Deli Counter Plus: Tesoro Cafe Bar

I remember initially reading about Tesoro Cafe Bar (11244 104 Avenue) in Vue Weekly, and being drawn to it because of its Thursday night special – two pastas, a salad, a glass of wine and gelato all for just $20. Well, as it seemed I would never make it there on a Thursday, I decided it might make a good location for our pre-show dinner on Friday, regardless of any particular deals.

Dickson, May and I walked in, and were immediately surprised by the interior of the restaurant. Like Caffe Sorrentino, Tesoro is another one of those quick bite establishments with prominent placement of a refrigerated deli case. Even with dim house lighting and tea lights on every table, Tesoro still gave off a cafeteria-esque vibe. The wicker-based chairs may have had something to do with that as well.

However, with the recent addition of a full sit-down dinner menu, we were willing to overlook the casual decor. The menu included the requisite pasta, panini and thin crust pizza options, as well as fancier fare such as osso buco, all priced under $20. On this night, I was swayed by the Gnocci Alla Margherita ($10.75), made with homemade tomato sauce and fresh basil, while Dickson chose the Gnocci Sanmaio ($10.75), made with hot Italian and Chorizo sausage, truffled mushrooms, tossed in a Rosé sauce, and May ordered the Panini Prosciutto Derosa ($7.75), which featured Italian ham, eggplant, and herbed ricotta.

Our food arrived promptly, and Dickson and I were pleasantly surprised at our portion sizes. As with our dishes at Olive Garden a few weeks ago, however, I much preferred his plate. The homemade tomato sauce with my gnocci contained some heat and flavour from the crushed red pepper and garlic inherent within, but was a tad too sour for my liking. The accompanying bread was also in need of a good toasting – drizzled with some olive oil, and placed on a panini press for two minutes, it would have been crisp and ready to soak up the excess sauce.

I wouldn’t mind returning to Tesoro on a Thursday evening to give their Pasta e Vino a whirl, but other than that, I think there’s better Italian to be found elsewhere.


Gnocci Alla Margherita

Gnocci Sanmaio

Panini Prosciutto Derosa

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