Creative Juices Wine Blog

Casual Dining: El Paso

Posted in Restaurant reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on November 22, 2009

At our last Wine 101 class, we gave away a bottle of La Posta Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina. We decided that we should taste the bottle ourselves in order to compare notes with Aaron, the recipient, so we went out and bought one of our own.

Last night, we were in the mood for a light dinner, and more specifically, something casual. We found ourselves craving a pizza, and somewhere new. As we mentioned before, there was a bottle of wine to be consumed as well.

Wine drinking comes with the stigma of being pretentious, or “fancy.” Those of you who know us well, know that we don’t buy into that line of thinking or living. We do however enjoy great wine, great food, and great people.

With our bottle of La Posta in tow, we ventured out to one of the few bring your own bottle establishments in El Paso, Café Italia. The cozy restaurant has few frills (to be exact, zero). What it does have however, is a terrific owner/chef (Daniel Rangel), mind blowing food, and a rustic charm that makes one feel right at home.

The Marguerita Pizza that we shared incorporates homegrown tomatoes and basil as well as fresh mozzarella (which is made every day). The dough is made from scratch daily, and the pizza is prepared in a brick fire oven.

The Malbec provided a decent pairing partner, however, wasn’t perfect. It complimented the pizza, but didn’t improve it in any way (not to say that the pizza needed improvement, it didn’t).

We saved room for dessert, and sampled three desserts from the menu; Crème Brulée, Pumpkin Mousse, and a Cheese Cake topped with a red wine berry sauce. All three were outstanding.

We had the pleasure of being joined by the owner and chef, Daniel Rangel. We shared a wonderful conversation, during which Daniel shared his passion for El Paso, and it’s cuisine. He went on to express how important fresh ingredients are to his vision. Coming from New York, where this practice is more commonly used, we recognized and appreciate these accomplishments.

As we have found with a few Restauranteurs around town, Daniel puts in an effort that shouldn’t go unnoticed. He is doing something different, and we believe that there is a lot to be learned from getting back to fundamentals, and keeping it simple. Then again, quality ingredients, and a passion for producing mouth-watering cuisine doesn’t hurt either. Daniel has definitely made two new friends in us, and we hope to see everyone there.

We rate the La Posta Malbec 89 points, and our experience at Café Italia 5 stars (we don’t really have a restaurant rating system, however we liked it a lot).

For more information about Café Italia, call 915.832.0587 or visit http://www.elpasocafeitalia.com. Cheers!

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