Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Nice Guy's View of the Finish Line

Leo Durocher once observed rather famously - or is claimed to have anyway - that "Nice guys finish last."  Leo the Lip went to his grave fighting to ensure that what it was he said was actually placed in the proper context.  It was not.  Candidly, it never has been.  And it shall likely never be.  It makes for too good a story in its misappropriated version.

Nice guys do indeed finish first.  Proof positive of that fact is my brother-in-law Frank.  Frank is Margaret's sole sibling - her older brother.  Right around the time my wife and I met close to a quarter-century ago Frank was in the restaurant business.  He and one of his cousins ran a thriving little Italian joint named Catari's in Bound Brook.  Unfortunately, many a business is not immune from economic turmoil.  Catari's proved not to be.  While Frank is an incredible chef and restaurant guy, he is even more dedicated to the personal side of the shop - being a husband and a father.  He and his better half Chrissy (I can say that for I have had the pleasure of knowing them both for close to twenty-five years and I know he would agree with me) have raised six children and, now, have watched the family business reach the next generation with three grandchildren having made their arrival within the past four years. 

Frank never gave up the dream of getting back into the restaurant business - of once again operating his own place.  For more than a decade, he has operated Jozanna's.  Up until a few weeks ago, the full name of the establishment was "Jozanna's Fine Italian Take-Out".  Now, while it remains a place where one can order food that one wants to eat in the comfort of one's own home, his long-planned new dining room is open.  And it is beautiful.  Like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon, "Jozanna's Fine Casual Dining" has emerged from what was once simply a great little take-out joint. 

If your travels take you through or near our little hamlet 'NTSG then do yourself the great service of calling upon Frank and his gang.  Jozanna's is located at 409 Lincoln Boulevard in Middlesex.  You do not need reservations and since it is BYOB, feel free to bring with you whatever your adult beverage of choice may be.  You cannot go wrong with anything you ask him - and his oldest son Joe - to prepare.  I am partial to the Stuffed Mushrooms and the Zuppa di Pesce (Fra Diablo) but even if your taste differs from mine, I assure you that you will not be disappointed. 

My favorite part of Jozanna's is what it represents.  It represents what happens when someone has the courage to pursue his dream and the werewithal to pick himself up after getting knocked down.  There is a great lesson in there too about the power of family and the whole being greater than the sum of its parts but you can see that for yourself when you stop in for lunch or dinner....

Frank and Joe

....thinking about the Zuppa di Pesce has made me really hungry.  


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