Dining Out: Delightful Di Tazza café far from average

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Why: I discovered Di Tazza Gourmet Coffee & Café while in the neighborhood visiting Applewood’s new deli. At first blush, Di Tazza appears to be just another quick-stop coffee shop among a surplus of options. But Di Tazza is far from average. Homemade soup, paninis, Italian pastries, desserts and decadent handmade chocolate truffles create a delicious menu to support both breakfast and lunch appetites.

Atmosphere: Tuscan-yellow walls accented with black and warm caramel provide a backdrop for cozy comfort. Seating varies from high bistro chairs and a wall bench paired with tables to a sofa and upholstered chairs for a more laid-back experience. Magazines, books and a few games are available for a small dose of entertainment.

What I tried: I decided on the Frittata Panini Sandwich and a Cannoli and my dining companion had the Turkey Panini, which came with a side salad. She also had the Tiramisu. We both sampled the Split Pea and Ham soup.

My sandwich, considered a breakfast sandwich, was filled with slices of a tasty frittata that included cheese, vegetables and sausage in perfect balance with the egg. Although there wasn’t any type of spread on the Panini, it wasn’t dry and it was toasted just right. I found it to be a unique and satisfying sandwich that I would certainly have again.

Both my dining companion and I were impressed with the soup. It had a fresh garden flavor and the consistency was brothy enough to keep the peas from becoming too thick around the other ingredients. The soup was topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan that complimented its taste.

My dining companion opted for provolone cheese with her turkey, tomato and basil panini. She was pleased with the quality of the sandwich, which was generously sized. The side salad was low-key. Made with Romaine lettuce, balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing topped with a bit of parmesan cheese, the salad was a good accompaniment to the sandwich.

Both of our desserts were homemade and possessed classic flavor and composition. They were presented expertly in the pastry case, which made it hard to settle on just one. The cannoli’s thick, crispy shell was filled with a sweet, smooth filling that had a hint of cinnamon and the tiramisu had the unmistakable essence of coffee amid the biscuit layers.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The simple tomato, mozzarella and basil construction of the Caprese panini sandwich reminded me of a Margherita Pizza.

Beverages include Italian sodas, tea and specialty coffee drinks.

A variety of handcrafted chocolate truffles appeared as if any would meet a chocolate lover’s expectation of perfection.

Other observations: The staff at Di Tazza are polite and friendly. This place has set the bar high — we can hope other coffee shop cafes take notice and inspire to do the same.

Cost: The Frittata Panini is $5.50 and lunch sandwiches are $6.25 to $7.50 — side salad included. Soup of the day is served in a bowl for $4.75.

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Telephone: 360-210-7087

Where: 2011 S.E. 192nd Ave., Suite 101, Vancouver.

Health Score: Di Tazza received a score of 5 on Aug. 8. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.