I used to lament often about all of the “lost” restaurant opportunities in high school, having dined more times than I could count at Boston Pizza. Mack would always rebuff my complaints, since a) nothing can be done to change the past, and b) he always believed it was the company held, and not the food, that was paramount. Though I loathe to cede to his wisdom, I must say that he might be right.
I’ve written only in passing about Zuppa (9843 110 Street), the default take-out midday purveyor of choice in the Grandin area. Besides one blissful eat-in lunch of their home-made soup and side of baked pita chips, my other experiences have been less than noteworthy over the years, complete with greasy omelets, weak coffee, and a demonstrated philosophy of quantity over quality with their bland wraps and pastas.
Likely not helped by the lack of choice in our immediate neighbourhood, Echo and I ended up there for lunch on Thursday. We joined a very long line at 11:45, as the three staff members shuffled through the typical business lunch crowd. A quick once-over of their specials and their regular menu convinced us to split an Italian Grill on Focaccia ($6.50) and their famous Warm Cheddar Chicken Caesar Wrap ($8.50).
While Echo paid for our order (thanks again for lunch!), I snagged one of the tables by the window. It seemed that just after she sat down to join me, our food was ready, and was brought to us by the cheerful busperson.
Only included with dine-in orders, a side pasta salad was present on both our plates. As expected, the servings were huge, so much so that I only managed to finish the salad and my half of the panini. Between bites of the crunchy Italian Grill (slightly spicy from the cuts of meat, and held together nicely by gooey, melted cheese), catching up with a friend made me realize that food should fade into the background, and in good company, even lacklustre entrees are somewhat elevated.
I suppose this review reads like a backhanded compliment to Zuppa, and though I don’t mean it in that way exactly, lunch there brought me to the belated epiphany that with all of my focus on food lately, I have tended to forget that who I dine with is just as important as what I am eating.