A lifetime ago I did a lot of business in Delaware and as a result became quite familiar with the dining options in and around Wilmington. Now I admit that one does not usually think of Wilmington, Delaware as one of the great culinary capitals of the world, but there was (and I guess still is) a sizable Italian population that caused a sort little Italy to form; and along with it a number of memorable restaurants. One of these was called Mrs. Rubinos. It was a tiny little place that looked like it was built into the first floor of a 1930s era apartment building. They didn't take reservations or credit cards. There was no parking lot or valet. In fact, it wasnt even all that easy to find, but there always seemed to be at least an hours wait (and nobody seemed to mind). What made the place special was that despite the simplicity of the menu, every meal always seemed to produce a magical aura of satiated contentment that surrounded diners as they consumed that last bite of their meal. The particular item on the menu that did it for me was perhaps their simplest, homemade spaghetti and marinara sauce. Although I must admit much of the greatness of the meal could be contributed to the pasta itself, prefect in texture and flavor and cooked to a firmness that was just slightly softer than al dente, it was the sauce that still lives in my dreams and compels me to occasionally check east bound airfares. Without any conscious knowledge it seemed obvious that someone with love in their heart started simmering this delight many, many hours ago. It had simmered to the point that there was almost no extra water. Ive heard Italian friends call it gravy. Perhaps the term was more accurate than sauce. Despite warnings that the recipe was a closely guarded secret I remember boldly inquiring once about the ingredients. I had to know what gave the sauce its special something. I was told with grin that what I tasted was, among other things, peppers, anchovies and a whole lot of time (not thyme). Its been years since my last meal there, but I've found nothing since that compares.
So how does all this apply here? Im looking for a similar experience that doesnt involve a 737 and a rental car. Any suggestions?