It was the best of times (because Italian food has had a twenty year Renaissance), it was the worst of times (because it’s now ubiquitous), it was the age of wisdom (Mario Batali), it was the age of foolishness (Macaroni Grill’s authenticity), it was the epoch of belief (Patron Saint Piero Selvaggio), it was the epoch of incredulity (how does Carraba’s stay in business?), it was the season of Light (luscious Lambruscos), it was the season of Darkness (Nora’s in bankruptcy), it was the spring of hope (Due Forni/D.O.C.G.), it was the winter of despair (red sauce everywhere), we had everything before us (Italian restaurants everywhere!), we had nothing before us (Italian restaurants everywhere), we were all going direct to (hog) heaven, we were all going direct the other way (Olive Garden hell) – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities (ELV) insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities, English novelist (1812-1870)
ELV thinks that about sums it up. He would love to write that he just can’t get enough of the type of Italian food like they serve at the Pasta Shop and Bacio, but truth be told, even though he takes the good with the bad (the yin and yang of Italian eats) as the way things must be, the cuisine’s resurgence over the past twenty years has just about worn him out — even when it’s perfectly serviceable.