Beauty and the bistro
Before going to Un Caffé Italian Bistro, I checked the website to find the address. I saw that their motto is “Where good friends meet for great food.” I like that motto, and it seemed fitting that I was bringing an old friend of mine, Casey, to have lunch with me.
Un Caffé Italian Bistro is a fairly large space split into a more formal restaurant area on the left with a smaller bistro area on the right. The bistro area is cozy and comfortable with high-top tables and a large glass pastry case filled with lots of tasty-looking bakery items. Casey and I decided to have lunch in the restaurant area, which was deserted since we were in at an odd time and the snowy weather outside seemed to be keeping people at home. The restaurant is gorgeous, with a large wooden bar against the brick wall, comfortable booths and soothing colors. The floors are a dark wood, and the walls are adorned with large black and white photos of Italy taken by the chef. Casey and I were escorted to a corner booth by our very friendly waitress, Alma.
The menu offers pasta dishes, sandwiches, salads, pizzas and even loaded baked potatoes. We decided to start with a couple of glasses of the house wine from Backhouse Winery of St. Helena, Calif. ($6), and the grilled, stuffed portabella mushrooms ($7). The wine was decent and improved with the addition of food. The portabella mushrooms arrived looking wonderful, with two decently sized portabellas baked with mozzarella cheese and red sauce. The mushrooms tasted fresh, and I loved all the cheese and garlicky red sauce.
For entrées, I went with the pear and gorgonzola pizza ($13), which came with a creamy white sauce and lots of arugula. The pizza was large and could easily feed two people so I decided to share some with Casey, this being a restaurant of friends and all. The pizza had a nice, thin crust but it definitely needed more pears. The gorgonzola paired with the arugula was wonderful, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order another one of those pizzas. Casey went with the chicken Parmesan panini ($7.50), which came with a side of homemade chips. The panini was a little small, and the basil, while fresh, seemed to overwhelm the flavors of the sandwich a bit, but the red sauce had that same garlic flavor that I enjoyed with the portabella mushrooms. I really liked the chips, which had a subtle barbecue flavor to them.
Service throughout was exceeding friendly, if a bit slow, especially considering we were the only ones in the restaurant, although the bistro side seemed to have some customers. Regardless, it was a leisurely lunch so we weren’t in any hurry to leave. We decided to have another glass of wine, and I noticed that the second pour was a bit small, so I remedied this by drinking the rest of Casey’s wine. Gotta love good friends willing to share their wine with you. Speaking of wine, I noticed that on Tuesdays and Saturdays, there is no corkage fee, which makes me want to come back just to take advantage of that. There might have been a few missteps with our meal, but overall, the beautiful atmosphere, tasty dishes and friendly service would bring me back, as this is definitely a nice place to have a nice meal with friends.