Wednesday, March 14, 2012

PUYALLUP, WA: Toscanos is a Treasure!

After a meeting at a nearby business late last summer, I popped into Toscanos Café and Wine Bar for a late afternoon snack and was enchanted by its intimate atmosphere and creative culinary offerings.

Why I waited so long to return for dinner, I’m not sure.


One recent Monday evening, my wife and I were returning from a meeting that had delayed our dinner by at least a couple of hours. Not wanting to simply scarf fast food while we drove back toward Seattle, I decided to see if I could find this place again without a map.

Happily, I did, and dinner was as enjoyable as I expected it would be.

We each started with a glass of wine from the restaurant’s widely varied list of wines by the glass. Notably, there are no “repeats” on Toscanos’ by-the-glass list. While many establishments may have two or three chardonnays crowding their lists, Toscanos offers 15 wines by the glass and each is a different varietal. We chose a Duck Pond Pinot Gris and a L’Ecole Number 41 Semillon.

Toscanos also has an extensive list of wines by the bottle as well as a retinue of craft cocktails.

After our wine arrived, we chose to indulge in the day’s special soup: carrot and corn with tarragon. Warm, hearty, and flavorful, it was just the thing to take the chill off a rainy March evening. Other appetizers included pan seared Ahi tuna in a balsamic reduction and Antipasti di Formaggio.

From there, we moved to our main courses that, because of the late hour, we kept on the lighter side.

My wife chose sweet and sour sole, one of the chef’s specialties, while I opted for a steak trio from the appetizer menu.

The sole was perfectly done; not the least bit overcooked, which is quite easy to do with a delicate fish like sole. Topped with sweet and tart onions braised in sugar and vinegar, it was served with fresh vegetables and risotto.

My three tenderloin medallions were equally delicious. Each carried a different accompaniment: bleu cheese topped one, garlic and butter sauce adorned another, the third was wrapped in prosciutto. I ordered them cooked medium-rare, and they were perfect!

Main dish offerings also include a variety of beef, chicken and seafood dishes, including spicy cioppino, oysters oreganato, and lemon basil salmon.

Our server, Tisa, was a delight. Attentive without being intrusive, she offered suggestions as well as her personal observations on the dishes we were considering.

She also kept the breadbasket full of fresh-baked focaccia and regularly replenished our ramekin of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Desserts and soups are the province of the chef’s wife, according to our server. While we are not sweets people, if the soup was any indication, the desserts are marvelous as well. Executive Chef Tom Pantley handles the rest of the fare.

We’ll be making another trip to the area in a couple of weeks and plan to start our evening, rather than finish it, with another wonderful dinner at Toscanos.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



7 comments:

  1. I went to Toscano's on a Monday night at 9:00. Last orders are taken at 9:30, but my date and I stayed until 10:45, and even though we were the only customers left for the last hour we were there, we were NOT rushed. We were treated like royalty. Excellent service and excellent food!

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  2. Ordered a lunch salad and added the tenderloin per the lunch menu @ $13.95 plus tax..went over to get it and was shocked. Small salad with brown wilted lettuce and four small pieces of steak. I am hypoglycemic and was looking for a good healthy lunch..i will never order from there again.

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  3. Kerrison --

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience. I’ve worked in the industry and all I can say for certain is that things sometimes go wrong. After all, we’re all human.

    However, when something does go wrong, rather than simply leaving and vowing never to go back, SAY SOMETHING.

    Ask for the manager. Explain what wasn’t to your liking or wasn’t what you expected, and why.

    A good restaurateur will strive to make things right!

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  4. My daughter and I stopped in for dinner because I had heard great reviews from one of my shareholders. We were not disappointed. Food was delicious, great flavor and service was amazing!

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  5. I joined 4 other gals for Martini Madness on a Thursday - during happy hour. There were not a lot of other customers. We ordered our drinks which took much longer to serve than I thought they would. They were delicious ~ the host came by and was friendly & fun. We also ordered some appys - The waitress who served us was not friendly :( - when I asked for a napkin ( not enough on table) she was unresponsive -like it bothered her. She returned later and set it in the middle of the table? She also reached over grabbing plates w/o any excuse me. Just not engaging or friendly...I usually like Toscanos to grab a bite w/ friends - Disappointed that the waitress not nice. (dk brown hair gal)

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  6. Hello, Anon.

    Sorry to hear about your experience. However, especially since it sounds like you're more or less a regular, DON'T LET THIS GO WITHOUT TELLING MANAGEMENT.

    Having worked in the industry, I can tell you with certainty that good managers and owners, like those at Toscanos, will want to know about your experience with your server.

    Maybe the server was just having a bad day or maybe she is a problem employee. In either case, if you say nothing, management will have no clue that something was wrong. Trust me, they WILL want to know!

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