East Idaho Eats: Cafe Tuscano Set To Double Access To Its Italian Classic

POCATELLO – What started as a Blimpie sandwich shop at the back of a Chevron gas station is now home to delicious Italian cuisine, which will soon double in size.

Café Tuscano comes from humble beginnings, serving its first fine Italian dishes in what was sandwich kitchen almost 10 years ago. Now, several expansions later, the gas pumps and canopy are gone, interior construction is underway, and hearty pizza, pasta, and other delicious Italian offerings are the only fuel options you’ll find.

For nearly a decade, the staff at Café Tuscano have survived ad-free, chef Jason Spence told EastIdahoNews.com, relying on word of mouth and the guarantee that “You’re never going to come in. in a gas station and eat like that. . “

“Now,” Spence continued, “going forward without having the gas station is, ‘you’re never going to eat like that in Pocatello.’ And that is our goal.

Entrance to the Tuscano café. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

Spence got his start as a chef in Southeast Idaho, starting as a diver before making his way into many local cuisines and taking the Culinary Arts program at Idaho State University.

The aim of the restaurant and its chef is to offer all who enter an authentic Italian meal. And, at least to some extent, Spence can take comfort in the greatest compliments in this regard – having had his food compared to the traditional cuisine of customers’ grandmothers on at least a few occasions.

“We just want to be one of them that when you come to Pocatello and have (our food) – there’s nowhere else you will get (this food),” he said. declared.

One of the ways Spence and the staff at Café Tuscano have created their menu is the annual menu update. Once a year, Spence deletes the less popular posts and finds new ways to strengthen what’s left. It does this by posting specials, then tweaking and republishing them months later.

When re-issuing, he visits customers who have tried the item and asks them how they could improve it. Asking what a customer likes, he says, elicits praise, while asking for reviews helps to be honest.

“We are always aiming to improve,” he said. “We still want to deliver what people are used to, and we want to go beyond that in the future.”

The future is near for Café Tuscano.

As Spence explained, the interior remodel will be completed and the restaurant will be ready for a grand reopening on August 1, 2022. The remodel will include an extension of the kitchen and service areas, but also in the dining room, which will pass. from 99 seats to about 160, Spence said.

Renovation of the Tuscano café
Interior construction underway to expand Café Tuscano. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

That target date is way beyond what normal circumstances suggest, but, Spence joked, nothing is normal in 2021. Setting their date so far into the future allows the restaurant to adjust to any delays and manage said delays in the most efficient way possible. .

“We just want to make sure that we give ourselves enough time to finish whatever we want to finish,” he said. “It could be earlier, if everything goes perfectly, but in today’s world, very little goes perfectly.”

And as for the celebration of the reopening, Spence said discussions are open between restaurant executives, but there is still time before a decision is made.

“We’re definitely looking to do something special,” he said. “It’s written in pencil on a notepad, we just haven’t gone into the details yet. “

Café Tuscano Saltimbocca Pork | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

“We are looking to present more things and bring more attention to Pocatello,” he added.

Café Tuscano is located at 2231, rue Center Est, near the Portneuf Medical Center. It is open Monday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Orders can be placed for pickup, but delivery is not available at this time. The menu can be viewed on the restaurant website Where Facebook page.

If you would like to make a recommendation for the next destination to include on East Idaho Eats, email [email protected] and include “EATS” in the subject line.

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