Thursday, May 14, 2009

OPEN: Tosca

3415 West 44th Street
Minneapolis/Linden Hills, MN
(Don't call 612-824-6013 for reservations, this is the Turtle Bread bakery number)

I think I will be the third or fourth person to write about Tosca thus far. There have been some mixed reviews as well as some confusion as to who is actually the head chef (I believe it is Adam Vickerman, the chef from Cafe Levain). Overall, I think people are hopeful that Turtle Bread owner, Harvey McLain's newest venture will be a success.

The Hot Dish (CityPages) food writer/critic had little to say except for the fact that this restaurant has been a long time in the making. It's true. What is now home to Tosca was, for a long while, a couple empty rooms (Turtle Bread's former kitchen and bakery. Now all that has moved to their Chicago location) with a few tables. No one really knew if this place was going to happen or not. Lucky for some, the doors did eventually open on April 17 of this year. They started with a breakfast and lunch selection, but now serve dinner as well.

See what others had to say about Tosca:
Trattoria Tosca on Urbanspoon
The Hot Dish, CityPages
EAT, Pioneer Press
Food+Dining, Msp Mag

We visited yesterday evening for my dad's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD-ERS!) and the wait staff seemed happy and enthusiastic. They said they had a double niche being a delicious new Italian restaurant in a fairly quiet and un-retail-inhabited area.

The inside looked great. Quaint with a little bit of class and flare. The elevated open kitchen was something I personally enjoyed. We sat in the front (there isn't much of a lobby to speak of) near the host station and below the kitchen. Next to us sat a large table cover in a white table cloth that seemed to be home to the bread cutting and wine pouring station. Between the Turtle Bread deli/bakery area and the entrance is another seating area with dark leather booths.

The menu is small, but interesting. I have to say that I personally had a little 'sticker shock' looking at the prices. Then again, I'm in my twenties and still partake in the occasional cup o' noodle because they are fifty cents at the gas station. For anyone though, be prepared to spend about 20-25 bucks per person during dinner. Add a little extra if you intend on making a few selections from their wine or beer list too. They do have a reasonably priced (and a reasonable selection) of beers and wines though. House wines $5/$19, all bottled beer $5 too.

We all tried something different. The bucatini (my personal favorite in the world of pasta), the chicken with polenta, the gnocchi, the salad with anchovy vinaigrette, a pasta with cream sauce served with beets, a cooked greens dish and a local mushroom side. All were good, interesting and a little different. The portions are small, but if you think about it, they make sense.

Let me go on a little rant about portion size here. We, as Americans measure food value in portion size. Super size this, side of that, double this. And while the size portions at Tosca are small, they are what we should be eating. However, I do think it is still a little pricey for what you get, but that's a whole other story.

Some key notes from dinner:
-The anchovy filet on the salad was amazing and the vinaigrette was the best I've ever had. Not overly fishy or salty, but refreshing light and filling.
-The chicken breast was huge! The polenta was creamy and the chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked.
-The mushroom side was something I had really never seen before. A variety of mushrooms sauteed and topped with fresh herbs. I could not pick out the truffle however (I guess I'm not as stealthy as a pig), but it is supposedly in there.
-The bucatini was done just right. Not too chewy, not to mushy. I liked how the sauce had a little bit of a kick too.

Anyways, if you're bleeding money like most of us are these days (or you just want a nice place to eat out and treat yourself) try Tosca. I really admire the staff and Harvey for making this place work. I wish Tosca and the Tosca family continued success.


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