Last night Bob, Courtney, Oliver, Melissa, James, Cathy and Dan and I celebrated Bob’s 31st birthday at Buca di Beppo. My stomach is still celebrating.
We were sat down near a large, framed photo of Frank Sinatra, whom James referred to as “the Godfather” several times throughout the evening. James and Cathy treated the rest of us to dinner as a belated Christmas present, and their generosity was both welcome and infinite.
On the ride over I got to sit in the back seat with my favorite baby buddy (and my favorite buddy, baby), Oliver James John Neville. Mostly we played with his little toy remote control, with all of its noises and flashing lights. Oliver likes to put it up to his ear and babble into it as if it’s a phone. Totally adorable.
First course of the evening was Buca’s signature Caesar salad and a piping hot slab of garlic bread with mozzarella. Delicious.
And then came the dinner courses. We got the classic spaghetti and meatballs, with Buca’s famous softball-sized meatballs. (Oliver enjoyed his little slices of meatball very much.) The ravioli with meat sauce also made an appearance, along with another old favorite, the manicotti. Melissa also got a delicious macaroni rosa with twisty pasta and succulent chicken. (You said it. If it was a chicken, I’d bread it.)
Dan also ordered what turned out to be the superstar of the evening: chicken cannelloni. Look at that! It was amazing. Finely ground chicken sausage, cheeses and sauces. Excellent.
Bob “went to the bathroom” but was actually sneaking off to secretly order the Dolce Platter. It arrived with tiramisu, a sledgehammer-sized slab of cheese cake covered with hazel nuts and raspberry sauce, a mountain of double-layer chocolate cake and some kind of lemon tart thing that I can best describe as “lemon pot pie.”
Our gluttony was the stuff of legend; Bob thinks we finally topped the sheer idiocy of eating that happened on our first trip to Buca all those years (and all that cholesterol) ago. I don’t think. I know. Can’t wait to do it again. (When the cheesecake was gone, I had James give me a scoop of chocolate cake and asked him to rub it around in what was left of the raspberry sauce. It was sexual dinnercourse.)
The Borgelt contingent and I headed back to the Nevilles’ house after James and Bob made a pit stop at The Liquor Barn. I waited in the car with Courtney and Oliver. Oliver, who as always behaved like a champ during dinner, was falling asleep now in his car seat. But even though his little eyes were closed, he stuck his little hand out from under his little green blanket and held my finger while he slept. Talk about melting your heart. A few minutes later — his eyes still closed — he put his little remote control on his shoulder and rested it just below his ear as he slept away for the rest of the ride home.
Bob introduced us to Guitar Hero, which rocked our socks off. I was defeated twice by Cheap Trick’s “Surrender”; despite my best efforts, I was the evening’s Guitar Zero. Bob could rock it like Hendrix with his eyes closed. James also took to it very quickly and rocked us all with a wide variety of selections. Dan, Cathy and Courtney also had much success.
And that was Bob’s one-day-later birthday extravaganza. My deepest thanks to the Borgelts and the Nevilles for dinner and dessert.
Our waiter at Buca looked like Clark Kent. Very tall, black hair, reporter glasses. Dan and I kept saying “Clark” when he was nearby, and we quietly hummed the Superman theme when he was at the table. If he didn’t acknowledge us, it was only because he was trying to maintain his secret identity.