Hey there, neighborhood of ours! Just when you were probably thinking, "Is Van ever coming back from his honeymoon?" here I am, with Tillie in tow. Excuse our absences, but in case you weren't aware or missed that honeymoon reference a sentence ago, I was off getting hitched to Tillie's mom, or as I sometimes like to refer to her now, "Mrs. Tillie's mom."
Anyway, we're back and Tillie and I are ready to do more eating. And you're about to witness something for the first time in LWT history: a return trip to a restaurant we've already visited, Italian restaurant Anima on Myrtle Avenue.
Why the return, you might ask? Well, Tillie and I have been to a LOT of the restaurants in the tri-neighborhood area, and for some of those back in the early days, her meals mainly consisted of blueberries or Cheerios. As she's grown to become quite the gourmand, I thought it would be good to revisit from time to time some of the places she didn't get to sample the goods. And if a restaurant is doing something new and different than from our original visit, all the better. Such was the case with Anima.
If it escaped you, the restaurant has installed a wood-burning oven and is now making pizza. My love for the pie and my intentions of bringing that feeling to Tillie are well documented, so I won't go into the details about how excited I was to try their take on my favorite dish. Let's just say when the dinner discussions around here come up, I had been suggesting to Tillie's mom literally every night, "Hey, let's try the pizza at Anima!" For whatever reason, it didn't work, so it was up to me and T to make it happen.
We went out there on that nasty rainy day last week and when we arrived, the place was empty, save for one couple who looked to be wrapping things up. We got all settled in the big dining area near the new oven, which Tillie pointed at and said "hot" because of the fire.
There wasn't much menu perusing to be done save for the pizza section, so my eyes went there. There were a few options that definitely looked appealing, but the Diavola, which had onions, spicy salami, olives and a spicy sauce, stood out. I debated whether to order that or not as the emphasis was on "spicy" and I did have a 19-month-old I was planning on sharing it with. To be on the safe side, I got it half plain and half with the hot stuff. I also ordered a bowl of carrot soup for Tillie to eat. (More on that later.)
The waiter brought us out some bread to snack on and I tried dipping some in olive oil for T, but she really wasn't having that. No worries, I could respect her choice. I was in a pretty happy mood—not that I would get worried about a kid not dipping their bread in the olive oil! Rather, the music coming over the speakers was, well, music to my ears! Hope this doesn't damage my street cred among the parenting set, but I'm a huge fan of music from '80s English bands, and whatever satellite station the radio was set to kept my jams coming in full force.
When we first got in the place, "Heartbreak Beat" by the Psychedelic Furs was playing, which lifted the rain clouds for me. Then the Cure, Flock of Seagulls, the Smiths—the hits just kept on coming! There was even more from the Furs with "Pretty in Pink." The melodies of the songs were inspiring Tillie to rock it out a little in her high chair, just like her old man was in his big seat!
We were having a good time, then the pizza arrived. It looked as close to perfect as a pizza could (I know, it's sad that I appreciate the aesthetics of a pizza so much)! I took a bite of my half first because I wanted to see if it would possibly be too much for my spicy-curry-eating dining companion to handle. It did have a kick to it, so I decided to avoid giving it to her. I cut her a bite of the plain half, which worked great for her as I couldn't feed it to her fast enough. I couldn't blame her because the pizza was really, really good.
I don't want to sound like I'm too carried away, but the pizza was truly excellent. The cheese, the sauce, the salami, the char of the crust: just wonderful. We were enjoying the pizza, we weren't even thinking about the soup I ordered. Actually, come to think of it, whatever did happen to that soup? It never showed!
I asked the waiter if that was coming and turned out there was a mistake. The soup of the day was actually barley, but the board with the specials listed had the wrong one on there. When the waiter came out to tell us what happened, I told him no worries, we were good with just the pie. I put the kibosh on my half and Tillie made a nice dent in hers before I finished it up for her.
Bellies full, we sat back and listened to the sweet sounds of Duran Duran and reflected upon our meal. We got the check and I thanked all the workers there for a good meal and the exceptional service they gave me and Tillie.
So, seeing as how I did go there again, I guess it's obvious that I'll be making return trips in the future. Don't worry, there won't be a Round 3 written up for Clinton Hill Blog! I would recommend anyone around should go there and definitely have the pizza. My tab was 12 bucks and we both ate off the pizza. The staff has always been so accommodating to us there as well, and if you like your music served up '80s-English-band style, I'm sure they could do that for you, too!