The busy servers could qualify for the marathon as they dash from
table to table. Luigi's and the other sidewalk cafes are the heart of
We selected an inside table and began the difficult task of
choosing from the wide menu selections. Though breakfast is the thing
on weekends Downtown, today it was a robust sandwich for me -- mara
spread on ciabattta bread with soup or salad ($6.95). Ciabatta, which
means "slipper" bread, is a wide loaf with a soft interior and thin
crisp crust that has enough body to hold up to the sausage. The
citrus-flavored tomato marinara added just the right edge. It was
served on a plate with crisp romaine salad and the usual slices of
tomato, 'cukes and carrot slivers.
This good sausage is also served with penne pasta ($7.95) in a
fresh marinara sauce. It's an excellent choice for dinner with the
penne (Italian for quill/pen) diagonally cut smooth tubes, providing
a good contrast in texture.
Spaghettini Bolognese ($7.95) described as "the meatiest sauce in
town" was my friend's selection -- a heavy Italian ceramic dinner
plate piled with slender threads of pasta and covered with a thick
tomato sauce. This is "surfer"-sized with the good taste of home
cooking. Garlic bread ($3.95) is extra as is bruschetta ($5.95)
though a complimentary basket would have been nice.
We never can resist dessert, and here it is very special,
patterned after the Bendi originals, which were created and served in
1946 in downtown Milan. Tartufo ($6.50) was one we shared, a round
ball of "fantasy" creams covered with soft chocolate cream and rolled
in chopped praline nuts served on a scrolled plate dusted with
The chocolate cup is another dessert that chocoholics will love --
it has a cocoa sponge cake base with a hint of rum, which is topped
with creamy chocolate mousse and chocolate chips. These fancy
desserts come from a purveyor and are not usually on the menu of
small street cafes.
Luigi is a "tucked away" cafe next to Starbucks that can be passed
by, but linger awhile to enjoy some excellent food by chef Artemio.
The rather arty interior has one mirrored wall, the other with large
prints. Bright yellow cloths on glass-topped tables for four make a
cheerful dining room on a sunny autumn day.
* MARY FURR is the Independent restaurant critic. Reach her at