Keep on the Sonny side

Photo by David Robert

Last week, the RN&R ran a story in which the writer, Brad Bynum, intimated that new family-style Italian eatery Papa Joe’s might possibly be owned by the Mob, though he retreated from this claim in the end, suggesting that the restaurant is merely a wholesome mom ‘n’ pop joint that masquerades as a Mafia front. I think that the average Nevadan would jump at the chance to eat somewhere it’s easy to pretend that your ravioli is prepared by Jimmy Hoffa’s nephew. At least, I think it’d be fun.

That’s not what you get at Sonny’s, a new “mostly-we-have-pizza, but-we-have-some-pasta-too” place at the corner of Longley Lane and South Virginia Street. Driving there on a recent Saturday evening, I realized I’d forgotten to bring the address. I remembered that Sonny’s was somewhere on South Virginia, but was not sure if it’s the part of South Virginia that looks like Wells Avenue or the part of South Virginia that looks like suburban San Jose. Will and I headed for the yuppie part, and a quick call to Sonny’s confirmed that it was in Little San Jose.

Sonny’s turned out to be small and very, very white. The tablecloths were white and the curtains were white and the only diners there, a small group of women, were white. A smiling blonde waitress and dark-haired waiter informed us we could sit where we liked, so we chose a table in the corner.

The friendly waitress asked us how we heard of the place.

“An ad in the News and Review,” I replied.

She responded that we were among several whose visit to Sonny’s that day was prompted by the ad.

Will and I surveyed the menus. We were in the mood for pasta, not pizza, though it’s the latter that got the lion’s share of menu space. I ordered the tortellini in cream pesto sauce ($11.95), and Will ordered spaghetti ($10.50). “There’s no meat in the tortellini, right?” I asked our waiter, who looked more like an out-of-work actor trying to make ends meet than an in-work Mafioso.

He said no, he didn’t think so. After I looked at him skeptically, he disappeared into the kitchen. He came back with the pronouncement that the tortellini was filled with cheese.

We also ordered salads: I had the sliced tomato ($4.25) and Will got the mixed green ($3.99). Mine came out sprinkled with brown crunchy stuff that looked suspiciously like bacon bits. When I asked him what this stuff on my salad was, he disappeared into the kitchen once again. The verdict: garlic.

When the pasta arrived, the presence of so many pudgy little round things smothered in green sauce overwhelmed me. After a couple bites, I got used to the richness and saw the remaining tortellinis as a very achievable enterprise, one which I undertook slowly and with relish. Will appeared perfectly happy with his spaghetti.

Since by this time the customer/staff ratio was 2-2, our waitress seemed happy to talk. She told us about a girls’ softball team who played game after game that day without a break.

“They were going to come in and have pizza,” she said. “They’re all at home in bed.”

“Ahh," said Will and I. After that, I knew it was no use imagining I was eating at a place owned by, as Brad put it, The Family. But the pasta was so rich and yummy that I didn’t care anymore.