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Sidebars: Gamba Ristorante consistently top notch

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Indiana Lawyer Commentary

SidebarsBe it your law practice, your favorite athlete or sports team, your relationships, or a restaurant, consistent quality is the true measure of any endeavor. Anybody can have a good day and hit a bull’s-eye once and a while out of sheer luck. To keep hitting that target repeatedly is the challenge, especially with the inevitable bad day sprinkled in.

For approximately 20 years, Benito and Hilda Gamba have hit bull’s-eye after bull’s-eye. Starting with Café Venezia in the late 1980s, and then branching out with Venezia Grill in the 1990s, the Gambas delivered top-notch Italian cuisine. That tradition continues with Gamba, a custom-built facility that combines the better of their past two restaurants in Merrillville, Indiana.

A mid-morning court appearance in a neighboring county placed me in perfect position to join my lifelong friend, Mark Thiros, of Merrillville’s Thiros & Stracci, for lunch at Gamba. Any occasion to visit with Mark is a good one, and one-on-one over a quality two-hour lunch is about as good as it gets, even sans wine. But let’s talk about the experience.

As I said, this is a custom-built facility that, at first blush, seems a bit oddly shaped. It is a round building with the restaurant and bar areas flanking the outside portions of the perimeter while nestled in the core is the kitchen and banquet facility. Modeled after upscale European restaurants, this wonderfully efficient design can manage plenty of restaurant seating along with a banquet of up to 200 people, plus about 1,000 bottles of wine storage. In the center is an open courtyard, adding to the charm of the building.

After being greeted by a smiling hostess and immediately seated, our wait-staff placed a basket of warm baguette slices on the table with rich, firm butter and a clear glass bowl of sliced Serrano peppers soaked in olive oil. While appearing intimidating, the latter really isn’t. The peppers aren’t in the oil long enough to noticeably affect the flavor, but if you wanted to add a little flair to your bread you are welcome to pile on as many peppers as you like. This touch provided a uniquely pleasant way to open the meal.

For starters, Mark ordered the split pea with mushroom soup while I chose the pasta fagioli. I’m not a split pea soup guy but my sample of Mark’s gave me pause to change my belief. The subtle mushroom flavor fully added to the rich fresh pea-based puree. My soup was unlike my native Italian grandmother’s. Hers was chicken-broth based with stewed tomatoes, spinach, beans and pasta. Gamba’s version is vegetable-broth based without tomatoes. At the waitress’ suggestion I requested fresh spinach in my bowl and after adding a dollop of the Serrano infused olive oil I nearly had a meal.

I selected the Grilled Mahi Mahi with Brandy Cream Sauce for my entrée while Mark picked the Spicy Spaghetti. Each choice was from the daily special menu or, for you Italian speakers, the Speciali Del Giorno. My dish was simple yet elegantly presented. The grilled fish was outstanding and its flavor was able to hold its own balanced against the sauce. Far too often lesser restaurants tend to overly drape a dish like this in its sauce in an effort to disguise poor quality seafood. Such is not the case at Gamba. Mark’s pasta was laced with chicken, diced tomato, crushed red pepper, garlic, olive oil and finally finished with an arugula pesto. Bright and flavorful, Mark was pleased overall with his selection and after I sampled it we shared the same criticism. The pasta was slightly undercooked, even by al dente standards. That is one small flaw that can be easily fixed so I offer no gavel reduction for that slight mishap by the chef.

Only about a mile from I-65, make this your luncheon or dining choice if you are ever in the Lake County area. Of the dozen or so times I’ve dined at one of the Gamba’s restaurants over the years, I’ve never had a bad experience. Benito “Benny” Gamba is always there, gracing your table to make sure you are satisfied. If you go, call Mark. It’s one of his favorite spots too. Gamba Ristorante, 455 East 84th Drive, Merrillville, IN. 219.736.5000. www.gambaristorante.com•

Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors’.

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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