Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Published March 7th 2017
Bringing back the retro vibes and modern Italian dishes
Café Salsa on West Beach has always been a bit of an iconic spot to wine and dine at. However, the last year saw the café quite run-down, so after an 8-month transition, new owners - brother-sister duo Lance and Tanya Scopocasa and best friend Natalie Baker stepped in.
Taking on the major task of turning this place around, Café Salsa has already started seeing results after being back in business just over two months ago. The restaurant is hoping to keep the magic of the retro vibes alive through their unhinged décor that boasts of bamboo stems, mismatched furniture that seems to fit right in, and collectible memorabilia from the golden age of the 60s-70s that adds a level of excitement to this space.
Mayor Angela Evans officiating this very special event with the team at Cafe Salsa
The business has had made slow but steady progress with customers (old and new) coming in for a feed and a quencher. As Lance mentioned, the new and improved Café Salsa has been revamped to allow "...customers to feel like they're on a holiday, a getaway, a resort." This seems to be no issue at all, given their spot being minutes away from the beachside. There is indoor and outdoor seating available, but the overall space is open and inviting, especially with the beautiful sea breeze aerating the café.
Contrary to what the name suggests, Café Salsa specializes in Italian cuisine, where customers can enjoy a meal at a place that allows them to be loud and happy, while basking in the funky vibes emanating from the interior design and décor of this place.
Head chef Joe Cazzetta has taken inspiration from his Italian heritage to create a brand new summer menu that incorporates vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian options. The menu is quite extensive, offering options of pizza, pasta, and more.
For drinks, the bar is well-equipped with options of delicious poison, so patrons can expect delicious and refreshing cocktails such as Salsa's Sun and Pimms (to name a few), which are ideal options to enjoy on a hot, summery day.
In the hopes of reviving their reputation and maintaining their popularity among the locals, Café Salsa also hosts degustation events every 2-3 months, where the menu undergoes a facelift and customers are invited to contribute their thoughts on what works (and what doesn't).
Breakfast is also a delicacy that can be enjoyed by customers on weekends, where options of Eggs Florentine, pancakes, and omelettes are available for dining. For those looking for a truly wholesome meal to start off the day, there's the Salsa Breakfast, which is an equivalent of the classic "Big Brekkie".
As part of the launch event, guests were treated to a range of dishes that are available on the menu. We were treated to appetizers, such as arancini balls with the chef's choice of fillings, which practically melted in my mouth and gave off a beautiful, smoky flavour. We also had a taste of the seaside with the white bait, which was subtle in its fishy taste and was served with tartare sauce on the side.
Next up, we were served samplers of the main dishes, which included the lemon pepper calamari, which is lightly dusted with lemon pepper flour and served with salad, parmesan, and fries. The meat was tender and when mixed with the veggies on the side, made for a filling dish. We also had a mushroom-based dish, such as the scallopini funghi with veal, sweet potato mash, vegetables, and creamy brandy mushroom sauce. The veal was juicy and generously drizzled with the sauce. While not a huge fan of potato mash in general, the addition of the mash to this dish was appropriate and thoroughly enjoyed.
Of course, what's an Italian restaurant without some pasta?! We were offered small serves of the gnocchi salsiccia, which comes with pork sausage, chilli, and tomatoes.The gnocchi was well-cooked and the tomato sugo brought out the rich flavours of the Italian herbs.
We also had the Pappardelle vegitana with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, capsicum, garlic, parsley, and chilli, sautéed with white wine and Napoletana sauce. Super healthy, super delicious, super filling!
No meal is complete without dessert (or maybe I just have a very strong sweet tooth)! Lucky for us, we tried not one but two signature desserts - the banana doughnuts, which are dusted in cinnamon sugar and are served over raspberry coulis. The banana doughnuts were soft and had silky chocolate filling within, which pretty much left a party in my mouth.
We also had panna cotta, which is served with slices of strawberry, and raspberry coulis. The panna cotta possessed just the right level of consistency and its sweetness level was subtle yet satisfying.
But the café doesn't stop there with the dining - their space is quite generous and offers customers with part of (or the whole) space that is available for functions, such as birthdays, engagements, weddings, Christenings, the works!
The customer service was impeccable - it was apparent from speaking to the owners (who were former workers under old ownership) that they are truly passionate about Café Salsa and want to turn this place around for the better. It is safe to say that the team has put in countless hours of hard work and has presented their customers with mouthwatering options of food and drink, in addition to bringing back vitality to West Beach.