Our waiter meets us at the door and shakes his head as we veer toward the bar. No bar for us. It's the full experience, on a nice table in the front where we can enjoy the sunlight filtering in from outside.
He's all attentiveness and for a moment I worry that we've strayed into a pricey social gaffe, that he's expecting us to order from the full menu. But no: he places before us the bar menu, which is plentiful with interesting dishes but low on price. The lunch special is $17.50 and includes a glass of wine.
The meatballs are our inevitable order.
First, though, some bread: a garlic pane di casa served with olive oil. I have a weakness for good olive oil and this oil was smooth and slightly spicy. I had to remind myself to share.
The wine isn't too far along and it's surprisingly good. I wasn't expecting good wine for a lunch special, but this cleanskin is a full-bodied red. It's the sort of wine of which I'm tempted to order another glass.
The meatballs are, apparently, different. 'See? Different every time!' my companion crows, as though it's some kind of miracle. I'm fairly certain that the element of surprise adds a certain zest because although the meatballs are tasty, they don't live up to expectations. The sauce is a light napoli and the cheese is lightly flavoured too.
We finish up with a coffee as the attentive waiter scrapes our table of crumbs.
'You have my permission to invite me here more often,' I inform my companion. He gives me a glowing smile. I look forward to another round of meatball surprise.