Maybe we wouldn't be dealing with a government shutdown if Sergio Vitale owned a restaurant in Washington.
A Democrat and Republican gubernatorial candidate chatted amicably at Vitale's Little Italy Restaurant Monday evening before retreating to private dining rooms with their respective entourages.
Democrat Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, fresh from his announcing his pick for a running mate, Prince George's Del. Jolene Ivey, and Republican Harford County Executive David R. Craig greeted each other at a cocktail reception before dining at Aldo's Ristorante Italiano, Vitale said.
"I'm told it was very cordial, even if a Smalltimore surprise," Vitale said in an email. "They chatted for a bit and then went off to their respective groups and were served."
While Vitale had known in advance that Craig's gathering was political, he had not been alerted that the second party was Gansler and his supporters.
Vitale, Aldo's owner and operator, said he instructed servers to keep the doors to the two dining rooms shut since both candidates were discussing strategy with supporters.
"Guests must pass the Craig doors to use the Men's Room and the Gansler doors to visit the bar --and, maybe it was just me, but it seemed as though guests who did so lingered a little longer than I'm accustomed to seeing, so I told the staff to keep the doors closed for good measure," Vitale said.
The meeting struck Vitale as politics at its best: "hard-fought battles during the day, and a laugh shared over a cocktail at night."
Or, he quipped, "like Thanksgiving Dinner at an Italian family's house."
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Vitale says Aldo's has fans on both sides of the aisle. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (a Little Italy native) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have dined there, as well as Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.