The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

59° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CaffǸ Milano a medium-flavored escape

    Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Orecchitte al quattro formaggi displayed at Cafe Milano, Tuesday, March 23, 2010.  Cafe Milano is located at 46 W. Congress St., Tucson, Ariz.
    Tim Glass
    Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat Orecchitte al quattro formaggi displayed at Cafe Milano, Tuesday, March 23, 2010. Cafe Milano is located at 46 W. Congress St., Tucson, Ariz.

    Hidden behind black canvas screens in downtown Tucson is Caffé Milano Trattoria Paninoteca. Touting quality Italian food and a Yelp.com endorsement, along with ample indoor and patio seating, the pasta place is a rare type in Tucson.

    If, past the dark screens, you find its doors to be open — many Yelpers claim the management keeps inconsistent “”European hours”” and at the conclusion of Friday’s meal, the whiteboard proclaimed that the doors would next be open for dinner Saturday — upon entering the homey oasis, you’ll notice the décor first. Feeling authentically European, each votive holder and poster print — down to the impassioned Versace model guarding the bathrooms — is clearly hand-selected and unique. It’s a relief to sit among decorations not mass produced in the style of motels and Olive Gardens. It’s a refreshing reminder of authentic style to see thick eyebrows and anger just above the name of Gianni Versace.

    The fresh simplicity of the décor is matched by the food. Thanks to Italian 101, I knew even before the waitress described it that the orecchiette al quattro formaggi ($13) would be  “”ear-shaped”” and “”with four cheeses.”” Surprisingly, it was as simple as it sounds. The penne con salsiccia piccante e funghi porcini ($13) was topped with spicy sausage and mushrooms in red sauce. Neither portion was particularly large — though we took a few bites of each dish home — but both were flavorful in a comfort food kind of way and promptly delivered to my companion’s and my heat lamp-warmed patio table.

    In true Italian style, the water glasses were ice-less and kept half-filled, maintaining the feeling of authenticity. However, the waitstaff was cold and unamused by my companion’s admission that he could not pronounce the name of his dish.

    In true Tucsonan style, a man dressed just like the Red Power Ranger revved his motorcycle for several minutes just a few feet from our table, and each party bus or rowdy pickup that drove along Congress Street brought conversation to a halt.

    The conclusion struck upon was this: Italy would be fun for a while, and Tucson is the loudest city in the world. So, for a taste of unique simplicity at a price reasonable for a low-key date — count on $10 to $20 per person — and some beloved and less beloved traits of Italian dining, give Caffé Milano a visit. But, since the pleasure here is in the differences and escape from the everyday, do yourself a favor: Sit inside.

     

    More to Discover
    Activate Search