Gaetano´s in Forest Park is one of 600 restaurants in the world to have been acknowledged with the “Ospitalita Italiana” award for having an “Authentic” Italian restaurant. Consider México Vivo for your own serenata, call (312) 510-6011.
I really miss serenatas. I especially miss how my friends celebrated their mothers on Mother’s Day. They would pitch in to pay a mariachi to accompany them while they criss-crossed our neighborhood singing. The young troubadours would flag down a mariachi band nearby, and would then go door to door singing for each other’s moms. I miss hearing birthday serenatas, engagement ones, or those that happened just because. The Doppler effect of a mariachi in the distance is a cultural vignette that I am sure I share only with a lucky few.
Although mariachi is often portrayed as “comical” in many movies, in reality, mariachi music is an important part of our celebrations. From festive to solemn and romantic, these bands are a staple of events of any size. Pretty much any mariachi band holds a repertoire that touches on anything and everything that is sacred to us, except for fútbol. Playlists are learned as part of an unspoken social etiquette of sorts. Mariachi trumpets, regardless of the quality of their sound, have the uncanny ability to make me cry.
Knowing this, and wanting to distract me from my doomed battle against gravitational pull, my wonderful, wonderful husband hired a mariachi for my birthday. OK, he asked me to hire one, and to negotiate with them in Spanish for a really good rate. I know it sounds funny, but mariachi bands or at the very least tríos románticos are quite ubiquitous in Mexico. You just call them or flag them down. I didn´t realize what a luxury that was until I tried to find one in Chicago that did not require a notice way in advance and a formal contract.
I finally landed one. How to go wrong with a mariachi named “México Vivo”? We agreed that we would meet at my favorite place. Wait. My husband reminded me that we had to make sure the venue I had chosen was OK with the idea. My favorite restaurant, Gaetano’s in Forest Park, is a culinary heaven that sits only 60. There were 12 elements in the band alone. Plus, If the name has not given it away, Gaetano’s is an Italian restaurant. It would have been difficult to make an argument for the band being representative of Italian folklore.
Enrico called Chef Gaetano DIBenedetto, the talented and gracious owner of this gem to share with him our plan. Gaetano welcomed us mariachi and all. The food was magnificent, as usual. And the mariachi did not disappoint!