Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia suburbs of Northern Liberties and Fishtown have many quaint artisan restaurants and bistros to dine in, and recently I was invited by a friend to join her in a private tasting from Dolce & Caffè.
To say that the food is authentic is an understatement. Dolce & Caffè’s owner Calogero Zito is originally from Italy, and he brought his love of food here to Philadelphia. With one exception: there is a difference in what you might consider as Italian food and what he and his family would willingly place before you.
Here most of us think of Italian food as heavy and creamy meals with large portions of pasta; this is true for the Northern part of Italy. However, the Southern region is where Calogero Zito hails from and is where a cleaner, healthier style of cooking is found.
As such, the dishes that we tried out-leaned towards a Mediterranean style; all of the menu items that we tasted came with greens. The meals were light and utilized their fresh ingredients to flavor what we ate.
Of course not all dishes are entirely on the healthier side, some were hearty—for instance, we ordered two versions of their Bruschetta; one was their Quattro Fromaggi which was mouthwatering because the cheeses were potent in my mouth. Due to one or more of the cheeses melting down the sides, it was a little bit oily so take care when you eat it to prevent anything from dripping. The other Bruschetta we tried was their Crudo. The Crudo was earthy, salty, and savory as it came with prosciutto, greens, melted cheese, and pesto on top.
For our main meals, we had the Burrata Platter with Arugula, tomatoes, figs, truffle oil, and balsamic vinegar. I cannot begin to explain how delectable and flavorful this was. The delicate Burrata oozes its center as soon as you cut into it, and the smell of the truffle oil and balsamic vinegar reaches you before you can taste it. The dish is light, fresh, and very filling.
We also tried one of their Panini’s and one of the Wraps on the menu. I’ve never had lox before, and my eyes bulged as soon as I tasted the Palermo. To me, the lox tasted like bacon, yes—bacon. So if you are like me and have never tried it, I would recommend having it at Dolce and Caffè because it is delicious!
We asked to have their Pisa panini turned into a wrap. It is vegan and made with roasted bell peppers, greens, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts with pesto sauce. It was a little heavy on the oil, but that can be quickly addressed since they make everything from scratch. Outside of the excess oil, the wrap was equally scrumptious and can satisfy your hunger as a light lunch by only eating half of it, or if you are hungry, it’s guilt-free because of how healthy it is.
At some point they offered us to taste-test their latest food creation; The EggNoli is a self-contained menu item where the take one of their house-made cannoli shells and fill it with fresh mozzarella, with a sunny-side-up egg draped on top and then drizzled with their homemade creamy basil sauce. I dislike sunny-side up eggs, but when I bit into The Eggnoli and tasted the palate-pleasing mix of the egg with the mild cheese, the light sweetness of the cannoli shell and the creamy basil…it was like foodie-heaven.
We finished our extravagant lunch/dinner by sharing Dolce & Caffè’s Banana Nutella Crepe. You cannot go wrong when indulging in a dessert; the crepe was plated with a freshly sliced banana, then drizzled with Nutella, and topped with powdered sugar. It was sweet, chocolaty, and the perfect ending to our night.
The staff, Chef, and owner of Dolce & Caffè were very friendly, and I watched as they made sure that everyone who walked through the door was attended to promptly. We had a wonderful and large meal there, taking home several leftovers to have the next day. Moreover, if you are interested in an enjoyable experience and a mouthwatering meal, try their food and coffee menu options for yourself!