By David Wayne
There are a few hidden gems in the Coachella Valley and Cafe Italia at Cook and Highway 111 in Indian Wells is one of them. Unique simplicity is the best way for me to describe this special restaurant. What makes it simple is a very specialized menu with pasta, fish, veal, and chicken dishes, and a nice variety of appetizers. What makes it unique is that the servers sing while you dine. Our server Kevin Francis was joined by: Sarah Hagar, Kenneth Ugarte, Emmerzon Hernandez, Christine Potenza and Devin Armstrong. They sang tunes such as “Caberet”, “At Last” and a cute rendition of “Be Our Guest”, in which they changed the lyrics to make it funny. All amazing singers; I was pleasantly surprised to have that much talent in a local restaurant.
Kevin was calm, cool and collected, as he informed us the owner Cindy had planned a meal just for my wife and I to enjoy. We found it relaxing to not even have to look at the menu. First, he took our drink orders; my wife having a glass of Chianti Toscolo, which was bright, tangy, and fruity, and I had a hot cappuccino. He brought us three appetizers: Calamaretti Fritti which was golden fried calamari with fresh marinara for dipping, Prosciutto Di Parma: a fresh prosciutto served with melon, pear, and strawberries and Fattoria Italia: various Italian salamis and cheeses, with olives in the center. I also had the soup of the day, a creamy tomato soup topped with parmesan cheese, pureed with garlic and Italian seasoning; it was delightful. He asked us not to eat too much, as he had plenty more in store for us to enjoy. After our delicious appetizers, Kevin brought us a Veal Chop and Shrimp Manaco for our entrees. The veal was lightly breaded and topped with homemade marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, served with pasta in bolognese sauce, with zucchini and carrots on the side. The shrimp Manaco was five jumbo prawns in a savory red and white sauce, on top of a bed of linguine. As we were sitting back in our comfortable booth talking about our amazing meal, and continually being entertained by one song after another, he brought us a homemade Crème Brulee and Tiramisu for dessert. The Crème Brulee was topped with a raspberry dressing and fruit, and the Tiramisu was topped with homemade chocolate sauce, berries and powdered sugar. Both of these fine desserts ended a delicious and delightful meal.
Cafe Italia has an early bird special: a four course meal which includes the soup of the day, a house salad, your choice of one of four entrees and a scoop of spumone ice cream for dessert. This early bird special is quite a deal for only $20. Actually, everything at Cafe Italia is a deal, with entrees ranging from $15.95 for Pasta Pomodorro to $35 for Osso Buco, especially considering you get incredible entertainment at no extra charge.
Open seven days a week
Happy hour: 5:00 pm – 6:00pm
Lunch: 11:00 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Call for reservations: 760-773-3080