As we chat, our final goodbyes underway, I look close-up at the sculptured gold buttocks on the wall. Pino did this. I think to myself “that is very fine,” hoping the model was a woman.
There are uneven nipples on near perfect forms attached to the wall, a bull made of steel, complete with a decent steel penis, and other Greek mythical creatures watching over you, or just watching you, as you come and go on the conservatory-like arcing path from the Mexican street noise to the tranquility of his restaurant bathed in the afternoon sun, and pounding pacific surf.
It’s called Figaro, the restaurant, some of the best home made pastas and hand-sculpted authentic pizza ever. It is perfect for a sunset dinner, and peck on the cheek.
There is a full sized horse, and man-beasts of mythical proportion looking from the walls. “Greek mythology,” Pino said. He did a series of mythical Greek creatures to honor the gods.
See for yourself here: www.pinosart.com/gallery
Today we leave Mexico, already planning our return. Taking one last quick look at the rooms Pino has for select rental in La Manzanilla, Mexico, we have one last manly handshake-hug, he lightly pecks both cheeks of my wife in that classy Italian way I will never master, won’t even try, wouldn’t fly.
I thank him for his hospitality, and the time he took for an interview, recalling it now.
‘Take a seat,” he says. “Sunday I drink Campari, good for the stomach, want one?”
I catch him Sunday mid afternoon, when Mexico is at siesta. We sit on rickety beach chairs, in the shade of an umbrella, in the afternoon pacific breeze, the ocean heaving and sighing at our feet. He has a handful of sweating custom glass filled with ice chilled Campari, that bitter refreshing Italian aperitif, that goes along with the ease of kissing new women on the cheek and not missing a beat.
He came to La Manzanilla in 2000.
“The universe presented me this opportunity. Sometimes we need to just step back and let things happen.” Pino says. “So we’re sculptors–you sculpt with words.”
His hair is sculpted, the nape of his neck shaved halfway up the back, the tops and sides of silver strands gathered in a horizontal clamp that delivers a stylish sort of pony. A tail that suits this sculptor born in Italy, raised in Milan, schooled by the best.
“For 18 years I worked from Miami. Doing projects like the 4 year restoration for Bill Clinton’s mom, in Hot Springs Arkansas.”
His beard-mustache-goatee precision sculpted to say: I am hip; know exactly what I want.
Pino knows exactly what he wants, and he says the universe has given it to him – in spades. I would add to that the universe has also provided a nice location, great business acumen, and a well-executed business model, (which includes a fantastic restaurant, gallery, and room rentals.) He maintains good international connections with people who appreciate his art, and will pay for it. All this adds up to a happy guy, in a happy place, both literally and figuratively.
He tells me about his fight against being swallowed up by the non stop party and swirling circle of promotions and promoters in Miami. We chat about the tract of land he had in Columbia, and about the love he unearthed while uncovering of tombs on his land. He spoke reverently about the love shown by the ancient people toward the dead, evident by how the bodies were cared for, how the bones placed. He became uncomfortable disturbing somebody’s Grandma’s bones, sold the land and moved on.
The path wound to La Manzanilla.
He told me about losing a container of books, 4,600 in all. About this regrettable loss, and how over time the loss was replaced with freedom to travel, move; be free from the baggage we carry.
“It makes me think, why do we collect all, of this stuff? You know, someday, someone else will have all of your stuff, even your underwear.”
The baggage we carry is just that.
“There is nothing that travels with you on your final move,” he says.
I ask myself the same question. Why do we collect and carry all of this stuff? It is uncomfortable.
He is a great host, starting the restaurant experience with a warm personal greeting (I am too standoffish to warrant a kiss on both cheeks), but I get a solid Mano y Mano handshake that says, ‘welcome to my party.’ And it is.
Pinot has a good sense of humour and style. The sculpted dragon’s eyes glow red when the pizza oven is at the right temperature to finish your pizza perfectly. He makes his own mix of chipotle creamy oil for the pizza as an alternate to sprinkled peppers. I would probably name it dragon’s breath, but it smells better, is tastier, and hotter than that.
He handles the cash while overseeing dining room service daily. The dining room wall is completely open, exposed to the pacific on the west side of the room. He closes Monday, buys supplies Wednesday.
Even the fish and chips are sculpted in style: a collection of lightly batter pieces of fish, six in all, home cut potatoes for fries, the tarter sauce was like nothing I had before with lime and chilies, right on the edge of the pacific. Magnifico.
He ends each meal for his guests with chilled lemony Limoncello, a sweet citrus peck on the cheek, so Italian.
Check Pino out on line at www.pinosart.com
Or go La Manzanilla directly, and get the cheeky kiss. Tell him the word-sculptor sent you. Pino is old enough to know what he wants, and young enough he’s getting it.
Sculpt on, brother. He sculpts to please himself.
There is truth here. Ciao, Pino, thanks for sharing of yourself, and your hospitality.