When good things come to an end…

IMG_3480Though I love eating out, I am everything but a food snob. OK, with the exception of the ‘Salade Riche‘ I so much adore (and had last weekend again) at one of my favorite French restaurants, Bel Ami. I guess that salad would classify as rather snobbish with its abundance of fish and duck liver curls. But aside from that sensual dish of pure gastronomic indulgence, I am not partial to fancy restaurants that serve ‘artistic’ cuisine with smudges of food, flowers, geometric patterns or foaminess that reminds me of spit. Nor am I impressed by ‘well-known’ chefs or their Michelin stars. In fact, the type of food (and type of restaurant) that I most enjoy is down-to-earth. Real food. Real people. Real passion. And sometimes, there’s a great deal of passion to be found in those ‘simple’ restaurants, which unfortunately are either never discovered or too ‘plain Jane’ for some.

A  little over a year ago, my husband and I stumbled upon a cozy Italian restaurant-slash-delicatessen which stole our hearts after that very first meal. The front of the establishment was a shop that would make any Italy lover’s heart sing. Books, espresso machines, olive oils, gorgeous wines, flours, sweets, toys, postcards. You name it, they had it. The restaurant was past this area, toward the back, in what can best be described as a friendly ‘living room’ setting. Not many tables, a few elegant armoires holding wine glasses or books and decorated with colorful knick-knacks or religious paraphernalia. The warmth of the place was also very much reflected in the service. There were no pushy waiters to speak of, just the owner and one waitress who took care of you without constantly following you with their eyes. You were always made to feel at home. It was a place where you could both eat and exhale! Though the lunch menu didn’t offer a  very big selection, it was always perfect. Sometimes during the week, I would suddenly find myself craving their antipasti platters and silky Nero d’Avola. I still remember how last Valentine’s Day we were lucky enough to savor an exceptionally crafted three-course lunch. It was like a taste of heaven in so many ways.
You can only imagine our shock when last Saturday we drove to Bussum, looking forward to lunch at our little Italian hideaway, and noticed something was wrong before even setting foot inside. The flag with their logo was gone and so was the chalkboard they always had on the sidewalk. We walked in, and that sinking gut feeling we had was confirmed. Allegria was closing down. After fourteen years, the owner had made this difficult and heartbreaking decision. We later found out the details through their Facebook page. Because honestly, the sorrow in his eyes was so heavy that we didn’t find it appropriate to ask many questions. We could only wish him luck.
What a shame that these things have to happen. For us, it was a place we enjoyed and where we created some fond food memories. For them…  it’s so much more. Allegria’s shop, if you are interested, will be open until the 21st. They are selling their last bits and pieces.

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