A week ago Monday night, the owners, staff, and assorted family and fans of Bizzarro gathered to drink a lot of beer and watch Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives at the nearby Blue Star Cafe & Pub. Bizzarro, a perennial favorite Italian restaurant in Wallingford, is known for its stuff-stuck-all-over-the-place decor. DD&D, a Food Network hit series, is known for its host, Guy Fieri, an overenthused meathead with bleached-blond spiked hair.
While Bizzarro fails to fit into any of the "D" categories, it had been selected for an episode called "Funky Joints." The fan overlap between Bizzarro and the show seemed minimal, and the addition of another "D"—"Douchebag"—was proposed more than once during the viewing. Fieri, however, has won the national popularity contest decisively: The victor of 2006's The Next Food Network Star, he now has three shows and a webpage where men, women, children, and hedgehogs who look like him upload their images in tribute.
Bizzarro staff wore, for the hell of it, the same outfits they wore for filming (here a natty blue vest, there a big red rose against a black lapel). The televised Fieri wore white sunglasses on the back of his head and a Swingers-style neo–bowlingshirt. (On "Guy Day" of the two-day film shoot, a rack of such shirts was rolled in for Fieri's wardrobe choosing.) Hoots and hollers met the on-screen appearance of Bizzarro, while Fieri said things like, "If it's wild, I'll find it!" and "Bizzarro—where the only thing you can expect is THE UNEXPECTED."
The segment made much of the "bizarre-o" backgrounds of the two owners. One, Andrew Bray, was shown wearing a tutu in a still photograph from his Teatro ZinZanni days. The other, Jodi-Paul Wooster, was described as a "former actor" ("Well, I guess I never have to do that again," he said, nonplussed). In reality, Bizzarro's been a haven for theater people, both for work and leisure, for two decades; Bray and Wooster are longtime employees who bought the restaurant last fall. Kitchen scenes highlighted house-made pasta—"Where has this been all my life!" said Fieri, drinking clam linguini sauce directly from the bowl—and Fieri repeatedly fist-bumping the chef.
The show's producer told Wooster that business would skyrocket post-episode; Bizzarro would, apparently, receive inquiries from DD&D pilgrims about the nearest hotels. While being warmly congratulated by all, Wooster worried about the impact. Would he have to play the tiny piano, as seen on TV, constantly? Someone suggested he hire an(other) actor.
The next evening at 6:00 p.m., Bizzarro was full, and not a single one of the customers had ever been to the restaurant before—they had all watched the show. The tiny piano was played.