Treated Like Spam – Tanino Restaurant

tanino restaurant, westwood, ca
Lately, there have been a lot of spam commenters on The Delicious Life. They leave comments that sort of sound like the spammer has read the post, but embedded in the text of the comment, there are links to totally un-related sites. I’m not sure where the spammers are on the planet, if they’re even human or just some brilliant piece of software written by a 9 year old programming prodigy in India. Most importantly, I have no idea what attracts them to The Delicious Life (other than my witty prose and stunning photography, of course *wink*). It cannot be the subject matter, because unless Alton Brown has crafted some secret Inspector Gadgetry for whipping egg whites with them, air purifiers have absolutely nothing to do with food.

Am I somehow unknowingly leaving myblogself wide open to spammers? Why are they targeting The Delicious Life? I must be using words in my writing that trigger some super-spam machine, but what exactly are these spam-bait words? I have only mentioned the actual word “spam” in a few posts and those aren’t even the ones that receive the wayward comments.

It’s not just spam comments on the blog. I know that spam email is not unusual, but I am quite certain that my delicious inbox is being flooded by an extraordinarily large number of spam emails.

Obviously spam is not harmful or dangerous, at least not the comments and emails that encourage me to buy cheap! Domestic! And international airline tickets! Spam is simply annoying. It unnecessarily gets my hopes up, then leaves me utterly disappointed. You see, as I live out my day doing what I normally do, I periodically get pop-up notifications that I have received email. I love receiving email because emails are like little reminders that I actually exist. I get excited because the email could be a notification from the matrix telling me that a lovely reader has left a comment on The Delicious Life. I love comments, so when I realize that the comment is from qgirl98 suggesting I try viagra, I am not only disappointed, I am annoyed. I had to waste my time and energy to read the spam in the first place and click to delete not only the email, but the spam on the blog as well. Yes, I put a lot on emails. I live for emails. Yes, I know I need to get a life.

My email program is fairly good at sequestering spam email from my regular email, binding and gagging it. Still, I have to go into that dirty, dank, spam-filled dungeon and delete them myself. Click. Click. Click. It is so utterly annoying. It makes me roll my eyes and shake my head. Ugh, filthy little spam. I heave a great sigh of burden and do the dirty work. Delete. Delete. Delete. What a f–king nuisance.

Because I have this theory that these super grand spam machines really are programmed to look for trigger words or phrases on my blog, I have decided to do a little experiment which will eventually lead me to a solution. I am leaving this post wide open to spammers with all kinds of spam bait embedded in my text. Hopefully, my bait will show up as big bright neon blips on their spam sonar, and they will make spam comments all over this post with their sneaky little links embedded in their text. It sounds like a sacrifice all in the name of blogging science, but really, I don’t care if they make spam comments on this post because it’s about Tanino Ristorante Bar.

tanino ristorante bar, westwood, ca
feels different from the restwood of westwood

Tanino is an Italian restaurant in Westwood Village. Though Westwood Village is oft-associated with the hooded sweatshirt-clad, backpack-bearing UCLA campus crowd that stands in line at the little yellow shack for $2.50 tacos and snkaing around the corner for $1 ice cream sandwiches at Diddy Riese, in recent years, many “nicer” sit-down restaurants have opened to join the somewhat older Gardens on Glendon and Moustache Cafe: Eurochow, Napa Valley Grille, Palomino, and Tengu. I suspect these restaurants cater to the slightly-older money, old-school people who live in the residential aeras around the Village. I have no idea how they do about drawing people to crowded, chaotic traffic, parking-scarce Westwood from further away.

Tanino is very pretty on the outside, with washed antique yellow paint, sidewalk seating, and potted plants separating it from the college-world. When I was working in Westwood, I always wanted to try it, but only got there after I left my job there. Go figger.

The awning-covered sidewalk seating on either side of the front door already had a few people as we approached. After we walked through the door, we stood waiting at the empty host’s stand for almost five minutes without any acknowledgment. I understand that during semi-slow times it’s a waste of time for a host to simply stand there doing nothing if people are only sporadically walking through the front door. The host could chat with guests around the dining room or help out the operations staff. However, though various staff were walking about the restaurant, no one came to the front to greet us. Five minutes is not a long time, but when you’re watching everyone else in the restaurant digging into their pasta and gulping down giant goblets of wine, five minutes feels like an hour.

