I’m going to take something of a calculated risk in this week’s installment of The Rundown by writing about something that I have absolutely no expertise and frankly, no business, writing about. Because we placed second in Blacksburg, Va. and because I still cannot bring myself to rehash what happened along the grassy knolls of that cross country course, I figured I’d be slightly unorthodox in my approach to talking about running.
So with that said, welcome to the short-lived (but perhaps illustrious?) food review column by yours truly, someone whose idea of fine dining is going through the process of toasting a brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tart and using a plate instead of just scarfing one down while rushing to practice.
I’ll start by saying that cross country trips are an excellent opportunity to try some of the great food establishments of college towns across the country. There’s something about the food around a college that hits a note with twenty-somethings. It may be the sense of danger that comes with seeing a sly cockroach scurry along the floor or, depending on if you go on a Saturday, the slight wafts of stale beer and questionably prepared wings, but you can always count on your plate being a grease trap of goodness.
Before I get into our foray into the culinary experience of Blacksburg, I must address a troubling food topic. Just because you run doesn’t mean you have to eat Olive Garden. In fact, I’d contend that if you run you should respect yourself enough to not put yourself in the position to eat your fourth breadstick that has the ability to turn its patrons into hopeless buttered bread junkies. There’s a reason Coach Braman calls the place Olive Garbage.
Ask a runner which meal is the most important before a race and they’ll most likely respond before you can finish your question with, “Carb loading the night before!” Fair enough. We went to a little Italian joint called Milano’s the night before our race, where the tables were set with the best plastic picnic tablecloths that money could buy, complete with the stickiness of the seediest Waffle House you can imagine. But the food surely overcame the fact that I felt that any moment a Little League baseball team would bust in hoisting up their hard-earned participation trophy and order a round of Mountain Dews.
I ordered the “Supreme Meat Calzone” and three pounds of meat, cheese, dough, and grease later, I can confidently say that it was the best calzone I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating like the Neanderthal I am. The ricotta and mozzarella were delectable and the bacon, sausage, and pepperoni stunned me with their freshness. The best way that I can put it is that the food tasted of hope, impending success, and triumph against adversity.
Now onto the somber meal that we had at Ceritano’s following the race. I imagine most have never heard of Ceritano’s, so I’ll explain. It’s basically a Little Caesars buffet of Italian food, whose biggest draw might be “Tina’s Meatballs”, which were lukewarm meatballs that some poor soul named Tina was hoodwinked into lending her name to. I personally piled everything I could on my plate just so I could give a fair assessment. The meatballs, as you could guess, were a letdown. The stuffed shells may have been the stars of the night as they were pleasantly filled with just the right amount of cheese and were cooked to al dente perfection. However, I must say, for an Italian restaurant, the few pizza slices that were available certainly did not make me feel like I was biting into a slice of the home country – or pizza at all. Overall, I think I can safely say that Ceritano’s tasted of bitter disappointment, untapped potential, and a feeling of not getting the job done.
Though I’m not sure if this is how food reviews work or if I even have the authority to pass such judgment, I give Milano’s 4 out of 5 stars and Ceritano’s a measly 2.5 out of 5 stars.
*Disclaimer: These reviews may have been contingent on the reviewer’s mood before and after the race at Virginia Tech.
Bryce Kelley, a graduate student in Integrated Marketing Communications, is a fifth-year Seminole from Hope Valley, R.I. A two-time All-ACC Academic selection in cross country with his undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, Kelley will be providing a weekly inside look at the FSU men’s team throughout the season.