Going out in high style during the holiday season
Assistant Scene Editor
If you'd like to spend a day taking in some of the area's finer activites, look no further than downtown South Bend.
For a classy evening out with friends, take in the South Bend Symphony's Holiday Pops! Concert at the Morris Performing Arts Center and then enjoy an authentic Italian atmosphere at Sunny Italy Café.
Sunny Italy Café
If you're looking to spend an evening out in traditional Italian style, Sunny Italy Café is the place to be. Located across the river on Niles Ave., South Bend's oldest Italian restaurant offers a friendly, intimate setting and several traditional Italian dishes.
To start off your meal, Sunny Italy offers several interesting appetizers, including Filet of Anchovies ($4), and imported sardines ($4). For the more traditional at heart, garlic toast ($2.75) and Bruschetta ($4.50) are also offered.
Sunny Italy has several specialties, including Shrimp a Ragou ($17), spaghetti in white clam sauce ($12) and delicious Shrimp Scampi ($17) which I chose as my meal. As to be expected from an Italian restaurant, there are several spaghetti dishes offered on the extensive menu, including spaghetti in olive oil and garlic sauce, mushroom sauce, sausage sauce, meat and marinara sauce.
Several entrees, including Chicken Cacciatora (chicken baked in mushroom and wine sauce, $12.50) and Veal Parmagiana (a veal cutlet smothered in tomato sauce, mushrooms and mozzarella, $17), feature a meal served over spaghetti, and are served with salad and bread.
If spaghetti isn't your thing, Sunny Italy offers 8 and 12 oz. New York Strip Steaks ($13 and $16), an 8 oz. cut of Filet Mignon ($19), and Pork Chops ($13), all served with potato, salad and bread.
Still searching for a meal? Try the Rainbow Trout ($13), Chablis Lake Perch ($13), or, for the daring with deep pockets, the Broiled Lobster Tail (market price).
Sunny Italy doesn't want its customers to go home hungry. All of their entrees are big enough to satisfy the biggest appetites, and even then you'll probably have to take some of your meal home with you.
However, if you've still got room for dessert, their Tirami Su ($4.50) and Cannoli ($3) are the perfect way to cap off your meal.
Sunny Italy Café isn't the place to go for a quick bite to eat. The meals are fairly expensive, especially on a college budget, and should probably be saved for a special occasion or for when your parents visit.
However, if you do have the time and money, it's a worthwhile restaurant that sets itself apart by the usual Grape Road fare with excellent food, atmosphere and service.
South Bend Symphony
Sunday is usually a day of rest, recovery, and study at Notre Dame, a time to watch a movie, catch up on sleep and revise papers. However, if you'd like to expand your cultural horizons and get into the holiday spirit, give the South Bend Symphony a try.
Now, you're probably thinking that an afternoon at the symphony, especially a week before finals, is about as appealing as an 8 a.m. seminar on the behavior of Medieval sheep. But before you write it off as an event you'd rather not attend, think of it as two hours of pure, unadulterated holiday vivacity.
Besides, if you called up your mother to tell her you spend the better part of your Sunday at the symphony, she'd be so proud.
The Morris Performing Arts Center hosted the Holiday Pops! Concert on Sunday, Dec. 3rd. Conducted by the talented Tsung Yeh, the program featured the Handbell Choir of Sunnyside Presbyterian Church, Clay High School Swing Sensation and Concert Choir, The Conservatory of Dance Company and, of course, the South Bend Symphony.
The symphony played some holiday favorites, such as "White Christmas" and "We Wish you a Merry Christmas" as well as some lesser-known Christmas songs.
The symphony, although small, is really a very gifted group of musicians. The music was beautifully arranged, and engagingly performed, and the setting, with poinsettias, holiday lights and garland illuminating the stage made for a charming holiday atmosphere.
The symphony, although the headlining event, wasn't the only group performing. By asking several area groups to perform, the concert emphasized the great sense of community in the South Bend area.
The Handbell Choir performed a lovely rendition of "The Ukrainian Bell Carol," the Conservatory of Dance performed highlights from "The Nutcracker" and the Clay High School Choir sang, wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
As most family oriented events go, there was a fair amount of hokey good-tidings-to-all moments. The host, News 22 meteorologist Rick Mecklenburg, in good spirits despite the feathery gold lamè getup he was wearing, ran through several lifeless weather-related jokes in between sets.
And when the Christmas Sing-a-Long came around there was some good-natured eye-rolling form the audience as everyone joined in on "Jingle Bells" and "Away in a Manger."
Overall, the concert was a really nice way to spend an afternoon. It put me in the Christmas spirit, even though I came back to a desk full of unfinished papers and readings for the upcoming week, and brightened my mood for the rest of the day.
You may have missed your chance to see the Holiday Pops! Concert this year. But, if you get the chance to go next year, take the opportunity. You're guaranteed to leave humming a Christmas carol or two and thinking of going home for the holidays to celebrate with your family and friends. And your mom would be so proud.
All Scene Stories for Monday, December 4, 2000