Villa Maria of years gone by remembered by many

The Jewish News
Danny Raskin

Danny Raskin

The robust sparkling Italian red vinos are sad … Their master that once stood with beautiful grace can cry no more … The former beautiful pink Villa Maria Italian restaurant that opened over 21 years ago still stands ever so quiet, lonely and empty on the southeast corner of Haggerty and Maple (15 Mile).
The ground around it is covered with weeds, rubble and broken glass, etc., upon which the former once-proud Italian restaurant now stands with only the ghosts of time to keep it company.
Its late owner Al Valente, as were many restaurant owners in primarily Jewish sectors, was conscious of the major Jewish holidays … Al was aware that he, too, had to bite the bullet although enough non-Jews knew of its wonderful food and wine to keep his Villa Maria going … And the crowded Yom Kippur night attendees would many times make up for some of their absences. … Much like previous tenants before Villa Maria … Maple Gardens, Haggerty Harry’s and Doc Frock’s.
Al and wife Joyce completely gutted their new home away from home and replaced many of the walls from top to bottom with old pictures of Valente family members and artifacts. … And made certain to have an outstanding stock of fine Italian wines … and pictures also of when Al was in the record business as head of national promotions for Motown Records.
How clean was Villa Maria then? … How about the Oakland County Health Department holding its holiday party there?
THE PRESENT LOCATION of Pepino’s restaurant now on Orchard Lake Road, Sylvan Lake, has answered a lot of questions for many about opening again … And if so, where? … And maybe a smaller temporary place?
The new Sylvan Lake site is definitely not a temporary location … and certainly much larger than before.
We were there on a recent Tuesday evening when son Scott and granddaughter Hannah Berglund, both visiting here, had again wisely selected Pepino’s for her birthday.
Customers filled every nook and corner … almost twice the size of its former Walled Lake site!
Little doubt, too, that their third partner at Pepino’s, Dr. Chris Hutchinson, is mighty proud of his mother-in-law, Kathy Morley, and aunt Carol Carson … But now the Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital Emergency Room doc and former University of Michigan football All-American also has a second pride … His son, 6-foot-6, 255-lb. Aidan, defensive end senior on the Divine Child Dearborn Falcon’s gridiron squad, is committed to Michigan as of 2018.
OLDIE BUT GOODIE … Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home wishing something wonderful would change his life when he passed a pet store and heard a squawking voice shouting in Yiddish.
Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. He couldn’t believe it. The proprietor springs out the door and grabs Meyer by the sleeve. “Come in here, fella, and check out this parrot.”
Meyer stands in front of an African Grey that cocked his little head and says, “Vus? Du kent reddin Yiddish?”
Meyer excitedly puts $500 down on the counter and carries the parrot in his cage away with him.
All night he talks with the parrot in Yiddish. The parrot wants to learn to daven, too, so Meyer teaches him how to read Hebrew and every prayer in the siddur. Finally, both went to sleep.
On the morning of Rosh Hashanah, Meyer rose, got dressed and was leaving when the parrot asked to go with him. Meyer explained that the synagogue was no place for a bird, but the parrot made a terrific argument and was carried to the synagogue on Meyer’s shoulder. They made quite a sight and Meyer was questioned by everyone, including the rabbi and cantor, who refused to allow a bird on the High Holidays. Meyer convinced them to let him in this one time, swearing that the parrot could daven.
Wagers were made with Meyer. Thousands of dollars were bet that the parrot could not daven or speak Yiddish or Hebrew, etc. All eyes were on the African Grey during services. The parrot perched on Meyer’s shoulder as one prayer and song passed. Meyer heard not a peep from the bird. He began to become annoyed, slapping his shoulder and mumbling under his breath, “Daven!” Nothing. “Daven, please! Everybody is looking at you!” Nothing.
After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer owed his synagogue buddies and the rabbi more than $5,000. He marched home quite upset, the bird, happy as a lark, began to sing an old Yiddish song.
Meyer stopped and looked at him. “You miserable bird, you cost me over $5,000. Why? After all I taught you and after you begged me to bring you to the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, why did you do this to me?”
“Don’t be a schlemiel,” the parrot replied. “You know the odds we’ll get for Yom Kippur?!”
CONGRATS … To Mark Zarkin on his birthday … To Wendy Flusty on her birthday. •

Danny’s email address is dannyraskin2132@gmail.com.

  • No comments