My feelings about Italian cuisine are well known both in and outside of my family. It isn't that I dislike Italian cuisine. I actually eat it quite often. It's just that it doesn't contain the element of excitement I am looking for when I go out for a special dinner. When I go out to I want fireworks, and fireworks is typically caused by a chef who possesses unique culinary talent. And it isn't that Italian chefs are incapable of possessing unique culinary talent. But in more than 25 years of serious dining, I can count the number of Italian chefs who created culinary fireworks on one hand. In fact, rather than go to a restaurant and pay top dollar for a perfectly sauteed piece of veal, I'd rather take a walk over to Lobel's and pick out a nice hunk of meat and cook it myself.
So you can imagine how shocked Mrs. P. was when I told her we were having dinner at Il Grano. "Where are we having dinner" she asked a second time? Usually when people ask a question for a second time, it's because they didn't hear you the first time. But on this occassion she was asking because she heard the answer loud and clear. "Il Grano, it's an Italian restaurant in Santa Monica.' I went on to tell her how it was different than your typical Italian restaurant and how Chef Sal Marino...... But it was going in one ear and out the other. "Italian" she murmered, and I figured that I would leave it at that until we got to the restaurant.