Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Sunday Noontime in Portland: Breakfast and Lunch at Di Prima Dolci

Dolly-girl poured a second cup of bad joe and put her pen down on her notebook where she'd been scribbling a few words to describe the day. "Jack, I'm tired of your cooking. Let's head over to Di Prima Dolci for something other than what you usually put in our feedbags." I looked up from the broadsheet, not just a little hurt. "There's a fine how-do-you-do on a Sunday morning, Dolly-girl. I don't know how to take that." "Take it for what it's worth, Jack. I love you, you know that, but Sunday brunch isn't your magnum opus, follow?"

Okay, so I know when to push back on Dolly-girl and I know when it's time to head over to the north side of Stumptown and check out the Italian bakery and cafe she'd been giving the once-over twice. I set the brake on the roadster and we walked up to the door. I put my hand on her back as I pushed the door open. "Your pushing me, Jack? Where's the fire?" I eased off on the pushed back and we walked in the joint. It looked the part of an Italian bakery and cafe on the Costa Pacifico side of l'Oceano Atlantico.

Dolly-girl got us a table while I checked out the bakery case and the whadda-ya-want. Di Prima is a joint where there aren't any missys. There's an Italian bird at the counter who takes your what-I-want and runs the macchina caffè and a couple of hash slingers over the stove. They're the ones who bring the feedbags to the table. I noticed there was tiramisu in the cooler. I wondered if Dolly-girl would go for it. She's been sort of off it since a pal-o-hers named Denella Dellarosa made one that went bad.

Dolly-girl found us a table that had a good enough view of the street just in case Trouble came looking on a Superbowl Sunday at noon. Problem was, it left me with my back to a room full of bikers and you never know when one of them's going to get latte-crazed and tear up a joint. I pushed Dolly-girl's chair to the right a little to improve my angle. I gave Messrs Smith&Wesson an obvious pat to let Schwinn and Raleigh know I'd seen The Wire and knew how to be tough. Dolly-girl looked at me, rolled her eyes, and pushed her chair back to the left. I was used to push back.

She cracked open the broadsheet while we waited. The noon whistle was blowing in her ear so she went for the jack with a side of bullets and a cuppa joe. I followed suit on the cuppa, but had them flop me a couple cackleberries the way Rose did for Loretta Castorini. I had them leave Noah's boy and the county corks in the alley.

It turned out to be a short wait. I'd flipped through the news-of-the-day and was looking over the lineup at the Meadows when a couple of plates slid into second, safely ahead of the tag.

Dolly-girl's jack looked like no jack I'd seen and I doubted there was any jack in it. "It's a panini, Jack. For someone whose supposed to be Italian, you don't know for much. It's the Bella Luna, and it's got provolone and mozzarella and fontina and it's got sun-dried love apples and then it's all grilled and it's delicious." It didn't get past me that she hadn't had a bite yet, but I wasn't pushing my luck on that she didn't know if it was delicious or not. She took a bit and purred. OK, so she was right, it was.

My Rose & Lorettas were looking just like the movies. Noah's boy was like a harem veil over some smoked mozzarella, over the hen fruit nestled in two pieces of ciabatta.

I cut into them and they were done just right. The corks were roasted up in some spices and had just the right bite. I must have gotten a wistful look in my eyes because Dolly-girl looked over at me, put her hand on mine, and said, "Just because they're called Mama D's eggs don't mean your mama ever cooked anything that good, Jack..." No sand in her coffee today. She pushed my arm and laughed. "Get over yourself." I did. We went back to bumping gums about some jingle-brain from Alaska that's in the news.

We worked our way through breakfast and lunch in a couple winks. Dolly-girl had seen a pizza being pushed into the oven when we walked in so she pushed her chair back and headed to the counter. She's always on the lookout for a good pie in Stumptown--it's not that common. Then I saw her push her nose up to the bakery case. There were Italian cookies in there and if there's one thing that will reel that woman in, it's a good cookie. I saw her pointing through the glass and then push a five-spot across the counter.

Dolly-girl said, "Coming or going, Di Prima Dolci is worth a trip back, Jack, and it sure beats your work over the stove." I gave her a look through her wave, put my hand on her back, and helped her out the door, maybe with a little faster than usual...


Ronna said...

Sounds delish!

Newsman said...

Makes the mouth water!
And the previous entry photos were superb, as usual.
Bravo, Jean!