As I’ve mentioned before, most of our restaurant visits as a family were to fast food places, but occasionally, we would go somewhere a bit nicer, or least to a place that had cloth napkins. The Red Chile was a family favorite. When we were in an Italian mood, we would head to Vito’s. I can’t determine if this place still exists as there are two restaurants, Vito’s and Vito’s Pizza, listed online in the L.A. area. The place we went to was a modest, family-run restaurant with the traditional red and white checkered tablecloths. I remember it being a pretty far drive, so we didn’t go very often, as Dad didn’t like to drive in unfamiliar areas that had heavy traffic. Mom loved the eggplant parmesan, while Dad usually had the meatball sandwich. I was very small, and there was no kid’s menu, so I munched on meatballs and garlic bread. (Wow, what a healthy dinner!)
On this one particular visit which stands out in my mind, I ordered a Coke as usual. It was a hot day and I eagerly peeled off the paper wrapping on the straw and took a big sip. It tasted very funny. I couldn’t quite identify it at first, but Dad noticed my wrinkled nose. I told my parents that my soda didn’t taste right. My mom thought I was just being picky. Dad offered to order me another one (probably to get me to stop whining about it) but Mom didn’t want to make a scene. I went into tantrum mode, refusing to drink the soda. At some point, we figured out it was the ice cubes! They must have been stored in an area with something made with lots of onions and they had absorbed the distinct flavor.
I received a new soda, without ice. Our Italian dining adventure went on without any further issues. I can’t remember when or why we stopped going to this particular restaurant, but I still have the fuzzy memories and that taste of onion-flavored Coke to savor.