A.C. stepped away from the table momentarily, and I admired the rustic walls with their glowing lamps and framed photographs of Venetian scenes. A blissful smile spread over my face, and the American couple at the neighboring table took my expression as a sign that I was open for conversation with people I did not know. They admitted they were Southern, and the blonde-haired woman asked me if my husband was Southern too. As a proud Northerner, I was perplexed by the question and provided her with "no, he's not" as an answer. My best friend returned, and the pizza arrived after a few meaningless minutes of chatter with the nearby strangers. The dark-haired man and his wife allowed us to enjoy our dinner undisturbed, and we focused our private conversation on the pleasantries of our current city.
∾The following night, A.C. and I were led up to the second floor of the establishment. The ceiling was modernly flat, and the interior was painted contemporary shades of white, tan, and purple. Small chandeliers hung from above, and beige, silk shades decorated the tops of the open windows. Framed, Venetian-themed photographs were suspended by strips of satin mounted to fixtures at the tops of the walls.
I missed the warm wooden and brick surroundings of the level below, but the superior food, delicious wine, and humorous waiter made up for the new setting. I spotted Zac Efron - light brown hair and blue eyes - serving food across the room. A.C. assured me that Zac Efron did not moonlight as a waiter. And besides, if he did work here, maybe he was trying to escape the paparazzi and did not want anyone to know.
At the conclusion of our second night at Taverna, we headed toward the steps that descended to the exit on the ground floor. The painting at the top of the steps tilted in my direction as I drew near. My eyes widened, and laughter from the joyous wait staff erupted. The falling frame was the signature trick of the restaurant and was played on dinners who ordered too much wine and thought Zac Efron was hiding in Venezia.