If Kari Sborov and her husband Scott have their way, a new item will soon be appearing on the menu at Olympia’s Pizzeria La Gitana: the Sborov Special. “We’re working on getting Marian to add it,” says Kari. “We love the mushroom pizza with light ham and extra chopped fresh basil. You can’t beat it.”
The couple has some justification for the idea. Since the restaurant opened six years ago, they’ve been two of its most regular customers, coming by for dinner at least once a week and enjoying memorable date nights when they leave their blended family in other hands and savor each other’s company.
Pizzeria La Gitana was originally recommended by a friend, says Sborov. “Her son was one of the regular cooks and she said, ‘You’ve got to check out the new pizza place in town.’ We went and both my husband and I had flashbacks of the pizza we’d had in Europe when we were in our late teens. I said, ‘This is exactly like the pizza I had in Germany,’ and my husband said the same thing.”
Ever since, they’ve made the restaurant their date night destination. “We treasure our date nights,” says Sborov. “Usually we take a Wednesday or Thursday night, when we don’t have the kids. We take cards, dice or dominoes and we share a pizza and side salad. He gets one beer and I get one glass of wine. It’s a perfect date night for us.”
They generally take their time over dinner unless there’s a line of people waiting on tables. “It’s a leisurely meal for us,” Sborov says. “We don’t rush the pizza. We actually ask them to wait and put the pizza in later so we can time it and enjoy each other. This is our chance to find out what’s gone on during the day or during the week. We’re both full-time at work and this is a nice outlet for us. We come in and have someone bring us our delicious meal.”
Occasionally, the Sborovs will surprise each other with something out of the ordinary. “I did a scavenger hunt for my husband once and I sent him for the side salad course at La Gitana,” says Sborov. “I put flowers and a balloon on the table ahead of time.”
Ambience is a significant part of the appeal. “It’s very comfortable,” she says. “It feels like home.” Usually they’ll sit at their regular table in the back unless the restaurant is so full that it’s not an option. “There may be a party or we may just want to stay up front, but for us it’s a special table. It’s the first one we ever had,” she explains. There was only one evening that they weren’t able to get a table: Valentine’s Day. “In the five or six years we’ve been coming, it was just once,” says Sborov. “Usually, they can find room for us, but that night, it just wasn’t going to happen.”
Along the way, they’ve made their own contribution to the restaurant’s tone. “One day we brought a flower and left it on the table after our date night,” says Sborov. “Shortly after that, they started putting flowers on every table.”
Aside from the ambiance, the couple also appreciates the staff whom they credit with making the pizzeria feel like home. “They know us and they know our order,” she says. “They feel like family. We give them Christmas cards every year.”
Then, of course, there’s the food, which Sborov claims has addictive properties. “It’s the best pizza we’ve ever had,” she says. “It’s completely delicious.” That does not, however, mean that they’ve sampled every dish. “We brought one of our friends here and she said, ‘You come here so often and everybody knows you. You guys have probably tried everything on the menu!’ We had to tell her, ‘No, actually we order the same thing every time we come.’ It was embarrassing.”
As perhaps the restaurant’s most frequent visitors, the couple takes advantage of La Gitana’s club program, which entitles guests to a free pizza once they’ve hit a certain quota. “We can’t even count the number of times we’ve been here,” says Sborov. “Several times, my husband would whip out a calculator and say, ‘We’ve probably spent enough in here to have part ownership in that wall over there!’”
And, they have no plans of stopping. Recently, Sborov’s husband sent a text from Europe where he was traveling for business. The message? “He said, ‘I can’t wait to get home, eat pizza, and roll dice,’” she laughs.
Keep your eyes out for that Sborov Special – it may be here sooner than you think.