Who is this happy man?
Why, Italo Assogna, that’s who. No, he doesn’t play cornet with the Pescara Hot Stompers, but he loves jazz with all his heart.
How did we meet him?
Italo is the manager of Pino’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant on the High Street of Lechlade in Gloucestershire, GL7 3AD, where the Beloved and I had lunch today. I know this isn’t a food blog or a restaurant blog, but we had what Louis would call a truly dee-licious meal there. And we met Italo’s charming fiancee, Maria, as well.
Italo loves jazz. I knew this when I went inside the restaurant and heard a strangely familiar sound coming through the speakers — the closing instrumental choruses of PRETTY LITTLE MISSY by Signore Armstrong, followed by HAVE YOU MET MISS JONES? by the same person. I found out that Italo had chosen the music, and we had a long chat about what kinds of jazz would be best for a restaurant (I suggested Ben Webster with strings, followed by Clifford Brown with strings; the Beloved suggested Paul Desmond; I thought of Hank Jones and Jimmy Rowles).
But Italo and Maria were two of the most enthusiastic and charming people we have met on our UK trip, and I think they would stand out anywhere as wonderful individuals. We will remember them — and the extraordinary food — long after we are back in New York. And Italo loves jazz!