“The chilly Wednesday evening before Angeli Caffe closed for good, you could grab a bar seat at Pizzeria Mozza without waiting, and there were only two or three dudes in line at Pink’s hot dog stand. If you were ambling down Melrose on your way to a bite or a drink, you could have had your choice of any table at any restaurant on the usually crowded strip.
But Angeli was really crowded, astonishingly crowded, with people there to wish the restaurant well — longtime customers, mostly, some of them with college-age kids who had been going to Angeli since infancy: patting out floury balls of pizza dough as toddlers, graduating to roast chicken as children, perhaps having their first dates there as teens, knowing the mashed-potato croquettes and the gnocchi with brown butter and sage would never let them down.
Laura Avery from the Santa Monica Farmers Market was there, and food activist Susan Haymer, and a couple dozen other people I knew, or thought I knew from my years of going to the restaurant, and Evan Kleiman seemed to be at every table at once, dispensing hugs like aspirin tablets, consoling her customers on a day when she may have needed mothering most of all. Her caffe had been chugging since the end of 1984, long enough to see its brand of rustic, lusty Italian food seem avant garde, modish, popular, everyday, fusty and popular again, although the cooking, oddly enough, remained exactly the same.”
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