Tazza Kitchen – Cameron Village
This has been the week of food experiences! I have some lovely friends that have been open to trying new places and going out to do my favorite thing…EAT! For this outing, we landed girls night at Tazza Kitchen in Cameron Village. It’s one of three, soon to be four, locations that span through three states on the East Coast (NC, SC and VA). Even though it isn’t a local restaurant and is more of a chain, I have to say I enjoyed every minute of the experience. I think it would be an incredibly cool place to go on a date! Here’s why.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
Food/Beverage: 4 out of 5
Ambiance: 5 out of 5
Value: 4 out of 5
Service: 5 out of 5
The inside is so gorgeous! I mean, exposed brick, dark wood, comfortable bench and chair seating set the stage for what could be a very romantic night or a laid back ladies night. Gentlemen, believe me when I say this place would make many of your partners putty in your hands.
We sat, the 5 of us, around a medium sized round table with a bench on one side and two chairs on the outside. I, of course, sat in a chair. I was a little concerned that we’d be cramped. Not just cramped in our own table but amongst the others near by, but it wasn’t a problem at all. And our waitress was a gem of a woman! She jumped in quickly with wine recommendations and gave us suggestions on main course options as well.
For starters, we ordered the Cast Iron Goat Cheese ($7.50). It was a combination of parsley, goat cheese and marinara sauce served with a side of delicious bread. It was warm, lightly oiled and soft on the inside with a nice crispy exterior. We consumed each bite with yummy noises. The goat cheese gave it a great kick that played nicely with the tangy marinara. The salt balance was perfect! I often struggle with salt balance when using goat cheese, but they nailed it.
We also ordered the Crispy Potato and Arugula Salad ($8.50). It was topped with mozzarella, crispy potatoes, sliced almonds and a maple vinaigrette. This was the dish that brought our food score down from 5 to 4.5. It wasn’t good. We ate it all, but the flavors weren’t good. I think some blue cheese instead of mozzarella and a few craisins thrown in may have made this salad perfect, but alas it was a bit bland.
We teetered back and forth between ordering everything on the appetizer menu or each ordering a main course. We went with the main course option. I opted for the pan seared fish with tomatoes and kale (I believe). I think it was around $17.00, but can’t remember exactly and seeing as how they change the menu regularly, I can’t find it on the on-line menu. It was delicious! The fish was a flaky white fish that they pan seared crispy on one side and topped with a beautiful fish stock and some tomatoes. I really enjoyed the dish.
My lovely dining buddy number 1 ordered the crispy polenta and shrimp ($14.50). The shrimp were cooked very well, not too over cooked at all, and the polenta was so crispy and delicious. I’m not a huge fan of polenta, but this was good. This was the dish that our lovely waitress recommended. She wasn’t wrong, the flavors really popped.
Lovely lady number 2 ordered the Chicken Stuffed with Prosciutto ($14). It was a deliciously juicy chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, set on top of a celery root puree and topped with a tomato reduction. We were all a little nervous about the celery root puree, but it was smooth, creamy and a great accessory to the rest of the ingredients. Another winner!
And if that wasn’t enough, the desserts are phenomenal. I have now visited on two separate occasions; once for just drinks and desserts and then this occasion for dinner as well. Both times, this was the winner of the night. It’s simply called Gelato and Cake ($6). It is an orange flourless cake with basil and salty carmel gelato. Look at how much gelato they top it with! This dish was outstanding. So good, in fact, that the other desserts paled in comparison. The cake was moist and flavorful and that salty carmel gelato was incredible!
We also ordered the Chocolate Budino on this visit ($5). I’ve never had anything like this. It was chocolate, olive oil, flake salt and almonds…and that’s it. Two of the ladies at my table devoured this one and liked it more than the one mentioned above. I think they are crazy pants, however I did enjoy it. It was very unique, and simple.
The last dessert, the Queso Fresco Cake ($6.00), was also very good. Again, next to that gelato it just didn’t stand up. This was mint cilantro honey salsa, butter pecans, macerated blackberries, crème fraîche semifreddo on a cake made with queso fresco. Very interesting!
They have a very interesting drink menu too. It’s separated into three categories: Old, New and Adventurous. I’ve had two of their bourbon drinks, one from the adventurous menu and one from the new menu. The one on the new menu had absinthe spritzed into it. Both were very delicious. I believe they were around $9/ea. They were worth it!
I can’t wait to go back! Really. We were all so excited about heading back over and trying the remaining items on the menu. I’ve had the good fortune to be sat at the same waitress’s table on both occasions and hope to always have her as my server. I wish I could remember her name…I want to say she looked like a Rebecca. I guess I’ll have to go back and find out.