I had my first brush with this Little Italy fixture two years ago when I had to pick up an anniversary gift for my sweetheart, the gift being a painted plate (created by the talented Crazy Plate Lady) of Chris’ favourite thing I made him during the first year we were together— a birthday cake with gummy bears and chocolate-dipped potato chips and a PB and J filling. I digress….
I don’t really venture down to Little Italy that often which I feel isn’t really right considering I live for all things Italian. However, if something isn’t walking distance from Union Station, I usually bypass it. I’m learning I probably shouldn’t do this though because I end up missing out on some really golden stuff out there.
Thursday was different though. I had an appointment at the Italian Consulate and found myself just a short walk from Little Italy, so I dragged my mom for a walk and surprise, surprise, we found ourselves at Café Diplomatico.
Remembering the summertime patio and the beautiful pasta dishes and unique pizza creations from way back when, me and my mom agreed this would make a good lunch stop.
After taking a seat on the patio— that’s right we’re taking advantage of every last second of summer before it gets chilly—we browsed the menu for apps. There are A LOT of antipasto options! Many of which consisted of different meat, cheese and veggie boards. Pasta, pizza and panini options also weren’t in short abundance.
But, before I could entertain food, I had to mull over my beverage options. Luckily, #CaféDiplomatico has daily drink (and food!) specials. Thursdays happen to be reserved for half-price martinis!
I’m usually a wine drinker but the price was far too enticing so I ordered a refreshingly crisp Ice Berry Martini and let me confess, I think I’m a martini fiend now… definitely gonna make a mental note to order them when I’m out on the town since it packs a boozy punch and is way more cost-efficient compared to mixed cocktails.
With drink in hand, it was menu time. No more games, it was time to get serious about what to order.
The thing I found most interesting is that for panini, pasta and pizzas, you are at liberty to customize and create your ideal sandwiches, pasta or slice of 'za!
Though sometimes the options might be overwhelming given the limitless topping combos, I actually enjoyed being able to tailor my meal exactly as I would like it. With dozens of pasta sauce options (Bolognese, Carbonara, Alfredo, Vongole, etc.) and loads of pizza topping spanning from regular, special and gourmet toppings (anchovies, roasted red peppers, arugula, etc.), the possibilities are limitless!
Ultimately, Mom and I settled on sharing the Meatballs with Crostini and a Personal Pizza. Only a few sips into my fruity martini, out came our food.
The meatballs were presented interestingly—cut into slices and doused with Café Diplomatico’s signature tomato sauce and crostini on the side. Though the veal meatballs were a fair size, I will say that I would have liked them to be served as entire meatballs, not pre-sliced. Likewise, the crostini was essentially two pieces of grilled Texas Toast. Kind of a bummer. All of that said, the meatballs were tasty, moist and the sauce was great to sop up with leftover pizza crust.
As for our pizza, I really enjoyed it! We chose to add black olives, spinach and grilled eggplant. I was happy to see that when our pizza was served, its edges hadn’t been burnt by sending too much time in a North American pizza oven. The crust had a soft interior and a crackling crust. It was also thin-crust, so I was worried that towards the centre of the pie it would be a bit soppy, but the pizza held up perfectly when eaten by hand.
Price-wise, I think you get bang for your buck. Mom and I left feeling satisfied. We didn’t feel heavy either, which can sometimes be the case if you scarf down something like a Domino’s pizza.
Overall, I’d come back to dine at Café Diplomatico. I liked sitting on the patio so I could sit and people watch, which is always nice. During winter months I’d probably grab a pizza to go as the interior sort of reminds me of sitting at my Italian Cultural Club.
Naturally, though the restaurant isn’t anything fancy, it is definitely a great spot to dine at if you find yourself in the area. It feels like Nonna’s cooking and maybe that’s why it’s been around for so long; it’s comforting and familiar. What more could you ask for?
If you’re looking for good Italian food without the frills then this is the place for you.
❤ ❤ ❤