Part Two in the Three Quick-Fire Review Series
To see Part One, click here.
I visited Café Caturra for lunch almost over a month ago and yet the experience has managed to stay fresh in my mind—a testament to just how delightful the experience really was. My dining companion and I decided to give Café Caturra a try for lunch, on a whim, after a shopping excursion in Cameron Village. The atomic cherry red chairs outside on the patio were just too inviting to pass up dining al fresco in the comfortable weather.
A small chain operating with several locations in Virginia and North Carolina, Café Caturra bills itself as a casual restaurant that serves fresh food and boutique wines. Made-to-order sandwiches and salads, panini and pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven encompass the menu. Walk into the Cameron Village location and you will find modern, sleek and comfortable décor with punches of their signature red throughout the restaurant.
Upon entering, we were greeted warmly by a hostess whom directed us to order at the counter. Here is where a little bit of confusion set in. Although patrons order at a counter like most casual restaurants, food after ordering at Café Caturra is served by a member of the waitstaff and patrons are allowed to tack more items to the open bill throughout the rest of the meal. A bit strange and confusing to first-time customers, but only a minor snag in an otherwise smooth operation.
Our meals arrived in a timely fashion. I ordered the vegetable panini and opted to pair it with a cup of gazpacho. Biting into the panini sandwich netted a bit of temporary ambrosial euphoria and easily was one of the best that I’ve had in a good while. The vegetables were fresh, well-seasoned and smothered in between just the right amount of melted provolone cheese. The flavors from the veggies and cheese were accented by a white bean artichoke spread. Simply divine. Of course, the panini was largely helped by the fact that Café Caturra uses bread from Cary’s own La Farm Bakery. Quality bread in a sandwich can make a huge difference and here, it elevated the sandwich from good to stellar. The accompaning gazpacho was equally as delicious—fresh, light and just enough pizzazz and tartness to mop up with the leftover panini bread.
Service was a bit spotty. My dining partner ordered a goat cheese salad that, by her account, was very tasty and contained a liberal amount of goat cheese. However, a mocha ordered at the beginning of the meal did not arrive to our table until the near end of the meal. This hiccup may have been due to the fact that our waiter was doubling as the barista for the day.
With prices just slight above Panera (most sandwiches and pizzas ranging between $8 and $10) Café Caturra is a must-try for cafe fare if you’re in the downtown Raleigh area. And unlike the aforementioned national cafe chain, they do serve adult beverages, with an impressive wine list to boot.
See their Cameron Village location menu here.
432 Woodburn Road
Raleigh, NC 27605
M-Th: 11am to 10pm
Fri. and Sat.: 11am to 11pm
Sun: 11am to 9pm