Saturday, September 17, 2011

caffe De Luca

I first came to caffe De Luca several years ago to participate in a salon style conversation group. At the time, it was essentially an Italian coffee shop but it also served individual size thin crust pizzas, some sandwiches and had a small listing of beers and wine. Over the years, it has expanded the kitchen and started serving some pasta dishes for dinner. I have always liked the interior of the place. It has a very high ceiling with red walls painted with a mural looking like small-town Italy. The bar is on the left side of the room and runs into the kitchen area which is semi-open and there is a stair above the kitchen leading to what looks like an apartment with clothes hanging on a line over the "alley" outside the door. The dining area is divided into three rooms inside with a patio area outside. All of the food that I have ever had here has been very good as well. The sandwiches and pizzas were simple and seasonal, and everything has a nice Italian accent. I hadn't been here for a while so I decided to make a visit one day last week. What I had forgotten after not having been here in a while is that while the service is mostly friendly, it is also very lackluster. Most nicer dining establishments have a hostess station and they will seat you. There is no hostess station here and there is also no one really to tell you to seat yourself so I have seen people walk in and stand, waiting for a few minutes to be seated before finally being told to seat themselves. Seating yourself without being noticed can also be a problem, because while it is a relatively small place, it might be a while before you are noticed.I walked in and went through the restaurant to see if there was anyone that I knew here. There wasn't so I seated myself in the front room where I thought I would most likely be noticed. It took a few minutes (but just a few) but someone brought me some water and the menus. The waitress came a few minutes later to ask for my drink order. She took my order when she brought back my beer (Stella Artois). I ordered a Tortellacci Carbonara. I have seen filled ring pasta called tortellini, tortelloni, and now tortellacci. I have never seen a difference between any of them and I don't know what the difference might be but I do know that they are good. There are a couple of types of carbonara as well. It can be made as a white sauce with cream or with wine but they both have parmesan cheese and a cured Italian pork, either prosciutto de parma or pancetta. In any case, I have never had a bad carbonara and this one was very good. It was the filled pasta with pancetta, a cream sauce, and grated parmesan. I finished my beer and my entree and waited for someone to check on me. The bus boy asked me if I was interested in another beer when he came to pick up my dishes but I was not. I assume that he told the waitress that I was done because when she finally showed up (in the time that I waited, a couple walked in, seated themselves, waited, and eventually left because no one came with water or menus.) she brought me the bill. I did find it a little irritating because I was interested in dessert which is another something that they do very well. I looked and while there are several things on the menu that piqued my interest, I went with the tiramisu. Tiramisu is a dessert of coffee-soaked ladyfingers topped with mascarpone and cocoa. What's not to like? This was also topped with strawberries and garnished with dark chocolate. It was very good. After I got my bill, I paid and left. While I like the ambiance of the place and they have someone that really knows what they are doing in the kitchen, I must remember that the service here is very casual and can take some time. It isn't somewhere that you would want to go to if you are in a hurry or want great service.

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