Location: Washington, D.C., Date of event: December 14, 2006After a full day of meetings, I could not wait to relax and enjoy dinner somewhere where the atmosphere was warm and inviting. I remembered eating at a terrific Italian place years ago when I was in DC for a higher-ed conference. I was in that same neighborhood this trip and the restaurant turned out to be right across the street from the hotel where I was staying. I walked into Buca di Beppo. It was early, around six, and the restaurant was not terribly busy. Several staff members were standing in the lobby chatting. The hostess asked "How many in my party?" To which I replied "Table for one." A brief moment of silence hung in the air and I wondered what I had said that was so wrong. The hostess then asked if I had ever been to the Buca di Beppo before and I replied "Yes -- years ago." Then she said, "Oh so, you're familiar with our menu -- it's family style." It was then I remembered being there with about 15 people, sitting at a long table, packed with big bowls and platters of food. I caught on immediately and realized a single diner did not fit in too well here. But, I did not want to leave. I knew the food was good and I was hungry. I asked to see the menu and saw that they served pizza (which was what I had wanted anyway). I said, "Well, I'm in the mood for pizza and what I don't eat I'll take back to the hotel desk crew." Everyone was instantly relieved and happy to seat me. From then on, I was never alone. The waiter, the manager, the busboy -- anyone who worked there and happened by my table stopped to see if I needed anything. It turned out to be a lively dinner with good food and a wonderful atmosphere. I ordered a small pizza spinachi. Half of it went back to the hotel with me. The face of the desk clerk lit up when he saw the bag, "Buca di Beppo?" he asked. I nodded and passed my leftovers across the counter. Buca di Beppo -- great place to eat! I can't wait to go back and hope to bring a crowd!!http://www.bucadibeppo.com/
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