Upon arrival I was picked up by my friend's husband and we drove on the 405 into the valley. Our stop on the way home was El Pollo Loco - he needed dinner and it was close to their house. These were sweet and generous people. They let me stay in their daughter's room who in turn slept in their room. Their house was in a section of Burbank that was close to an Ikea and the 5 freeway. Every day it was hot or raining. There were no people around. Just parked cars. When I had the guts I'd get in my rental car and drive around, trying to find something that looked normal. Looked fun. Or at least edible. I ended up spending a lot of time at that little house. This couple was super cool and super nice and maybe the best thing in this Godforsaken country. Despite their kindness, despite the fact they seemed normal, I was completely and quietly feeling rather out of my mind. As if it were a mantra, the line 6 months is a hell of a long time turned over and over in my head.
OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE??????
After one month I knew I should leave their house. Not to go back to New York. Not yet. That would be way too embarrassing. Instead I moved in with the only other person I felt comfortable around at that time. He was an acquaintance who had a cool job as a p.a. over at The Warner Brothers lot which sounded like nirvana to me. He was funny, smart and drove an old Cadillac Eldorado. He was also about to become one of my all-time best friends in the whole wide world: Adam. So down Olive I drove with my silly belongings to his place. This place. The most generic apartment complex in the world:
The nearest food was...
Remember Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) standing outside his new home in some Phoenix type suburb after he had joined The Witness Protection Program? The sun was bright. Nothing remotely pretty or with character was anywhere in sight. He explained how one night they wanted to get Italian. So they went to some nearby restaurant. He ordered pasta with marinara and they served him egg noodles with ketchup. Suddenly that scene had new meaning. I just came out here to be discovered and prove people wrong. I hadn't even killed anyone or sold really good coke. Good God will someone please tell me where's the good food at?
Luckily Adam had been here longer than I. He too was from New York, near The Bronx, was good friends with one of my closest friends in NY -- who had amazing taste; especially when it came to Italian food. I knew I could trust Adam if he said there was a good place to go and eat. In fact he had already done important reconn and knew where to take me.
One of the first important places Adam introduced me to was Monte Carlo Deli Market. Recently I found an occasion to make a return visit. Just driving up Magnolia, memories came rushing back. Good food memories. And the place hasn't changed. Not one bit.
|Monte Carlo Interior - pastas, cheeses, olive oils, Stella D'oro|
|I don't even like these things but they look so right|
|Cheese, Meat, Love|
|San Marzano Tomatoes EVERYWHERE|
|Even The Mr. Coffee looks imported|
|That's the Pope next to the Chianti. As God intended.|
There's nothing like your first, you know? And for me, my first foray into realizing I'd be happy in Los Angeles happened right here at this place in good ole' Burbank, U.S.A.. Maybe I'm not so much like Woody Allen. Or maybe there are many sides to me. Perhaps I'm also a little like his partner, the one who's driving his Rolls down Sunset with the roof off, snapping his fingers. He really looked happy, didn't he? I don't know. But if you ever find yourself in Burbank, swing on by. It might be just be the hit you're looking for. If not, NYC is just a plane ride away. And now there's a Rao's in Vegas.
Monte Carlo Italian Deli is located at 3103 West Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505. They're open 7 days a week. For information on hours of operation call 818-845-3516.