La Serenata

Remembering a family restaurant that meant much more to its regulars than a good, Italian dinner.

| Spring 2017

I opened the door of La Serenata around 5:30 as usual. It was a cold winter evening in early 1959, and the restaurant's thick garlicky warmth was like a second door to walk through. I waved at Paul Russo, part-owner and bartender, and smiled at his brother Vince, part-owner and maitre d'.

"Evening, Mr. Skloot. We've got your table ready."

I hung up my overcoat, checked that I had all the papers I needed, and followed Vince to my booth near the kitchen. I liked the anonymity of its location, and the hubbub when Vince rushed through the doors releasing the voices of his mother, wife, and sister-in-law as they cooked.

Vince unfolded the white cloth napkin for me and handed me a menu. "Mama's cooking tonight," he said. "So you might want to try the Home Made Ravioli."

"Thank you, Vince. I had the Shrimps fra Diavolo last night."

"Make Mr. Skloot his drink, Paul," he called as he left for the kitchen.