The brief/extended time, though, afforded me the opportunity to admire the restaurant’s space and decor. The inside space is divided into two rooms side by side. The architecture is lofty, almost majestic, with tall marble columns and arches supporting high ceilings, bright windows to the front, and what made it feel like we were in the foyer of an Italian mansion, a broadly curved staircase leading to a second floor, which I found out later is a private dining room. Though marble decor often “feels” cold, antique yellow, almost rusty, color scheme and dark wood made the atmosphere feel warm. The only thing that seemed slightly out of place was the black and white checkerboard marble floor that reminded me a bit of a diner. Nonetheless, for its location slapped in the midst of college chaos, Tanino has done a good job of removing itself from the campus-feel into a classy and elegant interior.

I am not young, but I am blessed with an ethnic and genetic background that makes me look, when done right, much younger than I am. Most of the time, this is a blessing, but every once in a while, it is a curse. I can’t help but think that when the maitre d’ finally realized we were waiting and came up to the front, he thought I was a bratty UCLA kid playing in my older sister’s clothes. He looked me up and down, heaved a noticeable sigh as he looked over his shoulder to scan the room, then simply started walking with two menus toward a table in the back next to the kitchen door. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he rolled had rolled his eyes without my noticing.

We followed him, though he hadn’t yet spoken a word to us. Though I don’t know Italian, I’m pretty sure that I look and speak like I can understand English. I couldn’t tell if we were troubling him because he was in the midst of doing something else, or if I just didn’t look right for the restaurant even though I’m pretty sure that corporate business casual wasn’t inappropri
ate. The dining room was only half-full, a very non-college crowd. Most of the guests were a bit older, and perhaps that is why we were out of place.

tanino ristorante bar, westwood, ca - bread
holes that put on airs

Our server looked like he could have been Mario Batali’s brother, bigger, taller, older with salt and pepper hair pulled back into a ponytail. He, whom I shall name Vittorio, looked and sounded jovial enough (just like a Batali!) when I saw him interacting with diners around us for a long time before finlly getting to us. Certainly he may have built a rapport with the diners over the course of their meal, or perhaps they were friends, but when he finally decided to acknowledge us, his demeanor completely changed. While I didn’t expect him to throw his enormous arms that looked like they could have been hanging as giant salumi around me in welcome, I thought he would at least smile. No smile as he dropped of a small bowl of bread. Nothing through the course of our meal. Vittorio never checked to see how we were doing, unless we flagged him down, and that was only after he attended to what felt like a billion other customers in this half-empty restaurant.

Was I being sensitive? I leaned across the table and whispered, “Do you get the feeling we’re not welcome here?” No, I wasn’t being sensitive. I almost wanted to get up and leave, but we didn’t.

tanino ristorante bar, westwood, ca - anchovies on caesar salad
anchovies that dared me to disrupt

The bread on the table was delicious – a chewy crust, a crumb riddled with enormous holes. However, I couldn’t help but taste the tiniest bit of airy condescenion in each bite. Delicately pale hearts of Romaine had been chopped, dressed, and mounded gloriously high as a Caesar salad, but somehow, there was disdain in it. The glittering silver anchovies that lay across the leaves, lazy in their fattened lethargy, almost glared at me, daring me to disrupt them. The flesh could have been sweet, but the salty acid that made me pucker also made me think of our tight-lipped host and server.

It was the first time I had ever seen meatballs served atop risotto. I love the idea. I love the way it looks. Tanino’s risotto was creamy enough, but I sensed no warmth or care in it – simply the mechanics of preparing it well. Meatballs in red sauce mean everything about a welcoming home kitchen to me, but that’s not what I tasted. They were dense with meat, seasoned with herbs, but that’s all I could taste.

The food wasn’t bad, but it is always to difficult for me to enjoy the food when the servce that has brought it to me makes me lose my appetite. I had felt wholly unwelcome by a somewhat condescending host when we walked in the front door. It seemed our server was terribly troubled by our dining there. We were a nuisance to Tanino. We were annoying. They couldn’t wait to get rid of us.

They treated us like…spam.

Spammers usually don’t come back once they’ve been deleted a hundred times. I like to think of myself slightly better than spam, a corned beef hash at least, but being treated like spam, I’ve learned to take my business elsewhere.

Tanino Risotrante Bar
1043 Westwood Boulevard (between Weyburn and Broxton)
Los Angeles, CA 90024

310.208.0444
www.tanino.com

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