May 31, 2006

Jump to the left... step to the right... let's do the time warp again... Mio Vicino (Campbell)

During our recent visit to Mio Vicino, I found myself flashing back to odd memories from my childhood.

Family dinners out to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, or the fact that Mo inadvertently set the brand new oven on the 'clean' cycle when preparing what was to be our inaugural dinner from the remodeled kitchen.

Typically Italian food or seafood, though Chinese was also an occasional favorite.

It wasn't the meatballs (covered with cheese) that topped the spaghetti delivered to our nearest neighbors on the restaurant's patio that took me back in time.

Nor was it the basket of warm, ueber-fresh sourdough bread delivered to our table -- crusty on the outside, soft and, well, sour on the inside.

It wasn't even anything directly food-related.


So what *was* it, you ask?

A trip to the ladies room to prevent a permanent tomato stain on my brand new spring sweater.

The *ladies* room?!?!?

You bet.

Growing up, my girlfriends and I were obsessed with exploring restaurant ladies rooms. The countertops -- kitchy tile, modern (for the time) formica or sleek stone surfaces? The fixtures -- brass was our favorite find. The soaps -- orange surgical scrub, gritty comet-like soap, or floral perfumy and lotion-thick "luxury" soap? Paper towels or air blowers? The menu could wait, we just *had* to know the secrets sheltered behind the bathroom door.

Okay, we were weird. I'm all grown up now, and I've overcome my obsession. Without therapy. So I was more than a little surprised as I wandered into the ladies room in search of a damp paper towel for blotting and found myself stepping back in time. Surrounded by orange and lime green walls with more than a dozen 12-inch mirrors in basic geometric shapes behind the sink, I momentarily forgot my mission as I surveyed the scenery. I was ten again.

A strange look from a woman at the sink interrupted my reverie, I doused a paper towel with water, dabbed at my sweater, and returned sheepishly to my table. To add "orange" "lime green" and "mirrors" and "disco-70's" to my notes about the Mio Vicino experience.

So what did we *eat* you want to know?

Oh yeah. Average Italian-bistro fare.

As an appetizer, we chose the fried calamari -- tender enough, but with WAY too much barely-seasoned breading for me; the calamari got lost.

John then chose the penne bolognese which he thoughtfully let me try. The tomato cream sauce was excellent, but the sausage had far too much (read: detectable amounts of) fennel for me.

I opted for the goat cheese pizza with kalamata olives and pine nuts -- all ingredients I adore. Yummy, but rich-rich-rich. I finished less than a third of the single-serving portion. Leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

We paid the check, packed the leftovers and hit the road quickly -- I think John was afraid I was going to sneak back into the restroom with my digital camera...

Mio Vicino Cafe
384 E. Campbell Avenue, Campbell

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