Drop The Knife: Caffe Tosca (Healthy Twists on Classic Favs)

Depending upon the type of diner you are, you either love or loathe the fact that the menu here remains constant – with seasonal dishes sprinkled in – and most of us can see the menu in our minds, not needing to really even look at it when we walk in. The thing is, we know a lot of local residents that would start a riot if their favorite dish was replaced. Example? During our recent GNO (yep – just the girls!), we heard the folks at the table next to us exclaim that they have been dreaming of the Caffe Tosca Chicken Parmesan (which they order every single time, apparently) since the last time they had it just a few weeks ago – and, they order it every. single. time.

That said, I am seasonal girl and I had to jump right in to the seasonal dishes that Chef offers when the menu switches up a bit as the temperatures, and seasons, change (like, when it becomes FREAKIN’ FREEZING overnight). The Roasted Corn Soup was calling my name (because I am a roasted corn addict – we make our vegan CK Creamy Corn Chowder on the regular and I never, ever don’t order some for myself) and it was everything it said it would be: a little spicy, sweet and herbaceous. The soup is confirmed to be gluten-free (at press time we are still waiting to confirm if it is dairy-free as well so, watch our IG stories for updates!) so, our GF clients and friends are going to want to go straight for the soup to start.

We also wanted to try the Sweet Potato Ravioli (seasonal addition as well) and substituted the “angry marinara” for the featured sage butter sauce to lighten it up a bit. The filling is delicious and we wanted more…but, that handmade pasta that surrounds it is perfect so, it is a nice balance of texture and flavor. Sweet potato and sage is a classic combo so, I can imagine that the dish, as listed, is the way to go for the nights you are living in that 20% of the 80/20 rule of moderation & indulgence.

The pizzas at Caffe Tosca range from $16-18 but, they are the size of an ENTIRE large sheet pan and perfect for sharing (or having leftovers for yourself). Plus, the crust is thin, the ingredients are fresh and you can literally taste the housemade goodness (which you are not going to get from the $5 frozen pizza or chain delivery options). So, your $18 pizza is going to make you very happy (and your kids very happy, when they find your leftovers in the fridge the next morning – so HIDE IT).

You can totally (and, literally) “go big or go home” here with the classic favs like the enormous Double Breasted Chicken Parmesan or you can keep it light and healthy by mixing, matching and being mindful of sauces and dressing options (see below for our fav healthy twists on the menu).

The atmosphere at this local institution is lively and truly a “neighborhood” vibe (you will see your neighbors, the football coach and your daughter’s friend’s mom before the door closes behind you) and you will see your favorite bartender make eye contact and attentively take your order if you have to wait for a table (we suggest making reservations on the weekends). The menu is classic and refined enough for a quiet date night, too.

Disclaimer: we have lived here 15 years and, as regular diners at Caffe Tosca, have known GM, Chris Jule, forever and can honestly say he is one of the best, hardest working guys around. So, before we even order, we love it every time. Because we love Chris. Everyone loves Chris.

If you are looking for a solid dining experience without having to leave the ‘hood’, drop YOUR knife and give Chris a call to reserve your favorite table (corner by the window, right?) and leave a review of your own on the restaurant website to be automatically entered to win a $500 gift card for sharing your experience to enjoy this holiday season (deadlines, rules and more info right HERE).

So, how we do Caffe Tosca “CK style” and indulge in healthy options with a whole lot of flavor as we scan the classic menu offerings and seasonal specials? Here are a few suggestions:

– Order the Roasted Acorn Squash or Seasonal Salad to start (and ask for the dressing on the side) to get your plant power going from the minute you sit down.

– Choose 2 sides and skip the carbs by enjoying the Mama DeCarli’s Meatballs and Grilled Broccolini (one of our favorite veggies to infuse the wood-smoky flavor) as your meal.

– Substitute the Angry Marinara for featured creamy or buttery sauces almost on any pasta dish (as we did with the seasonal ravioli as mentioned above) and save a little indulgence for cocktails or dessert. Tomatoes are an awesome source of lycopene, vitamin C and antioxidants and, we need all of the antioxidants we can get as cold and flu season sets in.

– Channel your inner pescatarian and try the Grilled Salmon or Roasted Local Cod – add even more plant power by topping either dish with a side of Wild Mushrooms. Both dishes are fresh, bright and clean. The roasted tomato broth surrounding the Cod is the perfect vehicle to soak up the shredded zucchini, too. It’s been one of our favorite dishes for years (see above for the health benefits of tomatoes) and it is filling AND light (which isn’t easy to do).

– Eat your greens and get your “splurge on” by ordering the Beet Salad and a side of Truffle & Parmigiano Fries (these do not require the extra sugar or calories in ketchup or the added fat of an aioli – they are SO GOOD just as they are).

– If you are looking for a gluten-free dish (aside from the salads and seafood (and steak/chicken) options listed above), order the Mushroom Risotto side and top it with a side order of Grilled Asparagus & a side order of Wild Mushrooms. Its super filling and you get that wood-smoke flavor from the veggies in every bite.

Caffe Tosca is located at 15 North Street in Hingham, MA. To make reservations or to place take-out orders, call the Caffe at 781-740-9400.

Photo credit: Caffe Tosca website (corn soup is ours!)