Pictures are poor due to low light and my refusal to use a flash at restaurants.
A while back I thought I would make a fruit pizza. My imagination and efforts resulted in a sugary pie of repulsiveness. I held hope that a fruit pizza – something other than pineapple - could be pulled off. In my next experiment, I let someone else try their hand at melding fruit, cheese, and bread into a pizza.
I’ve been thinking of trying Toscana Kitchen and Bar, an Italian restaurant in Wilmington, on recommendations from a friend. It has taken me almost two years to get there because I don’t get too excited about Italian restaurants. Why? Because I’m jaded. I once dated an Italian chef. I’ll tell you right now that, with few exceptions, food at a "great" Italian restaurant is humdrum. I don’t know if they’re keeping secrets or if they’re just churning out what Americans think is Italian food. (The one Italian restaurant that I can truly recommend is La Ruota in the tiny Chesapeake Bay town of Chestertown, Maryland.)
Back to Toscana…I had heard that the restaurant was kind of happening and could be busy on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant has a snazzy bar, but who doesn’t? The dinning room certainly had many diners, but was not full. This brings me to my gripe of sitting couples at two-top tables. Two-top tables are very small. Once you get water glasses, wine, and appetizers on the table, all must be arranged like a jigsaw puzzle to fit. Bring out the oversized entrée plates and you’ve got a puzzle that can’t be solved. So, please don’t sit me at a two-top unless the restaurant is truly crowded.
Toscana not only sat me and my partner at a two-top when there were plenty of other tables open, they sat us in a corner behind the wall of the server’s computer station. I’m not that ugly, nor was I inappropriately dressed.
While perusing the menu, we started with a bottle of wine that took it’s sweet time arriving. We chose an appetizer special of smoked mozzarella that the server hyped by telling us it was flown in from Italy daily. I can take mozzarella or leave it. It doesn’t have much flavor, but how could we resist really special mozzarella. The mozzarella had no smokiness that we could detect and the really fresh stuff is quite squishy.
I ordered their figaro pizza. This pizza comes with fig puree, Gorgonzola, crisp pancetta, and truffled honey. I passed on the pancetta. The pizza set down in front of me wasn’t actually mine. Another server apologized and whisked it away to return with my fig puree pizza. With the first bite I could taste and smell the honey and Gorgonzola. I actually like this combination. The honey and cheese together was subtly sweet. The fig puree did not cover the pizza entirely, thank goodness. The pizza would have been too sweet if it had. The fig puree combined with the honey was verging on too sweet for me, and I like sweet things. One of the two, honey or fig puree, needed to be removed from the pizza.
My partner had the fettuccine with English peas, Gorgonzola cream, and shaved Reggiano. There could have been stronger flavors of Gorgonzola in the sauce, as it tasted more like a bland cream sauce. Reaching for pepper to spice the fettuccine, he found no salt or pepper on the table. We scanned nearby tables thinking that our table was just too small to include such standards, but there were no shakers to be found. We had to ask for pepper and our server had to grind it for us. Please don’t make me ask for pepper and salt. Salt and pepper is not exotic, so I’m not falling for the haute image you’re trying to create. Plus, it makes me feel like a child.Toscana – it’s an Italian restaurant. Probably better than most, but I’m jaded.
Review addendum. I changed my mind. I can do that.
Toscana Kitchen and Bar, 1412 N. DuPont St., Wilmington, DE, 19806, 302-654-8001
Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11:30a.m-2p.m., Dinner: Mon.-Wed. 5p.m.-10p.m., Thurs.-Sat. 5p.m.-11p.m., Sun. 5p.m.-9p.m.