Part III: The Sea Snake
We knock again.
The sign on the door says they open at 8pm.
We turn to walk away. The door swings open.
A short, bald, grey-bearded man stands in the doorway, a kitchen cloth draped over his left shoulder.
“Hi! Can we reserve a table for tonight?” We ask enthusiastically.
“Come in,” he grunts.
We follow him down three steps that lead us through the door and into the restaurant.
We enter the cave below; rustic decor, rough walls, dim lighting. We follow the man to the bar. He looks at a clipboard to check availability for the evening.
“Tonight there is no space. Tomorrow at lunchtime there is a table free.”
My boyfriend and I look at each other with disappointment. We leave tomorrow morning.
“Vico sent us,” my boyfriend says.
The man looks confused, and I realize why.
“He means Ivo,” I say. “We are staying with him in his flat around the corner and he told us about your wonderful restaurant and the delicious food.”
I whisper quickly to my boyfriend, “Vico means alleyway.”
“Ahhh Ivo! Let’s see. If you come later tonight, at 9:30pm, we can squeeze you in somewhere I am sure.”
“Great! We can’t wait!”
As we shut the door behind us, the sign catches my eye again. Closes 10pm. Hopefully we won’t be kicked out halfway through our meal.
We return at 9:15pm. The place is alive and bustling. We spot the man from earlier. He smiles when he see us and leads us past the bar to an empty table. He’s the owner.
A waiter appears with two paper menus. Everything is in Italian, just as it should be.
We try to decipher what we can before the waiter returns. We order wine and ask him our vocabulary questions.
“What is anguilla?” We ask.
“Ahh, is, um, how you say, umm… sea snake.”
My boyfriend jumps. “Sea snake?! Ohhhh… eel. Sure, we’ll take it.”
Each course arrives promptly and is heavenly. We are so entranced with the tastes, smells and presentation of our meal that we hardly notice the restaurant empty.
The last table leaves just as our gooey chocolate cake with biscuits arrives.
The waiters begin to clean up. One of them locks the door.
We grab the attention of the owner and ask if he needs us to leave.
“Don’t be crazy. Stay.”
He walks away and returns a minute later with another carafe of wine and sets it on our table.
“On the house.”
The owner joins the waiters who have finished for the day and are sat with their drinks at the table next to ours. They laugh, shout and tell jokes while drinking shots of Amaro and Limoncello.
The owner gets up and pours us two shots of Amaro, and one for himself.
We drink it up.
He pours again.
He pours a third time, leaves the bottle on our table, and returns to the waiters.
“How much can we take?” We ask him, getting too drunk to wonder whether we’ll be charged for it.
“As much as you wish.”
Many, many shots of Amaro later, we pay the shockingly low bill (shots not included), tip generously, and stumble back around the corner to Ivo’s. Thank god he lives so close. We wouldn’t have been able to face the labyrinth in this state.
We sleep like logs, and dream of a labyrinth, an artist, and sea snakes in the port city of Genoa.