When I eat out, I want more than a menu and a fork. I don’t always get everything on my restaurant wish list, but here’s what I hope to find. Cafe Napoli scored nearly perfect.
I look for:
- Parking near the door.
- A menu printed in, at least, an 8-point font.
- A spacious patio in case it ever gets cool enough to eat outside again.
- Warm bread and cold water.
- An artsy presentation, because we tend to “eat” with our eyes first. Come on, kitchen guys, at least throw on a sprig of parsley.
- A personable server able to connect with customers. (I remember that Pres. Bill Clinton had the knack of making the person he talked with seem like the only one in the room. I like that quality in a server, as well as a politician.)
- A server who speaks clearly and slowly enough for diners to understand.
- A well-detailed bathroom.
- A pleasant ambiance. A musical sound track from the 60s, or earlier, enhances digestion.
- A straw and lemon for my iced tea.
- A large cloth napkin or quality paper ones–preferably extra large.
- Kitchens with a can-do attitude. One that accommodates reasonable requests rather than telling you it can’t be done.
One Word Says It All
We often sum up the things that make for enjoyable and memorable dining with the word “service.” Size and location of the restaurant doesn’t always make a difference. Even some hole-in-the-wall diners have figured out the kitchen and dining room details, that keep customers happy.
Upscale restaurants are especially good with the flourishes as is Cafe Napoli in Clayton.
Servers Are the Face of a Restaurant
Our warm welcome began at the door. This evening we were escorted to a window tablet for two at Cafe Napoli in Clayton. The spot happened to be my favorite in the dining room, unless I eat on their spacious patio.
Ice water and warm bread appeared immediately from a young woman, who took her task seriously throughout the evening. Our server, Bryan, guided us through the specials, showing enthusiasm for those he liked. He agreed to turn the appetizer eggplant parmesan that I ordered into an entrée-size portion. Perfect!
Despite the evening rush hour, our server had time for a bit of small talk and inquired regularly as to our needs. In what was a nice Old World touch, a charming maître d’ with an Italian accent also checked our wellbeing.
A Touch of Deja Vu
I noticed at a nearby table for six, that four servers lined up behind the chairs of the waiting diners and set the plates down simultaneously. I had to smile. It was what we did at formal dinners at the Governor’s Mansion. The plate delivery, made with military precision, always amused our guests pleased by the unique presentation.
We left Cafe Napoli feeling well-fed and cared for. It was an evening of great attention to details—and that always makes a difference in restaurants—or anything else.
Cafe Napoli: 7754 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton, at the corner of Forsyth and Bemiston. Open: Dinner, Mon-Thu 5:30p-10p. Fri-Sat 5:30p-11p. Closed: Sunday. Napoli 2 is located in Town and Country; Napoli 3 in St. Charles.