OLGA’S PLACE. 454 W Main St, Westville. 219.785.7100
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday Night is when restaurants are busiest. It's also the night when an all out effort should be put forth to insure the place is running perfectly. Largely because it's also First Impression Night. Folks are shooting the works to celebrate the weekend. You can almost sense the restaurants stepping back a bit and rubbing their collective shoe tips on the back of their pant cuffs.
There's been a lot of talk about Olga's Place this past summer. It's been all good talk. A billboard exclaims the presence of a brick oven! That's a major plus for me!
There is also the sad tale of how their application for alcoholic beverage service was denied due to its close proximity to a nearby church. That has to hurt. It kept me away for a long time. Finally, the brick oven's strong magnetic pull won out and reeled me in like a burned out satellite. Beer or no beer, I had to see for myself.
My baby and I drove up and noticed Olga's was quite busy. A good sign. We parked in the back and used the rear entrance. Great big windows allow for a full and almost invasive view of the kitchen. Workers were busy minding their food, oblivious to us, just outside. Everything looked OK except for some towels or rags on the floor. We pushed on. Inside, there is the checkout counter where you wait for a table. It's a pretty big counter but filled with stacks of papers and various tchotchkes. Unkempt is a nice description. Directly across is the Pizza Station. The show piece. The keystone. The crown jewel of the restaurant. It's designed nicely and operated by a tall, young lady. We were just in time to see her pluck a hunk of wet dough from a dough box and deposit it onto a rather dirty make table. The NSF white polyethylene surface had a huge, brownish stain in the middle where all the crafting is performed. Out comes a rolling pin. She leaned into that sorry blob and went to work. The deflated skin just sat there in defeat. But, at least it covered the brown stain. Next, a large commercial size bag of shredded white cheese is brought out and heaped onto the poor excuse for a pizza. I got $10 bucks that says she loaded on at least a pound of cheese or more. The "I'd rather not be bothered" waitress seated us before I could see the remaining bastardization. As we sat down, I could see the pizza girl pick up a big aerosol can and furiously spray something onto the pizza. What the ......??? I muttered under my breath, I ain't eatin' this. Behind the pizza girl, sat a five or six foot Earth Stone oven. It was dark as a cave. Dumbfounded, I had to walk up and see where she was going to stick her "creation". Inside, I could barely see but there was another pizza in there. I had to ask. Where's the fire? She whipped around and turned on the gas nozzle. FOooF!, go the gas jets inside the oven. I hung my head and returned to my table. Now a smart guy would simply pick up and leave. Not me. I'm weird like that. Baby says she is going to order a pizza. But... Didn't you just see...? She is way weirder. Her mind made up, she ordered the Amsterdam pizza. It's a well known fact that Amsterdam is the Mecca for pizza. Me? Not a chance. I'm playing safe and ordering the much heralded spaghetti and wonderful meatballs. You can't screw that up, right? If you've read this far, you know the answer. Here comes our " I wish you would go away" waitress. "Would you care for an appetizer?, she asked. Oh sure. Why not? There are no sharp knives on the table with which to cut my wrists, so... Let's risk an appetizer. Baby ordered Brochette. Who doesn't like a little medley of diced tomatoes, onion and garlic with some cheese on crispy broiled bread? Waiting for the food, we soaked up the ambiance. The tables were covered in some sort of Eastern European tablecloths. Your grandma had them You remember. The walls had some type of color scheme that would have worked except for the constant barrage of the overhead fluorescent tubes beating out every ounce of civility the room had to offer. Overhead fluorescents cast an accusing kind of light that bleaches your soul and at the same time affords you an honest look at the floor and the bits left behind by previous diners. Pssst! Up lighting.
Within a few minutes the brochette appears. A huge pile of melted white cheese smothering a hunk of bread two levels down. With knife and fork in hand, Baby disassembled the brochette with the deft expertise of a forensic scientist. Would you look at that? A slight redness that betrayed a scant, no a hint, no... a blush that whispered tomato. If you ever go to cheese heaven, be sure to skip this one. The one plus was that it went great with the warm iced tea.
Here it comes! Our order has arrived. The Amsterdam showed up first. It was big and shiny. The crust shone like a Hot Sam pretzel. No doubt the big aerosol can contained Pretzel Shine. It was cut pie style. A quick upskirt view of the bottom revealed a slight browning indicating a cold oven. The top was all cheese, baby. Thick, gooey and under baked. White as the Arctic save for a very small piece of basil which appeared to be hiding in shame. She picked up a slice and it dropped to the six o'clock position. Straight down like a compass pointing to Hell. Just shameful. Same story as the appetizer. Nothing but cheese. I guess that's how it's done in Amsterdam. Bravely, Baby cut up a piece and tried to eat it. After much chewing effort, the result was a cud of white, Bazooka bubble gum that defied swallowing. She gave up. My order showed up in a big white bowl. Naturally, it was topped with melted white cheese. The pasta gave up all hope last Thursday and died. At the bottom of the bowl was about one inch of water so my guess is the cause of death was drowning. The sauce was unremarkable and the two measly meatballs were there just to keep each other company. "Melt in your mouth" should never be a description for pasta. A little fight is desirable. I asked for some Parmesan cheese to soak up the water. We sat there, a mere four feet from the pizza girl, the owner and our waitress, just staring in disbelief at our orders. Out of the kitchen comes a huge plastic bag of grated parmesan. Unceremoniously it was dumped out of the bag into the canister right before our very eyes. No mystique about it. Just flannel pajamas, raw and cold. They merrily chirped away, laughing, in some language we didn't understand. The parmesan didn’t help. Three bites and I threw in the napkin. We set a world land speed record for receiving and finishing our dinner. Five minutes, tops. The ONLY person who got it was one hard working, Hispanic waitress. She knew. She came over and said something to Baby. Kinda like the little nothings people whisper to you in a funeral home. She really knew. Our "I hope you leave soon" waitress came over and dropped off a couple of take home boxes. We paid the bill and crept out the back way without one inquiry of our satisfaction. We intend to drop off the leftovers to give the boys in the lab something to do come Monday. Next stop was a cheeseburger down the street.