As a general rule, we eat out for breakfast at least once a week, and thereby have sampled many of the breakfast places in town. This morning Colin and I tried Caffè Torino, at the southwest corner of Lambert and La Cañada, which we enjoyed enough that it will likely feature heavily in our weekend breakfast rotation.
The atmosphere is lovely: we sat on the terrace, which had deep, wicker-back chairs and solid tables that didn't wobble on the concrete. The mesh covers they had put up over the terrace let in just the right amount of light; the music was bright and jazzy but at a pleasant volume; Colin appreciated the red stone pillars, and I liked the pots with small citrus trees at the gaps in the wrought iron fence. The noise level overall was quite low and peaceful. Had there been a cobblestone street in front of us instead of the parking lot, it would have been perfect.
I had a hard time deciding what to order. The breakfast menu was fairly extensive, with Italian twists on the usual options. At the waitress's suggestion I went with the Uovo con Prosciutto; Colin had the Eggs Benedict. There is no children's menu, but we ordered à la carte for J: a hard-boiled egg and a fruit cup. They brought a very large piece of paper and a tin cup of markers to entertain her.
They serve LavAzza coffee, a brand from Italy that Colin and I fell in love with originally at Le Delice. It's smooth and strong and chocolatey, and here it comes in large, white mugs with the LavAzza logo on the side. The ice water is served in large goblets with a lemon garnish, which is a small upgrade but one I appreciate. So often restaurants treat their water like the red-headed stepchild, and give you the cheapest cups they have.
My Uovo con Prosciutto was absolutely delicious. The eggs were over medium--and true to that, just runny enough in the yolk--and somehow fluffy, layered with melted, tangy asiago cheese and a crown of prosciutto. I sometimes have texture issues with ham products, but this worked wonderfully with the yolk and the cheese. I picked the red potatoes with rosemary for a side (the other options were fruit or sliced tomatoes), and they were crisp and buttery but not overdone. The ciabatta toast came buttered and was perfect to sop up the excess yolk.
Colin's Egg Benedict had the best hollandaise he's tried so far (he's made it a point to sample the Benedict at every restaurant that serves it). I appreciated that it was an accent flavor and not a soup, as at some places. He said that the Canadian bacon was a bit chewy, but the smokiness redeemed it. Joley's hardboiled egg was fresh and lacked that green film around the yolk that I loathe; her fruit cup had a nice variety, with only a few pieces of melon among lots of pineapple, strawberries, and bananas.
We ordered the Bananas Foster for dessert, which was sweet and delicious but not overpowering; its only downfall was that it very quickly became more of a soup than solid.
They could work a bit more on their service: with only two waitresses, things lagged a bit, especially near the end when the terrace was almost filled. They appeared to be mother and daughter, and both had slight and charming accents. Our brunch set us back about $40, plus tip, which is comparable to other places with much less going for them.
If you're looking for something beyond your typical greasy spoon, this is a stellar option.
(Next time I do a review, I'll bring my camera for pictures. You lose a lot by not being able to see how pretty the food was.)