Friday, March 23, 2018. Two Tonys, And Many Others. After a little driving around aimlessly, I satisfy an urge to have dinner at Two Tonys. There’s something about the family-style Italian restaurant that appeals to my appetite. I’m not the only one with this hunger, and the restaurant is nearly full. I am consigned to the nether reaches of the dining room, but that doesn’t seem to bother me.
The menu at Two Tony’s covers a lot of territory, and trying to decide what to eat is time-consuming. I wind up getting an appetizer of fried calamari and manicotti, with a house salad in between.
This is the first time I’ve has fried squid in quite awhile. I think about that and decide that this is not my action or inaction, but the disappearance of calamari from most Italian menus. Whatever the motivation, I wind up with a very large pile of fried spiders. (That’s what a long-ago girlfriend used to call squid.) I couldn’t come close to finishing it off, but not because of a lack of edibility. There was just too much for one person.
Owner Tony Montalbano spies me during the middle of the manicotti, and offers an unusual alternative. “If I had known you were here, I would have offered you something a little more sexy,” he says. The reference, of course, is to Two Tony’s large selection of dishes made with veal or or seafood or chicken and a number of appealing sauces. What I have in the manicotti is essentially an Italian enchilada, with red sauce and a couple of cheeses. It has been a long time since my last manicotti. It’s an item seems like an antique, and it seemed right at the moment.
Saturday, March 24, 2018. The Sinatra Guy. No Change @ Domenica. Mary Ann wants to attend the concert at the Orpheum Theater tonight. The main attraction is. . . Frank Sinatra. Or as close as we will get anymore to Old Blue-Eyes. Steve Lippia is one of many singers these days putting forth imitations. As a Sinatra copycat myself, owning as I do some fifty or Sinatra sixty albums, I am intrigued. For about two minutes, the two of us agree that this guy has captured almost every nuance of the real Voice. He is backed up both by the LPO and a very substantial big band as he puts forth a two-hour show.
Lippia lives mostly in Las Vegas, where he has a lot of steady work at this endeavor. He has an interesting and effective way to perform. He tells his own story, not Sinatra’s, even as he sings exactly like Sinatra. I like that idea, because even if a singer nails the Sinatra sound perfectly, he’s still an imitator, and there’s something false about that.
Mary Ann doesn’t express these exact thoughts, but for someone who is not especially wild about Great American Songbook–particularly when I am the singer in the shower–she loves this performance. The guy on the stage is really terrific.
We are now up to about a dozen LPO events a year, and we have developed a post-concert eating regimen. It is almost always in Domenica, John Besh’s Italian pizzeria and Italian trattoria. The menu seems to be the same as in past visits there, even though Alon Shaya has moved on. Since I don’t know much about the issues between Shaya and Besh (and, frankly, I don’t want to know any more), I will drop the subject. We have a pizza and a spicy plate of Calabresi pasta. It’s already pretty late, and we head for home.
Domenica. CBD: 123 Baronne (Roosevelt Hotel). 504-648-6020.