Best Restaurant Service: O Maria most accommodating
Lo Coco's Restaurant
How do you solve a problem like Maria LoCoco? She of the bright eyes and ruby-red lips. Julie Andrews had nuthin' on this Maria, owner, head chef, and best server ever to grace a family restaurant. For 24 years, Maria has been doing the pasta-pizza-payroll routine up to sixty hours a week at the restaurant her dad started. But she never wilts or snaps or even growls at cranky customers, even those in dire need of a quick calamari fix. One reason, she says, is that she has been dancing in perfect harmony with Joseph Cooper, that elegant salt-and-pepper-haired man with the silver jewelry, black turtleneck ... and those jeans ... fuggedaboutit. Four nights a week the pair overlaps, tap-dancing their way between cramped tables with the red-checked cloths and the endless parade of takeout orders. Joseph is a concert pianist on the side, which explains why he and Maria consider every night a performance where their moves are flawless and the paying customer happy. Maria says she is so busy "watching the restaurant with the volume off," a reference to her level of concentration, that she can't screw up. Nor does she. They can stand on top of our spaghetti anytime.