Our last night in Rhode Island my father wanted to take us to a Rhode Island pizzeria because “Rhode Island pizza isn’t like other pizza”. So, Uncle Donald and Cousin Vinny escorted us to Caserta Pizzeria on Federal Hill (the “Italian” section of a what seems to be an entirely Italian city). My father, excited at the prospect of eating a pie the likes of which he hasn’t tasted in years, aggressively approached the counter. “Mushrooms, peppers, anchovies…oh, Josie only likes pepperoni—throw on some pepperoni, too”. So thoughtful, my father.
Dad sits down at the table and happily recounts the order. “No black ahlivs?” Uncle Donald protests by throwing his hands in the air, “Whaddya thinkin’ no black ahlivs, yous gotta have black ahlivs.” So, Dad goes back and gets black ahlivs. When the pizza arrives, Dad points to a pepperoni buried beneath a small gray fish carcass. “I gotcha pepperoni.” I reach for my drink instead. I wasn’t that hungry, anyway.
My sister and I each are seated by the window and we huddle into our coats to hide from the cold draft seeping through the glass pane beside us. It is definitely February in Rhode Island. Cousin Vinny catches us commenting on our drafty seats and laughs.
“Y’know, when I was growing up I remember those being the days where yous couldn’t pay anyone to sit in the window of a restaurant on Fed’ral Hill.” He nods with meaning. My mother looks horrified. She detests mob stories. I, however, love them.
“Ooooh, why,” I ask.
“Well, that’s how you get shat, sitting in a window. Fed’ral Hill used to be run by gangs. If you was sitting in a window and they was looking for yah, they’d just drive by and gun yah down.” While I’m sitting there imagining bullets shattering windows and knocking bloody bodies to the ground, Vinny very casually takes another bite of his pizza. My mother puts her own piece down.
“No,” Vinny insists, “back then a window seat isn’t what you would call a coveted spat.”
“What about now,” Liza asks.
“Surely there aren’t gangs here now,” my mother insists.
“Ehhhhh…” Vinny says, shrugging and waving his hand.
Dad and Uncle Donald give half a shrug and each bite into their pizza as well.
Dad’s side of the family is AWESOME.