Not really. We only went 15 miles from home (but still “away”).
It was spur of the moment. The household chores had been completed, and we just felt like taking a drive.
Chestnut Ridge Park is only a 30-40 minute drive, and the route we took avoided most of the holiday traffic. We hadn’t been there in years, and it brought back memories. Back in the day when Driver’s Ed was required in high school, I learned to drive in the Park – all those dark, tree-lined, winding roads with no shoulders! The boys would all drive too fast, with the teacher telling them to slow down already, and the girls would all drive too slow, with the teaching telling them they could go more than 5 mph already.
During the dating years and early years of marriage, hubby and I would go to the Park often; sometimes we would take my dog, Sherman – and lord knows that dog loved all those trees! After the kids arrived, we would have picnics there and let the kids run and play.
The kids loved the old water wells – at that time the pumps had handles and the kids could wear themselves out pumping water from deep within the ground. I don’t know why the handles have been removed; perhaps for health reasons? I doubt anyone cares to incur the cost and time involved in testing that water every year.
Everyone loves that huge hill where the toboggan slide is:
From the top of that hill, you can view the City of Buffalo skyline:
(Not bad for a photo taken from 15 miles away. That 35X zoom does well.)
We had left late in the day so didn’t spend a lot of time in the park. After leaving the toboggan hill, we drove around, took a few photos, and headed on our way. We hadn’t yet eaten dinner and wanted to find somewhere decent.
As we got back onto the road, a spur-of-the-moment decision was made to head into Blasdell. I grew up in Blasdell, we dated and lived in Blasdell during the early years, and knew just the place to go – Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant.
Many, many years ago, Ilio DiPaolo retired from wrestling and decided to go into the restaurant business. At that time, it was a basic Italian-American restaurant, and Ilio himself greeted every customer. I remember going there for our first wedding anniversary. When Ilio learned of the occasion, he stated, “I will give you my best table!” and personally escorted us to the table placed under the huge picture of him in his wrestling days – right in the middle of the restaurant.
Although Ilio is no longer with us and the restaurant has become a bit more upscale over the years, the atmosphere and congeniality remain. We arrived on a Saturday without reservations and in our go-to-the-park attire, but were welcomed as if we were family. The hostess informed us it would be a 15-20 minute wait, but then advised if we wanted seating immediately, there were tables available either in the lounge or the patio.
Initially, we opted for the lounge – but it had those really high bar stools and I had trouble boosting myself up and then was uncomfortable. Bless the hostess’ heart, she barely blinked an eye when we picked up our menus and asked if we could eat in the patio instead.
That turned out to be the best decision ever! The patio has been added within the last couple of years and is between two buildings, with an alleyway entry from the street. It’s like a European bistro (not that I’ve ever been in Europe, nor ever will be, but the atmosphere was definitely there).
We found the wrestling-themed holder amusing:
And the food was to die for – delicious, hot, abundant, and served promptly by an extremely nice young lady who obviously enjoys her job and raved about her employer. In fact, all the staff seemed to be enjoying themselves, which is always a good sign – you certainly wouldn’t want to eat at a place where everyone is miserable and stressed out.
Since it seems you can no longer visit a restaurant without posting photos of your food, here they are (one serving of lasagna and one of lobster ravioli):
When desert arrived (mango cheesecake and vanilla bean cheesecake), I was too distracted to take photos.
And then there was a little surprise.
Upon arriving, we had mentioned to the hostess that we chose the restaurant because we were celebrating the 40th anniversary of our first date and 38th anniversary of our marriage. (We had been unable to go out sooner because of my car accident.)
At the end of the meal, the waitress brought us this, compliments of the house:
Perfect way to end a wonderful day!
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Images by Cordelia’s Mom/TeddyRosalie Studio