Get what you pay for at Cafe Toscana

Dominick Constantino, Staff Writer

Café Toscana is the perfect restaurant to end a semester of great food reviews. Located right on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, this Italian restaurant’s menu ranges from appetizers like shrimp cocktail to full meals like Gamberi Toscana. I decided to get something that I never had before: Lobster Ravioli.

Before the meal came out, each diner received a piece of bruschetta with a tomato spread. It was so good that when I was finished, I wished I had about five more. The tomatoes were very sweet but the diced onions offset that sweetness. We also got a half-loaf of warm, homemade bread with a tasty seasoned olive oil-based dipping sauce.

The main course was outstanding. Though the pinkish-orange sauce over the ravioli was less than appetizing in appearance, it was utterly delectable. The flavor was reminiscent of vodka sauce, but with a little bit more tang. The fresh-grated Parmesan cheese added to the flavor.

The ravioli were cooked al dente – just  how I like it – and came loaded with lobster and a variety of seasonings. Though lobster isn’t normally my go-to grub, the chunks of tender, well-seasoned lobster mixed with that wonderful pink sauce made me a fan. The meal only came with five ravioli, but they were very filling because of how jam-packed each one was. There was enough extra sauce that I was able to dip the bread in it.

My sister Bethany joined me and ordered penne pasta with shrimp in a pesto sauce, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The dish was very rich and cream and, the shrimp were tender and not overcooked. The portion was big enough that she had some to take home.

The atmosphere here was extremely nice, with decor from the fancier end of the spectrum. The classic Italian music playing through the sound system added to the ambiance. Customers came well-dressed; no shorts or sweatpants here. This isn’t the kind of place you go to on a leisurely afternoon when you’re hankering for Italian, but it’s a great place to go for special occasions or when the parents come to visit.

Of the restaurants I’ve reviewed over the course of the semester, the menu here is the priciest. My lobster raviolis were $18, though that price included the bruschetta, bread and the entrée itself. If you want a soup or salad from the menu, it is an additional $6. The lunch menu is a little cheaper than the dinner menu, pricing soups and salads around $5 and meals starting at $9.

The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” rings true, however, as the excellent quality of the food makes Café Toscana worth the price-tag.

I ate at a lot of great restaurants this semester, but I definitely saved the best for last.

5 stars out of 5