Sherman's Food Adventures: Caffe La Tana

Caffe La Tana

Attached in more ways than one, Caffe La Tana is not only right beside Pepino's on Commercial Drive, it belongs to the same restaurant group that includes Savio Volpe.  Whereas Pepino's dishes up the classic American-Italian red sauce, Caffe La Tana serves traditional Italian.  For me, I enjoy both, so there are no preferences.  With that in mind, I finally got a chance to try the place out on a rainy morning with intention of ordering their freshly made in-house pastas as well as some of their baked goods at the end.  Now, I mentioned I visited in the morning because the place fills up quickly for lunch as there are literally on 4 tables of 4 and a few counter seats in the front.

Being a caffe, I did decided to order a Cappuccino.  This was prepared quite well with noted espresso flavour.  At the same time, the ratio of milk was spot on as it complimented rather than watering it down.  This all went down smooth and easy.  A good drink for a cloudy and rainy day.  Now that was good, but we were really here for the pasta!  The first one to arrive was the Agnolotti filled with veal, chicken and pork while sauced with roasting jus, butter and black pepper.  We universally thought this was excellent with thin al dente pasta enveloping flavourful, albeit a touch dry, shredded meat.  There was plenty of impact from the jus as it embodied all of the umaminess  of the meats.  The dusting of cheese on top provided a salty nuttiness.

We had the Ricotta Ravioli with pomodoro and fresh basil next and the thinness of the pasta was more evident than the agnolotti due to the increased surface area.  It was delicate but still completely al dente.  I thought the pomodoro was bright, tangy and balanced.  There was enough ricotta inside the ravioli to balance off the acidity of the sauce.  Tied with the agnolotti as our favourite pasta was the Fettuccine Bolognese.  The thin ribbons of pasta were texturally appealing with good mouth feel.  Once again, they were able to achieve al dente with such a thin and delicate pasta.  Blessed with a good amount of tender meat morsels, there was an earthy umaminess to the dish.  Furthermore, the cheese on top added an extra punch of nuttiness.

Moving away from pasta, we also shared the Pepino's Meatball Michetta Panino with lots of melted cheese and pickled peppers.  Featuring sliced portions of the large meatball served at Pepino's (which I've had and enjoyed), the sandwich was plenty hearty.  Exhibiting layers of tang, saltiness, meatiness and a touch of spice, this was a complete sandwich.  My only wish was that the crusty bread was not so dense.  Ending things off, we couldn't decide on what to choose, so we ended up with the Pasticcini Tray consisting of Cannoli, Sfogliatella, Lemon Meringue Tart, Bombolini, and Jam Crostatina.  Our favourite was the
sfogliatella or "lobster tail".  Unlike the huge unrefined monstrosity found at Mike's Pastry in Boston, this one was delicate, crispy and filled with ricotta spiked with candied fruit.  The lemon tart was also good where the custard was tangy and sweet while the shell was firm and buttery.  This platter was a good value at $15.00.  Overall, the best part of the meal was still the pastas.  Sure, they weren't exactly cheap, but the quality was definitely there.  Certainly worth trying.

The Good:
- On point hand-made pastas
- Friendly service
- Focused menu

The Bad:
- Place is super small, prepare to wait
- A little pricey overall

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