"I just feel funny eating a calf, you know?" Ginger says as we dive into our veal parmigiana. "I mean, when I went to farm camp -- "
"When you went to WHAT?!" Vodka interrupts her.
"Oh. Have I never told you about my time at farm camp?"
There is a lot that is confusing to us about Il Vagabondo, up to and including the fact that Ginger apparently spent her youth milking cows and herding sheep over summer vacation. Along with Ginger's secret rural tendencies, we also do not understand:
1. why there is a bocce ball court in the restaurant
2. why we're the only ones in the dining room
3. what personal connection Emeril Lagasse has to this place that has caused his seemingly random Best Thing I Ever Ate selection.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
We are at Il Vagabondo to sample their veal parmigiana, the dish which Emeril had chosen on the CLASSICS episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.
|Gotta Love a Fermented Cheese|
|Miles to Go Before We Eat|
|Take Us Out to the Bocce Ball Game|
"Can I have a ginger ale and tonic with just a little gin?" Ginger asks the waiter. When Vodka looks at her quizzically (some would say "judgmentally"), Ginger explains, "I haven't eaten all day. If I drink on an empty stomach, I'll be on the floor."
On the floor, and presumably bowled over by bocce balls.
|Are Bowling Shoes Appropriate Footwear for Bocce Ball?|
"You don't take pepper now either?!" Vodka asks. "No gin, no pepper, what's happened to you?"
|Caesar Salad Sporting a Powdering of Pepper|
"Why would you get that?" Ginger asks. "It's like all of the worst parts of alcohol."
"I've always wanted to try one, and I always wuss out at the last minute when I intend on ordering one," Vodka explains. "It's time." But as each taste of the beverage brings Vodka closer and closer to the dreaded green olives in the bottom of the glass, she decides that it is never time to overcome one's fear of dirty cocktails.
|Clearly, We Are Not One for Clear Beverages|
|Maybe If We Pretend We Are Back at Scarpetta, This Bread Basket Will Magically Improve|
|I Can't Believe It's Not Spreadable|
That, or the food is downright phenomenal, but when our platters of veal parmagiana and sides of spaghetti appear before us, we are fairly certain that this is not the reason.
|The Limp Green Garnish Really Makes a Difference, Don't You Think?|
|Not Olive Garden Quality, But It Will Do|
Turning to the veal parmagiana, we saw through the thick, goopy layer of melted cheese, the sprinkling of tomato sauce, and the crisp of the breaded veal itself.
|Portrait of a Cow as a Young Man|
The spaghetti itself is equally fine - neither the meat sauce nor the tomato sauce pack much of a punch, and the pasta tastes no better than what we could prepare out of a box in our own kitchens.
|This Might Have Been Better Had Vodka Been Permitted to Grate Her Own Cheese|
|Now THAT Looks Mouth-Watering|
Il Vagabondo's Veal Parmigiana: 3 stars