Monday, January 5, 2009

Five Roses

2009 will never see Five Roses Pizza. My first job was there, I was 13 and they paid me five dollars in cash per hour, plus tips. From what the final owner, Cristina, told me recently, not much involving pay roll has changed. This may explain why she was always the only one behind the counter the last few years with the occasional circulating delivery boy.

If you've never worked in a pizzeria let me tell you the pro and con: You can make a pie however it is you best like it, more sauce/more cheese, and eat a slice fresh. You go home with the greasy smell of pizza clogging every pour. Which is the pro and which is the con??

Even though my time there was relatively brief in comparison to other jobs I remember it very vividly. The aprons, the texture of the dough, electrocuting myself on the stove, learning not to drink milk with pizza, a fifth when Josephine pointed out I shouldn't touch my eyes and hair in front of customers before serving them food. Thanks, now I'm totally self-conscious.

Aside from extorting child labor Five Roses was a meeting place for neighborhoodites. You always bumped into everyone you knew there, family and friends. I remember blushingly trying to cut a pie before the inquisitive eyes of my first serious crush. All their food was from authentic Sicilian recipes, made in the kitchen in the back by an authentic Sicilian. They didn't buy stuff frozen or belong to chain. It was a truly local establishment.

The East Village from ten years ago is so completely changed that when I walk there now it's almost unrecognizable and it'll be different in another ten years. It's weird how shocked and saddened I was to turn the corner and see it had changed in a way I'd never prepared for- Five Roses is closed. The gates are shuttered, the space is for rent, there are poster boards of photos and farewell wishes in the windows. If only I'd known and savored that last slice. Had one last surprise party (I've had like three surprise parties thrown there for me and was surprised every time because I'm an idiot) or at least said goodbye to childhood...something.

But that's kind of how it is. You don't always get to say goodbye.

Five Roses, I love you.

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