Growing up in Bountiful, Utah, our family rarely took vacations anywhere except to see Grandma in California - for elevan years in a row because "it was probably the last time we would see her." Duringthose visits to California, we also saw most of my father's eleven brothers and sisters who lived in Southern California as well. Often talked about, but never seen was Uncle Ralph, the oldest of the eleven who had stayed in Akron, Ohio, since the family's immigration from Italy years before. In 1974, five of us loaded in a two door Ford Pinto to make the trip back to Ohio to meet Uncle Ralph for the first time.
On our way, my 15-year-old sister asked why all the aunt's never seemed to have a good thing to say about Uncle Ralph's wife. My Dad laughed and said that they didn't really dislike her, they were just jealous because in a large Italian family of great cooks, she was clearly the best of the bunch and everybody always wanted to be at Ralph's house for supper.
When we arrived, amid tears of joy, we finally met Uncle Ralph and his mean old wife - who wasn't mean after all. When asked if we would stay for an afternoon meal, my Dad declined saying we just wanted to spend some time with them and that a glass of water or lemonade would do. With a finger in his face, my newly found aunt made it clear that we were staying for a meal. She grabbed my 9-year-old brother's hand and me and headed for the garden.
For dinner there was stuffed roasted chicken, pasta, fresh vegetables and wine for everyone, all prepared in what seemed like minutes. She let us believe that we helped her create the best meal we had ever had. She was warm, generous, funny and talented. She created in one afternoon a memory that would last a lifetime for all of us and certainly the highlight of that trip back east.
When we decided to create this place for you, our goal was to warmly welcome you into our home for a relaxing experience where the food is comfortable but exquisite, the surroundings beautiful but efficient and the hospitality upbeat yet genuine. I only knew her for four hours of my life, as she passed away a short time after our trip. She gracefully emulated all the qualities of what we believed you will experience here and her name was...