Last week I finally made it down to Tiramisu Bistro (formerly Cafe Tiramisu) to have dinner. My friend Sharon and I have wanted to try the place since it opened and I have been thwarted numerous times: they’re closed on Sundays, there’s a blizzard, it’s too far… etc.
With the menus posted on chalkboards and the central coffee bar a prominent feature, it seemed like you would order at the counter, but no. I was surprised when our server offered us actual menus and asked us to take our seats, he’d be over to take our order soon. Half bistro, half restaurant style? The place was only a quarter or so filled on the Monday night, with most sipping coffee, on laptops, or catching up with a friend. Only a couple of tables appeared to be there for dinner.
The appearance of the menu eerily reminds me of Famoso’s menu, a trifold mix of soups and salads, pizza and pastas, and little icons to indicate vegetarian or spicy dishes. Either they’re both using the same standard template, or this was an intentional replica. The menu items themselves are similar, as they both serve Italian cuisine.
To start, we shared the salmone bruschetta: smoked salmon with a dill cream cheese spread, capers, red onions, and a small mixed green salad. Although a classic combination, the dish was mediocre. I could have used more dill, less cream cheese, and the single piece of red onion seemed an odd way of presentation.
Wanting to compare their pizza to my usual order at Famoso’s, I ordered the Calabrese pizza, a cream sauce, bocconcini, proscuitto, and arugula. Very similar in taste but the richness of the cream sauce and the larger portions of bocconcini made me prefer the lighter Famoso version. Plus, in addition to the proscuitto, a dry cured Italian ham, the salt overpowered both of our palates by the second slice! The plus side: I enjoyed their crisper thin crust (Famoso keeps getting soggier by the visit for some reason).
Sharon ordered the spaghetti frutti mare, a dish with mussels, shrimp, pesto wine sauce, parmesan, and parsley. Beautiful presentation, although you could see the parmesan heavily sprinkled over top. It would have been nice to add that ourselves. Not only was it parmesan on top, it was mixed in with more salt! The whole purpose of boiling pasta with salted water is so that the pasta absorbs the salt, making it tastier, without that salty exterior. The pesto wine sauce was flavorful though but the whole dish was salt salt salt. Perhaps the chef that night had a cold?
Not terribly satisfied with my shared meal, I wanted to try the dessert. How can you go wrong with ordering tiramisu at a restaurant of the same name? What came out was a glass portion of tiramisu. I was expecting an actual slice of tiramisu, and somehow this dish didn’t impress me either with its overly soggy ladyfingers (I’m aware they’re suppose to be softer, after soaking in coffee, but not to the point of mushy).
Overall, our dinner had multiple areas which needed improvement, although overly seasoned would be one of them. Sharon even commented on how much water she drank throughout the dinner and at home after she dropped me off. Likewise, I was just as thirsty. The bright side to our evening, we finally managed to visit the café, it had a beautiful interior and would be a great place for a coffee or “lift me up” snack. There’s even a small room for children to play in, an easy drop off while you meet with somebody. The service was excellent with our server being very attentive, especially to our emptying glasses of water. Other tables thanked him for his menu recommendations and the speediness of the kitchen. Would I come back? Maybe on a Friday or Saturday night to try the dinner again. Over seasoning can be easily fixed and it might have been an off night. Definitely for lunch or coffee if Duchess Bakery down the block is filled up to capacity.Tiramisu Bistro
10750 – 124 St