Aumm Aumm Pizzeria & Wine Bar in New Jersey

You should see my apartment before my love and I head out for a date.

Balled up shirts and drawers from my jewelry box clutter his side of the bed. His sneaker boxes teeter in stacks on my side. And combs, brushes, hair clips, and makeup clutter the bathroom sink.

It’s chaotic and I’d like to think it adds to the excitement of the night.

But.

When I went on my very first self-date, there was none of that. Everything was still intact. Even my preparation was lazy. I threw on a black tank top dress for ease. I pulled my hair back behind my ears. With a dab of cherry balm dotcom Glossier lip gloss, I was ready and out the door.

As I sat at a two-top outside of Aumm Aumm Pizzeria & Wine Bar later that night, I thought about that. I thought about the way I almost talked myself out of the experience for takeout. But why? I rarely turn down dates. Money popped in my head, but we all deserve one night to ourselves, right?

I ordered a glass of rosé to calm my thoughts.

It was going to be a good night. I was claiming it. And I knew it was true after one sip of the crisp wine with hints of strawberries and peaches bubbling from the glass.

Feeling like a character from Ruth Reichel’s “Garlic and Sapphires” book (sans costume and wig), I ordered the night’s appetizer special: baby clams.

To say I had a relationship with my food that night would be an understatement.

I twirled the meat out of its shells and dunked each clam in the buttery wine sauce. At one point, some of it dripped down the side of my chin. I noticed the man from the table on the opposite side of the window where I sat looking at me. I looked at him and went right back to work. I doused the crostinis in the sauce as if it were a steak. It was so good, my server had to guard my bowl from the busboys trying to make room for my entrée.

But not before dropping off warm focaccia fresh out of the brick oven.

Now, I’ve eaten focaccia more than someone should as a server. This was worlds apart from the pieces I nibbled on between tables. The homemade bread had a subtle crunch on the outside with a soft center, which is not to be confused with doughy. I loved how the charred spots carried notes of the wood from the red brick oven.

“How is everything?” I heard my server say. I knew she was talking to me, but I was so lost in the flavors, it took a while to answer.

Confession: I’ve only liked eggplant parmesan once in my life. Up until then, I wasn’t even sure if I liked eggplant. But because it was a date and I was feeling adventurous, I went for something different.

My fork sliced through it like butter. I couldn’t tell where the eggplant and cheese began. They seemed to melt together as if the meal was a mountain of mozzarella. The flavor of the fresh basil lingered on my tongue from the pool of red sauce that surrounded my plate.

I considered ordering dessert at the request of the nearby couple speaking what I assumed was Portuguese. They suggested the cheesecake even though they agreed that everything is delicious. I declined saying it’ll give me something to look forward to on my next visit.

On the picture of my plate, I messaged my sister “Dee-Vine” when she didn’t answer. I practically skipped home while gushing to my love on the phone about my date.

Have you ever been on a self-date? Where did you go and did you have as much as an experience as I did? I’d love to hear!

Aumm Aumm Pizzeria and Wine Bar is a Neopolitan-styled restaurant located at 7701 Broadway Avenue in North Bergen, New Jersey. Follow the restaurant on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook