When out for a romantic dinner at a dimly lit little neighborhood Italian restaurant I would usually reserve my appetite for a prime-cut of meat or a house-made pasta dish, but last weekend two words stopped me dead in the “wood-fired pizza” section.
Last Saturday after a couple days of continuous carbo-loading on Turkey Day favorites, I was craving something with a little more zip, so Tess and I jumped at the opportunity for a night out and splurged on one of Madison’s most beloved institutions.
Since 1952, Lombardino’s off University Ave in Madison has combined classic Italian American restaurant ambiance with seasonal, forward-thinking dishes.
“We describe our cuisine as “the way Italians would cook if they lived in Wisconsin.” What this means is we combine locally-sourced ingredients from Wisconsin’s rich farm culture with Italian food traditions to create one-of-a-kind menus that showcase the best of both worlds.” -Co-owner Michael Bonas
That’s one heck of culinary mission if you ask me and the pizza I was after was the epitome of that vision.
My wood-fired delicacy came with Fraboni’s hot Italian sausage, spicy giardiniera, provolone and little dollops of San Marzano tomato sauce on top (my mouth is watering thinking about it).
The pizza came out piping hot and packed some serious heat from the spicy giardiniera. Instead of typical mozzarella, the toppings were embedded in a salty sheet of melted provolone that gave the pie a unique Italian beef vibe.
After a couple bites, I sat with my mouth ablaze in a moment of blissed-out exaltation. The spicy giardiniera and hot Italian sausage combo shined a light on how lucky I am to live in a world with such excellent pizza.
And down a rabbit hole of appreciation, I went…..
Soon, I was thinking about how fortunate I was to live in a city with such fantastic restaurants and to have family nearby that allow us to visit them and to sit across from the love of my life and soak up her company.
I felt grateful for my health, for my family’s health, and my friend’s health too; for our home and our amazing traditions and careers which allow us to live the way we do. I felt thankful for the changing of the seasons and to be alive; to be free in the most comfortable, convenient and technologically advanced age in human history.
I imagine it’s easy to think “How many times can this nut-job write about being thankful for pizza?!”
But, I believe author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said it best “Gratitude is the healthiest of all emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
So, for me, it’s not a one-off, it’s repetition in a life-long practice.
I’m mentally challenging myself to set my internal default to gratitude and to give Thanksgiving caliber thanks 365 days a year. Beyond the easy-to-appreciate kid-free nights and provolone covered wood-fired pizzas, I’m going to make counting my blessings a habit.
What I’m eating: Lombardino’s-The Fabroni
What I’m reading: Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney -Lee Cockerell