Somewhere near Genoa, Italy
We had left Venice that morning and were on our way to Nice. It was a Sunday (when many Italian restaurants are closed) so we knew our chances of a successful detour off the highway to find a decent restaurant that was open were slim. That said, we had been impressed by many of the “Auto Grills” along the way with their heaping displays of paninis, salads, fresh fruit, cheese, pasta, beer and wine. We stopped at the next one we saw and along with a supermarket full of the aforementioned goodies, we were in for a treat. They had a cafeteria-style restaurant; you stood in line to pick out what you wanted but they cooked to order.
To start we had fresh mozzarella and tomatoes from the salad bar. We approached a woman behind the counter and she put some fresh pasta in a pot of boiling water. Less than a minute later the pasta was fished out and covered with a simple red sauce. She handed us the plates; we moved down the line where, had we wanted it, a young guy offered to grill us a steak, a hamburger or a veal chop. Past the grill guy we saw roasted chickens that had been cut in half with the appropriate side carb of roasted potatoes sprinkled with fresh rosemary. The surprise dish of the day? Fresh swordfish. When was the last time you saw grilled swordfish at a New York State Thruway stop?
We grabbed a half bottle of Chianti and sat down to eat. What was placed on each table? A bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a basket of those Italian breadsticks that come in paper wrappers. For dessert, we could have had our choice of any number of sweets (cake, pudding, pastry, ice cream) but decided to grab a couple of Perugina Baci’s . Chocolate kisses and real kisses were in order after a lunch of that caliber.