July 15th, 2008

I wanted to begin this by saying “Mio Vicino is a neighborhood restaurant.” Then I realized that mio vicino means my neighbor in Italian, so I feel a bit foolish about using that as an introductory line now. Ah, yes, very good research, you would think, sarcastically, translating the name and using it as a description. Still, I can’t think of a better way to start. This is a tiny, tiny little place. Maybe there are 8 tables in it. Its surrounding area is completely residential. It is not near any major intersection, or any major street, for that matter. There is a middle school nearby and it is in the vicinity of Santa Clara University. It would be impossible to spot it out and wander in unless you were in the area and you would only be in this area if you or a friend lived nearby or taught at Buscher Middle School. I like the lack of pretension and, for lack of a better word, ambition of a place like this. Maybe that’s unfair; probably the owners had great ambition to make a comfortable local restaurant and in that they were totally successful. This is a good place for people to go when they don’t feel like cooking, but want to feel as comfortable as they would have been at home. And by comfortable I do not mean only that you can show up in your sweatpants. Applebee’s will always be available for that. I am talking about a simplicity of menu and a simplicity of atmosphere that match the simplicity of the location. Not to harp too hard on Applebee’s, but I like this kind of place as a contrast to the giant chain that claims to be everything Mio Vicino is, but loses its ability through homogenization and mass production. However, if that’s what you prefer, our Applebee’s can be found at the intersection of the giant freeway and the largest street that runs through Santa Clara, right where everyone can find it.

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