Café Carolina: An Authentic Italian Treasure

Shhh! Promise you wont tell! Can I trust you to keep our secret?  I’ve discovered a Momma-Poppa place that serves Northern Italian food to die for; one of those simple, unadorned places where the food is the freshest, the gazpacho soup the greatest, the Ravioli Cremaschi only available here. It is an “authentic regional ravioli stuffed with a sweet filling of amaretti, raisins, citron and parmesan cheese, served in a sage-rosemary brown butter sauce.” Wow! The Filet of Sole is baked in parchment paper with a heaping portion of roasted potatoes and distinctively green, green beans at $14.95.

Oh, there’s more…much, much more.  About four years ago, Giuseppe and Isabella Dossi took over this small restaurant and named it for their daughter, the beautiful Carolina. Dossi stepped into the kitchen and began turning out  the most excellent fresh and organic dishes. True, it took us four years to catch up to them, but now that they’ve been found, I shall want to try all the different salads, pastas and entrees on the menu.  We had each of the dishes mentioned above and they rated “A+” on taste, appearance and culinary satisfaction. We didn’t tell you about the Panzanella Toscana: a salad of tomatoes (juicy), cucumbers (extra-crunchy), sliced red onions (as sweet as an onion can be) in an olive oil, red vinegar dressing, topped with croutons (very different) and salted ricotta (yummy).  Good to share at $8.25.

Nor did I mention the Tagliatelle alla Thomas – named for their 13 year-old son – which is a rendering of homemade flat egg pasta with organic chicken meatballs in a fragrant marinara sauce. And that heaping dish of heaven is only $12.95.

Honing his considerable talents at both Prego in Beverly Hills and Il Fornaio in Manhattan Beach, Chef Dossi uses a fresh and natural approach to his food. His early years spent with Mama Dossi were the inspiration that started his passion for fresh, authentic northern Italian cooking.

I can’t wait to go back for another bowl of the gazpacho, or his sautéed organic chicken or  the fresh wild Mahi-Mahi. Nothing here is over $15.95. Everything has the Feinstein seal of approval.

And when you go, do please tell them Giuseppe sent you. With a little bit of luck, they’re going to name a dish after me!  Yes…do try the Tiramisu!

Café Carolina, 17934 Ventura Blvd. Encino CA 91316, Tel. 818-881-8600 Open 7 days after 5:00 p.m.; lunch on Friday only. Dinner for two –  Approx $40 no alcohol, corkage $2