All of us here at the VICC Project have visited an Italian place in Garland since dinosaurs roamed the earth. OK, maybe not quite that long, but definitely our entire lives. Since opening in 1981, we’ve watched Siciliano’s, A Taste of Italy grow from a small, dimly lit room in a shopping center into a large, airy restaurant in its own freestanding building.

Siciliano's, A Taste of Italy's Baked ZitiA favorite, even when all of us ate meat, was the angel hair with artichokes. That fell off the menu at some point along the way so we tried other dishes, like eggplant parm (best we’d had), baked ziti (great if you like ricotta, still very good if you don’t), and plain old spaghetti with tomato sauce (also delightful). Over the years we’ve eaten our weight in Siciliano’s food many times over, so we aren’t exaggerating when we say we love this place.

When we recently noticed a new (to us) lunch menu and asked a waitress for a vegetarian recommendation, we were shocked when she offered a chicken dish we could just order without the chicken.

“Umm, thanks, but do you have anything that didn’t start with chicken?” we asked. “Are your sauces broth based?”

“Oh yes,” she said, “all of them are. Really the only thing you could get is the three cheese pizza. That doesn’t have sauce on it.”

GASP! “Nothing?”

“That’s really your only option. Sorry.”

It was like rhinos came charging in to pin us to the booth. We’ve eaten here our entire lives, some of us actually used the high chairs at the old location, and all we have left is pizza and rolls? So this is crushing disappointment. Now we know.

At that moment, when our hearts sank and we agreed to at least try that sauceless pizza, we felt as if an old friend, a very best friend, had died. How sad we were that we could never come back to this once wondrous place and have our fill of delicious, saucy pasta dishes. We’d never again feel the garlic butter drip off the rolls and down our forearms or chins. Nor would we laugh at each other as this happened. Our worlds got smaller.

Then it hit us. According to our waitress, we’ve been eating broth-based sauces the entire time we’ve tried to maintain vegetarian diets. Yikes! That stings! And why did we never ask about the sauces before? We ask every time we go someplace new, but we took for granted that this trusted food was meat free. That was not smart. A trip to Italy taught us that nearly everything starts with meat, then goes from there. But we are in the U.S. and we’ve loved this place forever, so it never crossed our minds to ask.

We were so stunned by this revelation that we didn’t even think to storm into the kitchen and question the chef. We’ll save that for next time. And, even with this newly found meat knowledge, there will be a next time. That’s how addicted we are and how good this place is! We can’t stop going even though the menu is reduced to one item. Two if you count the freshly baked rolls.

Siciliano's, A Taste of Italy's rollsHonestly, the rolls alone are worth the trip into Garland. Dripping with melted butter and always hot, straight from the oven, these are the standard to which we hold all other breads in Italian restaurants. So far, nobody has engineered a better garlic bread or roll and we all feel nobody ever will. But, as the saying goes, we cannot survive on bread alone.

Siciliaon's, A Taste of Italy's Three Cheese PizzaSo the pizza came. Yes, the crust, which is made in house, is bread, but the cheese and toppings come together to make yet another masterpiece from this restaurant. Pick your favorite three toppings and you have your individual perfect pizza. At $8.99 for a small, it’s a little pricy for one, but there is enough to share. Just find a friend who likes what you like.

After thinking about this for a while, we almost wish we hadn’t asked. Sure, we’re glad to be aware of what we’re putting into our bodies, but the general ability to just enjoy something and not care whence it comes is becoming a little more clear to us now. Of course, the omnivores among us have no problem, and the strict vegetarian is limited to the (amazing) pizza, but for those who don’t mind a little broth in the sauce, this is still a great place to eat.

The most shocking part of this whole ordeal is our general lack of sense when it comes to places we already love. Lesson learned. Unless you’ve already asked, check the ingredients. We’ll probably check again in the hopes that maybe this particular waitress misinformed us, but the point is that we should never have just blindly followed the mouth-watering smells without question. For now, we’ll just have to accept that we’ll do better in the future.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.