Another Medaloni Mixxes it up

by Brian Clarey


Mama Medaloni’s fingers fly over the touchscreen perched on the corner of the ultramod bar, offhandedly picking off three-letter words as she carries on a conversation with the bartender and a patron. “Yeah,” Mama Medaloni is saying. “We uptown now.” Uptown, indeed. The Mixx Martini Bar & Restaurant is not exactly situated in the north end of town, but the differences between this joint and the ones pioneered by her son Joey downtown on Elm Street have a lot to do with location. The restaurant exists inside what was once the Revival Grill, a warehouse-sized expanse to the rear of the Quaker Village shopping center, and the place has been gutted, recalibrated and redesigned enough to make it unrecognizable to faithful Revival regulars. All of this comes from Mama Medaloni’s other son, Matthew, Joey’s younger brother who is known to the Triad discorati as DJ Spinny. The lounge is quiet on a Saturday evening, with two couples dining at the bar and another foursome seated on the black leather couches. The room has white walls accented with chrome and a few splashes of aquamarine here and there, and through the glass doors I can see a section of the dining room: a couple rows of white upholstered booths. The football game is showing on a couple of tastefully placed flat-screen televisions — Arizona is up 30-17 over Atlanta — but the sound is turned low underneath quiet music and the plinking of Mama Medaloni’s machine. I’m sure there’s a menu here, and perhaps one day I’ll explore it. But tonight I’m here for the other half of the bill: a martini. Yes, I normally drink brown liquor in the wintertime — keeps you warm, you know — but I consider myself something of an aficionado when it comes to martinis, and though I prefer them on a patio during a warm spring eve, it is my job to see that the bartender knows her way around a mixing tin and a jigger. The Mixx Martini Bar & Restaurant 604 Milner Drive, Greensboro; 336.315.2100

I like mine dry and a little bit dirty, with vodka… Smirnoff, actually, as directed by my friend John Rudy, but in the absence of that, Stolichnaya will do. The bartender, Stacy Dove, makes a fine clatter with the shaker, pours and garnishes the drink with aplomb. Three olives. And the first sip proves that she’s capably constructed my drink. It is not transcendent, mind you — there are perhaps five bartenders in Greensboro able to build a transcendent martini — but she’s the friendly sort, and easy on the eyes as well, which adds a few points. She shows me some of the other chilled and mixed concoctions on the menu: colored and fruity pours, most of which are available in some form or another at nearly every bar downtown. But, of course, we are not downtown. Location is everything. “Girls love Pure Ecstasy,” Dove says, referencing one of the top sellers on the menu. “It’s a French martini. Also people love the Charleston.” The Charleston is a new one on me, made with — get this — vodka infused with the essence of sweet tea. The brand name is Firefly, and Dove pours me a small taste. It’s fabulous. Seriously: a strong tea flavor, with notes of honey and the tiniest bite of alcohol. I remark that it would stand just fine against ice. “With maybe a squeeze of lemon?” Dove suggests. Hell yeah. The room is pretty quiet for a Saturday, but it’s early yet and Dove says she’s expecting the crown at 10 p.m. or so. Together we lament the late Revival Grill, and speculate what 2009 will hold for the Triad restaurant industry. Mama Medaloni’s got something to say on the subject. “The economy sucks,” she says, her fingers still working the touch screen, now making monsters disappear into the ground. “The education sucks, too. And those children, that’s the future. So the future sucks, too. I’ll be dead by then.” She shrugs and goes back to the touchscreen.