Off-Convoy: Caffè San Luca

 

 

You haven’t seen us posting on Convoy Conquest for a good while, since Jenne and I no longer have Fridays off together (and we’ve been busy with other blogging pursuits). But I did recently find a gold-star restaurant that you must know about … and it’s neither Asian nor on Convoy!

Caffè San Luca is a cute little place, hidden in a random Hillcrest strip mall, with a warm, gracious owner from Italy who obviously cares deeply about from-scratch, authentic food. Since they’re open from 7AM-6 PM Tuesday through Sunday, you could come here for breakfast, brunch, lunch, a snack, a fancy dessert with wine … so it’s going to be my new go-to when I want to treat myself!

Seriously, my current goal is to try every single thing on the menu. As I visit on a weekly basis (usually on Friday afternoons), I’ll be ranking everything I eat and updating the list below. This is the happiest of rankings, because honestly, I’ve liked everything I’ve eaten.

Every Caffè San Luca Dish: Miko’s Definitive Ranking in Progress

  1. Butternut squash ravioli
    This was a ravioli of the day on one of my visits. I have no words to describe how shockingly delicious it was. And it was a plentiful serving, unlike at fancy Italian restaurants, where you get maybe 4 ravioli on your plate (that aren’t even half as good).
  2. Parma panini
    A seemingly simple sandwich of buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and prosciutto on rosemary focaccia, but the balance of flavor — especially the crispy toasted bread drizzled with fine olive oil + freshness of the gently dressed greens — made it so much more than the sum of its parts.
  3. Tenerina
    A fluffy, flourless chocolate cake that’s not too dark, too intense, or too sweet.
  4. San Luca waffle
    The San Luca sweet items have whipped zabaione (a delicately flavored whipped cream) and chocolate chips. Not usually my kind of thing, but it’s pretty heavenly. There are many San Luca filled pastry options, and I’d bet everyone would disagree about which is the best, but the waffle has been my favorite so far — it has crunchy sugar bits on it too.
  5. Tagliatelle green with bolognese
    These fresh green noodles are so BOUNCY. They are like a trampoline for your mouth. So THIS is the difference between homemade pasta and not. The tagliatelle isn’t listed with the bolognese on the menu, but the owner offered it to us as a sauce option, and we took it. The bolognese tastes like home and unconditional love.
  6. San Luca bomboloni
    See #4 for description of San Luca pastries. A bomboloni is an Italian doughnut.
  7. Tagliatelle green with prosciutto and parmigiano
    Fresh green noodles with tomato sauce, lots of Parmesan, and bits of cooked prosciutto.
  8. Parma tigella
    img_9514
    In the photo above, it’s the one in the middle. A small snack-size version of the Parma panini (currently #2 on this list), on thin, round bread. One of these sandwiches and a shared dessert would be a perfect snack on an indulgent afternoon.
  9. San Luca Italian croissant
    Yay, more San Luca options. The croissants are crispy and good, not soggy in the middle like a typical café’s.
  10. Eggplant parmigiana
    img_9518
    Probably not what you’re picturing if you frequent Olive Garden — more like a layered casserole. Homey. Hearty. It reminded me of very good chile relleno.
  11. Pasta al forno
    A baked pasta dish with tomato sauce, béchamel, and peas. It would be great comfort food on a hard day.
  12. Prosciutto di Parma tigella
    A little snack sandwich of prosciutto and Parmesan. (See photo above — it’s the one in the front.)
  13. Basil pesto and sliced tomato tigella
    Another little snack sandwich of a light pesto and sliced tomato. (See photo above — it’s the one in the back.)
  14. Breakfast croissant
    A hearty sandwich of a crispy croissant with egg, bacon, tomato, arugula, and provolone cheese. It comes with a side salad of dressed greens. This sandwich is enough for two (or you can have a leftover snack for later)!
  15. Oreo cheesecake
    img_9520
    The cheesecake is usually topped with raspberry marmalade, but there was an Oreo option on one of our visits. The cheesecake filling they make is so lovely, the Oreos don’t seem worthy of it. Am eager to try the raspberry for the next visit.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION
Address: 
690 University Ave
Phone number: 
619-501-5557
Noise level: 2
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Shared lot
Ideal group size: 1-4
Available vegetarian options: Many!
Whom not to bring: The food has pretty universal appeal IMHO … Uhhh, people who insist on really strong air conditioning in the summer?

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