Jim Santel is a junior English major from St. Louis. He recently transferred from The University of Chicago. Looking to find his muse, he told us he’s typically drawn to “hipsters, but warmth and intelligence go a very long way.” (Ed. Note: A blind date wouldn’t be complete without a little cheese.) Mady Glickman is a junior English major, Tabard and VagMons star. This self–described “girl next door with a high level of sass” is looking for a man to share her life with who’s actually straight (she’s struck out with the gays). We asked them to give us the lowdown on the scene, the food and, of course, the date.
Jim Santel: Mady was fashionably late meeting me at the Button, and she definitely scored some early points by suggesting that we walk instead of take a cab, since it was such a nice night. She was really energetic and gave me a huge hug, a really unpretentious opening that put me at ease. She has a great sense of style that was adventurous but not ridiculous, and her energy was infectious. I often feel a bit crowded by high–energy people, but I was so comfortable with her that I was able to just let go and enjoy the evening.
Mady Glickman: My first impression of him was definitely positive. He dressed up a bit for the date, which was cute. He wore khakis, a blue plaid button–down shirt, and a blazer — a nice break from the usual graphic tee or polo that most guys sport on campus.
J.S.: The first thing I noticed about Il Portico was how hushed it was; it sounded like Fisher Fine Arts in there. Very dim lighting, really tacky chandeliers, wood paneling: this was definitely an old–guard type of Italian restaurant. In a way, this made the date more fun, kind of like the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where they go to the really stuffy restaurant. Il Portico seemed like a place my grandparents would go for their wedding anniversary. Probably not where I would go on a first date, much less a fifth date. Maybe rent it out for your wedding rehearsal dinner?
M.G.: The restaurant looked like the dining room of a cruise ship. It had white tablecloths and lots of old people. It was very quiet, which was slightly awkward.
J.S.: We both started with Prosciutto with Melon ($12.95), which was perfectly adequate. The prosciutto didn’t seem to be the freshest, and the accompanying salad was so drenched in balsamic vinegar that my eyes started watering. I had the Pappardelle with Rabbit ($21.95), which was quite good. It wasn’t too rich, and the portion was filling, but not oppressively so. That’s one of my favorite Italian dishes and Il Portico’s was really nicely flavored. They cooked the rabbit perfectly, so that it lost its toughness but not its flavor.
M.G.: For my entree I ordered the Cacciucco ($26.95). It was a melange of seafood and vegetables in a tomato–based broth. It had swordfish, red snapper, clams, mussels, shrimp, broccoli and yellow zuchinni. It was flavorful, but not too overwhelming. I had a glass of classic Pinot Grigio wine ($10) to complement my seafood.
J.S.: I was really pleased with the conversation. We’re both English majors, so that helped us get started. And Mady has some Detroit roots, so I didn’t feel like I had to explain my Midwestern ways the way I often do with Penn girls. By the end of the night, our conversation was totally natural; we found out that we both had grandfathers who had served in the Navy in World War II, cool stuff like that. Even when we talked about heavier things like politics (we did), it never stopped being fun.
M.G.: The conversation flowed easily. We had a lot to talk about, especially once we figured out that we had many mutual friends. He is extremely well–read, so it was a pleasure to talk about our favorite books, columnists and magazines. After dinner, we went for drinks nearby to continue talking. We launched into a long discussion of politics.
J.S.: I might go back, yes… when I’m 65. But seriously, I have no major complaints about Il Portico; they took good care of us. I simply think its atmosphere is far stuffier and more traditional than anything Penn kids would be drawn to.
M.G.: I would go back as long as I wasn’t paying. It is pretty expensive for standard Italian food. So, I would wait to go with my parents or some (Wharton) guy who will be able to handle the bill.
WE MEANT THE DATE…
J.S.: I would absolutely go on another date with Mady. We had a lot in common, and she was very smart and wonderfully lively. But I would probably want to go to a place where most of the diners aren’t eligible for Medicare. We had a drink at Butcher and Singer after dinner, which was an interesting counterpoint to Il Portico; it was easier to breathe there.
M.G.: For sure! He’s a blonde stunner with cool glasses and Midwestern charm. What aa catch!