I usually avoid Italian restaurants in the US – why bother, when I can get far better Italian food from the grocery store at home? But during my last US trip I did end up going with friends for takeout to an Italian chain restaurant, Buca di Beppo (whose name is already funny to an Italian speaker: it means “Beppo’s hole'”). The scallop-and-shrimp pasta was more than decent, with just enough spice to make it interesting. The grilled vegetables were good. The garlic bread, while not resembling anything you’d ever see in Italy, was tasty.
But what really got me was the decor. You just never see anything like this in Italy. Never.
For starters: the restaurant is hung with banners and scarves from several different Italian football teams (besides Inter and Roma seen below, there were also AC Milan and others in other rooms).
This just ain’t gonna happen in Italy. You will occasionally see places, more often bars than restaurants, decorated with memorabilia from ONE football team – the one that the owner supports (sometimes defiantly, in the teeth of local prejudices). No one would dream of hanging a banner for an opposing team: that would risk bringing bad luck (sfiga) to his team, or would be like a devout Catholic putting a garlanded Ganesh in his place of business!
(No, that is not the proud owner of the restaurant- it’s my friend Dan.)