I stared at the defrosted fish, poked at the fresh spinach and then sighed, “I don’t feel like cooking – lets go to Ponte Simone.” Ponte Simone is Pontelandolfo’s latest new happening spot. The caffè/bar, tavolo caldo, grocery store, lotto parlor, slot machine parlor and more is the creation of a young and talented duo – Nicola D’Addona and Angela Varricchio. They took over a shop located at Ponte Sorgenza – just down the street from the center of town. Closed the old place for a few months and gave it a make-over. They even made the furniture for the new dining room.
Since I tasted Angela’s cooking, I have found a million reasons not to cook lunch. My first experience was a fabulous farro seafood salad. Since Jack and I are trying not to eat wheat or rice, finding a place that cooked with farro was wonderful. We often wander in, look at Angela and ask what we are eating today. I’ve had roasted meats, grilled vegetables, caprese salads, green salads, soups – no matter what she cooks I’ll eat it because it is always perfect. The price point is also perfect – I hate to make my USA pals jealous by telling them that it costs us less to eat at Ponte Simone than it would to buy the stuff and cook it in New Jersey!
Angela also makes the gelato that is sold here. Please don’t let my doctor know that I sampled some – how can I not eat sugar when there is home made melon gelato! She experiments with flavors that are unique and scrumptious.
Nicola is the bar man, grocery man and everything man. Even though my Italian is sub par, he smiles figures out what I want and it magically appears. Sadly, for me, every Campari Spritz I order comes with a tray of little noshes. I beg, I plead, don’t bring me the snacks. They still arrive and – gulp – I eat them. I feel like I’m in a little caffè in any Italian city at cocktail time. Lucky for me I only have to walk down the hill and stumble back.
The couple works with other local business and I truly applaud them for that. In the tiny grocery store I can buy meats from our local butcher, Franco Perugini. Normally, I go to his shop but if I am in a pinch and he is closed…
Normally, Ponte Simone closes at 8:00 PM. They put in 14 hour days. Then there are the nights they produce events – when no one sleeps and everyone parties. Music, a talent show, ethnic nights – the creative pair are turning this little corner of town into the place to be. Bravi!
Every Sunday night, I take over a table in the dining room for “English Conversation”. Whoever is interested in practicing their English that night shows up. We chat, raise a glass and enjoy the home-town atmosphere of Ponte Simone
The wonders of life in a small town is that everyone knows your name. Growing up in Flagtown meant I couldn’t do anything wrong because everyone knew who I was and would either kick my butt or tell my parents. Walking into Ponte Simone and hearing “Ciao Midge” reminds me of those days, puts a smile on my face and makes me remember how fortunate I am to be able to spend so much time in a little Southern Italian village.