Mr. Padolecchia, "who says he is the last living relative of Marco Polo," visits my neighborhood tonight. The Times covers it in a way that makes red-sauce joints sound... interesting.
Inspired by a celebration of Marco Polo in Venice, [Mr. Chirico] decided to name a restaurant he was opening for him. He envisioned it as an elegant tablecloth establishment serving authentic Northern and Southern Italian dishes.
The restaurant, which Mr. Chirico built from scratch with a mix of light-colored stone and dark brick, struggled in the beginning, but now it is something of an institution among the neighborhood's longstanding Italian-American population.
In the evenings, especially on the weekends, patrons dress up and drop their cars with the valets outside. Upstairs, Mr. Chirico has a banquet room with a stained glass inset in the ceiling that has been the setting for everything from a meeting of the Italian Teachers Federation to an elaborate party held by a couple in a rocky marriage (they split up).