Large pizza, extra sense of community, coming right up.

My parents are truly lucky. Nestled in the middle-of-nowhere town of Keysville, VA, they have access to pizza and Italian food that’s hard to beat until you travel north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Pino’s Pizza serves up some of the finest pie outside of New Jersey, and certainly better than most anything I can find in Richmond. I have to drive at least 15 minutes to find passable fare while my country-dwelling parents are about a mile from a treat.

I gathered new appreciation for the joint today, however, when Val and I took my mom and step-dad to Pino’s for lunch in celebration of Mom’s birthday. See, we used to get pizza there almost every Friday evening when I lived at home, and Mom and Paulie continued that tradition even after all the kids were out of the house. I found out when entering the restaurant, however, that my parents had stopped going regularly in the interest of preserving their collective health. Mimo, the proprietor, chided Paulie in a thick Sicilian accent for his absence, but was clearly happy to see us show up. Discussion, as between friends, followed for a few moments about zeppoli (an off-the-menu treat), life, and work before we were told to sit wherever we liked.

Paulie and my mom are each half Italian which is rare in a small Southern town, so perhaps that enables such camaraderie, but it was pleasant to see a business owner treat a regular (or former regular) with such genuine friendliness. In honor of my mom’s birthday, ALL OF US were offered a serving of tiramisu. While I paid for the meal at the front counter Paulie, Mimo, and I discussed off-the-menu ideas that would bring my parents back to regular status.

I left with a feeling of connectedness to that establishment – a mutual feeling of provision, in that we provided a portion of the success of Mimo’s business, and he our gastronomic pleasure. I felt a real desire to foster that feeling of neighborliness – an Old World interconnected sense of community, whereupon each citizen contributes to each other’s well being. A sense of community that’s fading even from the small towns here in the American South, where you know the tailor, the butcher, the restaurateur, the mail man, the sheriff, etc.

This is what draws me so to small businesses. I want to operate one. I want to work with them. I want to help them succeed. I want them to help me succeed. I’m not talking about a veiled form of nepotism here – I’m talking about community.

4 thoughts on “Large pizza, extra sense of community, coming right up.

  1. Mimo once owned the Pino’s in Victoria back when Pino’s was around and good. My dad was a regular and Mimo even had a sandwich named after him on the menu. It was awesome going in there with my dad and having Mimo or any of the wait staff and ask him if he wants the Bob. I totally agree with you about the food. I loved their cheese steaks so much. It was a sad day when Marino’s one the italian food war in Victoria. I haven’t had a good cheese steak since.

  2. Holy crap – Jen, you visited my site! How’s New York these days? And life?I guess I’m approaching that all-too-prestigious mark of “almost ten readers.”Thanks for stopping by.

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