Before I can kick off the new year with a fresh start, there are a few things I must clear from my restaurant plate ...
Dear Fazio's, The reason you're a Charleston institution is because you've been serving up good Italian food in cozy surroundings for decades.
Some say walking inside your restaurant on Bullitt Street is like stepping into a restaurant in Little Italy itself. I say it's actually like stepping back into the 1950s. Even as new restaurants and food trends have come and gone, you've stayed true to your roots by refusing to change a thing.
And God bless you for it.
So imagine my horror - he writes, wincing - when we brought out-of-town family to your place over the holidays and discovered you've changed how you prepare one of your signature dishes. The blow was especially devastating because I had been bragging about that very dish on the drive to dinner that night.
"I always swear I'm going to order something different," I announced, "but I just can't get enough of their Chicken Cacciatore. Phenomenal!"
Well, it used to be.
Although I have a handful of favorites on the menu, this steaming plate of chicken bathed in a sauce of tomatoes, herbs, onions, mushrooms, red wine and sherry over pasta has always stood out to me because of the breaded chicken cutlets at its base.
I know the "traditional" recipe calls for plain sauteed chicken, but Fazio's use of breaded and fried cutlets always lent a distinctive toasted taste and texture that just brought everything in the dish together beautifully.
Last week, however, my plate was served with naked chicken. The resulting taste fell so far short of what I remember that I nearly cried. The sauce was as good as ever, but the soul of the dish was gone.
My wife and I just kept staring at the plate, mouths agape, while our dinner guests worried if we'd survive this setback.
Hey Fazio's, let's ring in 2014 by righting this wrong. Baby, it's cold outside. Put a tasty coat back on that chicken!