Jul 11, 2011

Day Hike in Caldera and then indigestion @ Papa Ricco's

A friend and I took a short day trip to Portrerillos and Caldera.  Ever since making that lost jaunt through the Caldera countryside several months ago,  I get frequent urges to go back, sit on the rocks, decompress, and contemplate.  That's how the day started out , and the photos below can illustrate the zen-like mood I had melded into by the time we headed back to Alto Boquete. 

By the time we got back into town, both of us were hungry and my friend was craving pizza.  So we stopped off at Papa Ricco's, close to my house.   Ricco was in rare form today and turned what should have been a pleasant dining experience into a gut wrenching, ulcer clutching, final patronage visit. 

The two of us arrived cheerful, mellow, friendly and chatty. The owner glared back at us from his kitchen. He asked a few unrelated questions about my friend's property, which was up for sale.  Unlike most pizza places, there were no hot pizzas in the oven, and no sliced pizza for purchase by in the warming racks.   My friend ordered pizza to go to take to her family, and we both ordered lasagna  served at the restaurant to whet our hearty appetites while the pizza baked.  We waited for a long time, and finished our sodas without sight of the pasta meals, nor salad or bread.  We were both beginning to tap our feet and wonder how much longer the food would take.  Finally, at my friend's urging, I got up and walked back to the order area to timidly ask precisely that.   Instead of a reassuring answer, I got a very aggressive, unpleasant, screaming, and inappropriate tirade from  the cook.   I was so upset and felt so put-down by some of his remarks that I actually wanted to leave immediately, without the meals we ordered.  My friend, having not heard his tirade from the next room, wanted to stay and get the pizza she ordered to go.  We stayed, but I did let Ricco know when he brought the food, that I felt his attitude & behavior were inconsistent with the situtation that prompted it, and that he made me feel upset enough to want to leave.  I spoke softly, but he again screamed at me,  this time with others present,   "Well just leave, then,  I don't give a damn!"    I stood up to go, but then considered my friend might get stuck with the entire bill.  I fought the urge and calmly repeated to him that asking how much longer the dish required to cook was not justification for being given sarcastic remarks about ""Shut up or eat it cold" nor being told he didn't give a damn if we stayed or left.  He eventually apologized, and I remained for my friend's benefit. The lasagna was overcooked and dry, and so were the garlic rolls.   I don't know if I will ever return.    Ricco is Boquete's  version of the  "Soup Nazi" characterized in Seinfeld.    If the food were good enough, as Seinfeld portrays with the show's character,  it might be different.  But in my mind it isn't the case and Ricco's cooking doesn't cancel out his caustic nature .  I've heard other people relate similar experiences with Ricco, but this was a first for me.  I wish him well with his temper.  Whew!    Go forewarned and speak at your own risk!