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.

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