A sad sight greeted me at the Hummerville station this morning, a sight that’s probably popping up near stations all over the area.
The Italian restaurant Bel Paese, located directly across the street from the station, had a huge For Rent sign on it.
I certainly wasn’t a regular at Bel Paese (pronounced Pie-Z, not that it matters anymore). I’d eaten there three times. It was mediocre, though the portions were huge. The Missus and Little G and I hit all the local restaurants in our first six months or so in the ‘burbs, and promptly had our fill of just-OK red sauce joints, which meant we wouldn’t be going back to Bel Paese any time soon.
But I liked it there. It was the only real restaurant in Hawthorne’s blink-and-you-miss-it downtown area, not counting Gordo’s, which has bar food and is located a few hundred yards past the train station–an unsafe walk with no sidewalks. The few times we went to Bel Paese, the atmo was lively and everyone seemed to know each other. Sure, you could get better grub in Pleasantville or White Plains, but there was something to be said for a restaurant in your zip code. Once a man at a table near us commented on Little G’s Ramones t-shirt, and we had a short, pleasant convo about the band. There was live Italian music sometimes. There were autographed pictures of Rangers hockey players I didn’t recognize.
In fact I’d even been in there before we moved out of the city. We’d been shown the house we later ended up buying, and were set to make an offer. But we decided I would try the commute first–check out the train, see how the walk was from the station, maybe chat up a few locals about what they like/don’t like about the area–before making that 30-year commitment.
It was about 95 degrees that day. I’d hiked up the big hill to the house and decided, if I could do it in 95 degrees, I could do it any time. I was waiting for my return train to the city, and desperately needed a bathroom. I asked the maitre d at Bel Paese if I could kindly use the bathroom–an authorized bum’s rush–and she said yes. I remember thinking it’d be nice to have a little Italian joint here, across from the train.
Well, it is no more. And it’s hard to imagine, in this economy, anything going in there any time soon.
Arrivederci, Bel Paese.