Usually on Friday night, we’re happy to be tucked in at home, scrolling through Netflix for something light to watch to cap off the week.

However, last Friday was Jennifer Lynn’s last night home from college before going back for spring semester so doing something more special than watch me nod off on the couch was in order. We wanted to go out for dinner but where to go? We wanted cozy with dependably great food and service… Cucina Paradiso it is!

When we arrived for our 6:30 reservation, it was almost a little shocking to step inside the restaurant and feel the energy level. As Steve said, the joint was jumping. Date night couples waiting to be seated, full tables of families, diners eating at the bar, wine bottles being passed around. I realized how much I had forgotten that not everyone is in bed by 9:00pm. “Oh that’s right! People actually go out and enjoy themselves on Friday nights!”

We are especially fond of Cucina because we had the opportunity to work with owners, Dennis and Malena more than a decade ago. As I recall, they were our first clients when we started our own marketing business. So it was hugs all around when Malena greeted us; we compared notes on the ages of our kids and introduced them to our youngest who is now 18. We commiserated with Malena on how quickly they grow up.

Throughout our meal, we commented on what an art it is to run a successful restaurant. When it works on all levels like it does at Cucina – the décor, wait staff, food, and price – that makes for a memorable experience. It’s no wonder that it was standing room only at the hostess station for people waiting to be seated.

The food was absolutely wonderful. Jennifer who is adventurous in all aspects of her life including food said that her Duck Ravioli was delicious. For me, I kept wondering why the roast chicken that comes from Cucina’s kitchen tastes so much better than mine? I suppose it’s the difference between someone cooking who really understands food and knows how to bring out the best flavor. My goals in cooking are more along the lines of not having anyone die.

We talked, laughed, savored every bite and in-between chatted with our daughter’s favorite teacher from elementary school who we hadn’t seen in years but happened to be there celebrating her birthday.

After we had licked our plates clean, we ordered desserts to split; Semifreddo  and a Pear and Spongecake Terrine. I know it was a really special night because Steve capped off his meal with Drambuie on the rocks. The last time he did that might have been on our honeymoon.

Everything came together that night to create an experience that leaves a lasting warm glow. For us, it was a Big Night.