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The Stage

In this restaurant it feels like being in New York

Hello, I’m Paolo, and I fell in love at The Stage. You feel like you’re in New York, but when you leave you find yourself not in Times Square but in Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan.

I woke up with a craving for New York, with its bagels with salmon and soft cheese, its tall coffees sipped while walking, its pressurized steam whistling from the grates. That New York that slaps you on the cheeks with its bitter cold, so that to survive you dive into the first bar you come across, only to find that it’s exactly the right one.

The one where you meet the right person, leaning against the bar, on the side opposite to you. You look at each other surreptitiously, concealing embarrassment using crazy gestures, maybe even letting a smile escape. Continuing to smile, you get up, more awkward than you’ve ever been before, and shift over three or four stools, one at a time, self-conscious like in primary school when you used to hate the feeling of people looking at you when your name was called for attendance.

Side by side, you throw yourself headfirst into a courageous endeavor: entering the parallel universe of the person sitting next to you, cutting through that insurmountable boundary of being strangers. Your voice cracks – “Hi, what are you drinking?” – immediately realizing that you’ve reached a new low in your career as a dork, outdoing even that just a second later – “Can I buy you another?” – It just keeps getting worse, you are truly a loser.

But it’s exactly then, when you’re outdoing yourself – like when a movie is so bad it becomes a cult sensation – that she looks at you and you feel the whole world open before you. That’s how love starts, or at least what I hope to be so. And New York has nothing to do with it.

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