The Student Voice of St. George's School

The Creed

The Student Voice of St. George's School

The Creed

The Student Voice of St. George's School

The Creed

An afternoon with Italy

The school’s Journalism 11/12 class made a field trip to La Caffe Tana, a Dine-out restaurant on Commercial Drive.
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Desy Cheng
The Journalism 12 class in front of La Caffe Tana

Picture yourself walking through Little Italy during mid-1900s New York, a panorama straight out of Coppola’s trilogy. You’re starving, so it was quite the happenstance for you to stumble across a small restaurant tucked away behind all the traffic and processions. That’s the vibe I felt when I entered La Caffe Tana, a home-y Italian restaurant which my class had the pleasure of visiting as part of Vancouver’s annual Dine Out. 

 Ambiance: 5/5

We were lucky enough to get one of the raised tables next to the restaurant’s marketplace, where we could get a good view of both the kitchen and pasta booth. I’d say that the quality of any restaurant is made or broken by its complementary bread; after all, our first impression of La Cafe Tana came with its freshly made focaccia. Even without the extra layer of tanginess that was brought with the balsamic vinegar and volpi oil, the unami loaf was soft and still melted in your mouth. Usually I prefer bread with a harder crust, but I’ll give this batch a pass. If only they gave us a little more— but I shouldn’t be complaining about free food.  

Focaccia: 4/5

The house’s Foccacia, paired with a vinegar-based dip

First impressions aside, I wasn’t a big fan of the second course. The Stracciatella alla Romana, on paper, was a simple egg drop soup with a few pieces of chicken meat, Romano cheese, and some alphabet noodles— a peculiar choice. The soup’s flavor was savory, with an overpowering taste of cheese which undermined the presence of chicken and egg. It reminded me of a bowl of French Onion soup, with its subpar presentation, peculiar combination of ingredients, and ultimately basic flavor profile— kind of a let-down. 

Stracciatella alla Romana: 2.5/5

The egg drop soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But like the Romana cheese in the egg drop soup, Cafe La Tana’s pasta entree took the spotlight. I had the pasta del giorno, a truffle-based ravioli with a rich alfredo sauce. The texture of the dough was grounded, and chewy, but not tough. With a ricotta cheese filling and simple parmesan topping, each bite was like a little pocket of heaven— or Sicily. Despite its bold flavors and multiplicity of cheese, it wasn’t excessive and still tasted refined. I’ll admit, I was initially underwhelmed by the deceptively small portions, but the dish was weirdly filling, even though I still could’ve finished another plate entirely. 

Truffle Ravioli: 4.5/5

The truffle ravioli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considering that La Caffe Tana borders the renowned Peppinos, it’s only deserving that the meatballs get an individual review. Maybe Peppino’s was just running low on staff that day, because it sounded like half the meatballs my class received were fresh, while the other half came from yesterday. My meatball felt more like a medium-well steak: tough, a little dry, but still flavorful. I appreciated the classic tomato sauce, which was refreshing considering that my entree was rich and creamy. Maybe it’s because my expectations were inflated by the high praise Peppino’s received, but I was disappointed with my side of meatball. 

Peppino’s Meatball: 3.5/5

A trio of meatballs

The chocolate mouse, I heard, was to die for; now that I think about it, any more than two servings of this would actually kill you. Presented clumsily in a glass cup, it reminded me of an ice cream sundae: something nobody would pass down, but not something you’d want out of a dine-out trip. The flavor profile was quite linear and one-dimensional, with a single overpowering taste of chocolatey sweetness; the nuts and olive oil were more of an afterthought than a positive addition. I’m sure the cannoli would have been a more fitting end to the trip— so that’s on me and my choice of order. 

Chocolate Mousse: 3/5

The chocolate mousse, paired with a bottle of the restaurant’s olive oil

To be honest, a few of the high expectations I held going into La Cafe Tana weren’t quite met, but most of those issues were nullified by the restaurant’s soul and rustic ambiance. No dish was by any means subpar, only some outshined others, leaving a little more to be desired. The small inconsistencies between courses were off-putting, but I would return to La Cafe Tana for the sole reason of sampling their variety of authentic pasta. Ultimately, a niche restaurant that does one thing beautifully is more appealing than one that’s just a jack of all trades, master of none. I wouldn’t have had my first ever Dine Out experience any other way. 

 

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About the Contributor
Richard Wang, Staff Writer
Richard is a Grade 12 Student at St George’s School and an active member of the Saint’s Players theatre program. Although Richard started doing acting in Grade 8, he found more of a calling in the technical side of performance, taking a backstage seat behind the scenes for school productions. Richard is also an active short story writer and poet. Recently, he has been experimenting with other mediums like screenwriting and playwriting. Outside of the classroom, Richard likes crime films like The Godfather, King of New York, or Heat, but really, he’s also a big sucker for cartoons. This year Richard is both excited and tentative about delving into the unfamiliar world of journalism.

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