Friday, September 16, 2011

Pasta Is My Panacea


Last summer, after the big breakup, I moved in to an apartment on Historic Hill in Newport with a couple of friends. After settling in, I tried to remember, through the fog of sadness and little sleep, what I did with my weekends before spending 7 years of them with my ex. It occurred to me that I used to enjoy dining out alone from time to time, so I decided I'd try it out again.

It was my backup plan for the weekend nights I didn’t want to be alone, but didn’t have the energy for a hectic night out with friends. It would get me out of the house, and help stave off any loneliness for a little while.

I scoped out a few restaurants. Some were too busy, too formal or too touristy. Some didn’t have a bar, which would have put me at a table alone – a thought I couldn’t bear at the time. But Pasta Beach, on Memorial Boulevard, was a good fit. It was casual, had a bar, served great food and wine, and was a short walk from my new place.

Sometimes I’d walk there just full of nerves about who I might see, and worse, that they might pity me for being alone on a Friday or Saturday. How would I explain that this was by choice without crying in public, like the people in this hilarious video? But no one ever pitied me. Of course they didn’t. Why would they?  But when you feel that raw and that vulnerable, it’s difficult to believe it’s not written all over your face.

Bruschetta Verdure
When I was feeling self-conscious, I reminded myself that it was important to embrace my new life, even if I had to fake it now and then. I was testing myself, but making the test more inviting with the promise of good food and wine. Overtime, the freedom in dining alone became delicious to me again. My nights at Pasta Beach became a time for me to celebrate my new found autonomy.

Of course, if the food wasn't so delectable I would not have kept going. Some of the best things I’ve ever eaten have been here, like the Foccacia Stella, or the Bruschetta Verdure, both of which are as delicious as they are beautiful The creamy pappardelle pasta dish with asparagus and prosciutto threatens to destroy any concern I’ve ever had about my cholesterol levels. Sometimes they have a dessert called Torta Delizia, which is so amazing that the world seems a sadder place when it's gone, like when the last piece of bacon is gone.

Pasta Beach has an open kitchen, which affords you a lovely view of the young and handsome Italian chefs.  I’m so shy that I’ve yet to learn any of their names, but they still smile and nod at me when I enter, then yell “Buonanotte!” and “Grazie Bella!” when I leave. This leaves me sighing and smiling and wondering what was better, their desserts or their goodbyes.

Torta Delizia. The crust is made of almond
paste. I'm totally not fucking with you. 
I had a date here last week.  It was my first official one since the break up. (I don’t count the one earlier this summer that lasted only 15 minutes. The guy was drunk when he came to get me. Really, really, really drunk.) This date, however, turned out to be normal, thank you Jeebus. Mostly, I felt proud that I didn’t throw up on myself, or make a total ass out of myself. Frankly, I was proud that I even showed up.
Foccaccia Stella

At some point during the night I thought, "Wow, this is a  full-circle moment!" And then I thought "Oh Jesus, I just used that stupid phrase Oprah coined! What is wrong with me?" But seriously, a year ago, the me dining alone at the bar could not even consider going on a date. My confidence had been chewed up and spit out by the beast that a breakup can be. But here I was, a year later, finally able to function on a date! I could not believe that I made words come out of my mouth. And that they mostly made sense! I felt a moment of relief for the progress I’d made. The rest of the night I just felt sort of, I don’t know, contented? But then that is exactly the effect a great meal with a handsome man should have on a girl, right?

More food, less pain,
x-L