subject: Calvino Cafe
take-out vehicle: paper bag
Located in one of my favorites places in all of Charlottesville, and owned by its neighbor Orzo, my hopes for Calvino Cafe were pretty high. In all the times I've passed it by, I'd never peeked inside before; in fact, I really knew of it nothing besides what was printed on their exterior sign: "Espresso. Smoothies. Good food."
What I found inside reminded me greatly of Greenberry's, except much cozier. A giant black menu hung from the ceiling above the open kitchen. Coffee machines and related paraphernalia filled the right side of the entrance; nice wooden tables and a standing drink cooler were to the left.
After perusing past the more vegetable-y items on the menu, my eyes found what the damp, rainy afternoon demanded: the Moroccan-spiced braised pork, Tuscan bean spread, roasted plum tomato, and goat cheese flatbread wrap. Just reading the words made me a little warmer inside.
Though generally tasty, the wrap itself was not without its flaws. Firstly, it was a tad smaller than I had hoped, but had I ordered a smoothie, I'm sure it would have been plenty. Secondly, the pork, while very tender, did not taste as described. Common Moroccan spices include cumin, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, and cloves, plus a few others, but I trouble tasting anything but the meat. It was good, and I'd probably get it again, but the cook could stand to be a bit more liberal with his spices.
Luckily, the roasted tomatoes and goat cheese provided an abundance of flavor. The plum tomatoes, of which I got three, were slow-roasted whole, and as I bit into each, the juices they had retained mixed with the goat cheese and created a rich and truly excellent accompaniment. Even without the tomatoes, the salt, tang, and creaminess of the cheese made me forget, momentarily, that the spices were lacking in the meat.
The bread was warm, soft, and fresh, which I appreciated, since one of the worst sandwich sins—of which I've been victim several times—is a stiff and/or stale flatbread wrap. (How people with any sense can serve stale flatbread wraps is beyond me. Personally, I think it should be illegal.) Unfortunately, I couldn't find any evidence of there being a Tuscan bean spread, but I admit, I didn't exactly break out my pipe and magnifying glass in my attempt to look.
Tuscan bean salad or no, the wrap was a tasty one. Next time though, I would definitely get a smoothie. As this article was written, I ate eight Keebler fudge stripe cookies. Something tells me that blended fruit, honey, and yogurt would've been the better way to go.