I ate at a “$2” restaurant

 The new thing: I ate at a restaurant because I had a coupon.

Here’s how it happened: I got an email from restaurant.com about a special deal: Buy a $2 coupon and get $25 off a meal. Scrolling through the list of participating restaurants, I laughed when I saw a local Italian place that I diss every time I drive by it. It’s housed in a nondescript brick building with an entrance that’s below street level. “Who would ever eat there?” I’d say to my husband. “The restaurant’s in the basement!”

Its website featured a few glossy close-ups of old-school dishes with captions like  “giant homemade stuffed meatball” and “chicken with broccoli rabe—I like it with hot cherry peppers too.” (Wait, who’s saying that??)  There was also a panoramic shot of the glittering Manhattan skyline at night—an odd graphic since the restaurant is in Union, New Jersey!

The place’s tagline, “Where friends become family and family become friends,” made me think Tony and Carmela Soprano would enjoy eating there.

Ultimately, my love of a good discount superseded my irrational dislike of a restaurant I’d never eaten at, so I bought a coupon and took my family there Friday night.

It turned out the Sopranos were right.

The food was delicious and comforting, nicely cooked and flavorful. While there was nothing particularly innovative about the menu—they stuck to Italian standards—they did them well. My husband (chicken with Portobello mushrooms),  son (linguini with mussels), and I (salmon Florentine) were well-fed and happy. The staff was welcoming. They poured generous glasses of the house wine. There was live entertainment! And the place was packed.

It was the best $2 I ever spent.

Mom or the movies?

This is my first blog here, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Each post will describe something new I’ve tried recently–an activity, behavior, food, music, anything that will enrich or entertain me (hopefully, you too). I promise it will be fun, interesting and, most importantly, short (300 words or less).  Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

The new thing: I didn’t follow the rules.

Here’s how it happened: I had to make a choice–go to the movies with my husband and son or visit my mother in her assisted-living home, as I’d promised her.

If I was an unselfish person or starring in a Lifetime movie, I wouldn’t have had the following thoughts:

• I had a busy week and deserve to go to the movies

• I just visited Mom two days ago

• It’s unfair that my husband and son get to have fun without me

• I really want to eat popcorn.

I thought it over for a while. But instead of doing what my 12 years of Catholic schooling were telling me to do, I chose the movies. I called my mother. I said, “I can’t visit you today after all. But I’ll come over on Monday and we’ll go have coffee together.” I held my breath, waiting to hear the disappointment in her voice. But instead, Mom sounded chipper. “That’s okay, Nan. Monday’s good. I wanted to go play bingo this afternoon anyway.”

The popcorn was fabulous.