells to dad and Michael and then into my car.
Lights fade to black. The audience rises to its feet. “BRAVO! BRAVO!”