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Monday, May 22, 2017

The "Did The Pope Really Eat Here!" Story

Al Dente Restaurant in St. Martin.
It was an ordinary day.  Raphael is visiting our table and telling a few animated tales.  Carol and I decided to try a new restaurant during our yearly visit to St. Martin and happened to find a new Italian cuisine restaurant on the French side of St. Martin.  Brightly lit place along a busy road that had a welcoming green, white and red sign that expressively yelled "Al Dente".  
Raphael talks with us at our table.
Pulled into the parking lot and for the next hour and a half we were both entertained as well as treated to a fine Italian meal.  As we entered we were met by Axel who showed us to a table and took our drink order.  Their Facebook page says they have close to 400 varieties of wine so I thought I should try a glass.  Shortly our drinks arrived and we ordered our meal of Lasagna for Carol and Veal Ravioli for me.  The restaurant was beginning to fill and I asked Axel if I could take a few photos.  Within minutes I had taken a variety of photographs showing the uniqueness of Al Dente.  In the center of the restaurant stands a tree.  Yep, a real tree that goes through the roof of the restaurant.  Close to the tree is a huge ceiling light made from clear wine bottles.  
Interior of the Al Dente Restaurant with tree protruding
from the center of the restaurant through the roof.
Close to that is another light that was made from copper air conditioner tubing that is formed into a sculpture that holds small lites.  On just about every square inch of wall space are photos of famous people, many consuming Italian food.  I asked Axel if all these people visited the restaurant at one time or another and as he gave me a big smile, said,"No!"  
One of many walls that displays primarily celebrities. 
Doesn't matter anyway since Carol and I had the best time trying to figure out who all the people may be.  Had two photos of President Obama as well as one of Sean Connery who played James Bond.  But, the item that drew the most entertainment was a large board on the wall that listed: Malattia (Disease), Vino (Wine) and Dose (How much to drink to cure the Malattia).  
Diseases or Malattia that require wine to correct them.
The amount of vino is shown on the right in doses.
The diseases were listed alphabeti- cally and included everything from Anemia to ....renza D'Affetto.  Last one I couldn't read since a large bottle of wine stood in front of it.  That happened to be the only malady that required you drink the entire bottle of wine. Well, I got back to our table in time for the arrival of our meal which we thoroughly enjoyed.  
The "wine room" holds a vast amount of wines from all
over the world.  Most can cure the diseases posted above.
That's when Raphael arrived to see if we were enjoying ourselves.  We began a conver- sation that covered everything from his family to where he buys his food products for his restaurant.  Raphael speaks four languages, but is very fluent in English, though French seems to be his language of choice since he has lived in French St. Martin since 1978.  
A beautiful light sculpture made from
house wine bottles at Al Dente.
Raphael opened his restaurant about two years ago and is pleased with the response he has gotten from both tourists to the island as well as local residents.  Easy to see that everyone who enters the door enjoys the wait staff at Al Dente.  Many "air" kisses as well as hugs are exchanged by all the wait staff that also includes Nini as well as Axel and Raphael.  The Al Dente chef, Tony (Naturally, what else could it be for an Italian restaurant) seems to be famous not only for his preparation, but also for his voice since I read a few remarks on online rating sites that tell of him singing for their table for special events.  Our evening was a huge success and one that will definitely be repeated on our next tour of travel to St. Martin.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



Another ceiling sculpture made from air conditioner brass tubing.
This was displayed inside the front door.  One of the few places we ate in on the French side of St. Martin that didn't allow smoking. 
Photo of the Pope appears on the wall.  Found out he didn't eat at Al Dente ... yet!
My meat ravioli with glass of house wine.
Carol's Lasagna which I also tried.  It was fabulous. 
Our Apple Cake Dessert.  Very sweet and served warm with ice cream.  Perfect way to end our meal. 

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