Ca’Dario, in our humble opinion, has never really lost the buzz that it earned all those years ago, when it first started offering Italian food on the corner of Victoria and Anacapa. And that’s not just our opinion, that’s the general vibe at an early-week lunch, which is just overflowing with people. Ca’Dario, although going on 13 years, never opened the bar section (four seats) until late 2008.
Manager Danny Chisholm is the man making our cocktails today, and he says most people sit at the bar when waiting for a table. But here’s where they discover what we did: the bar affords a great view of the magical Ca’Dario kitchen and the plate-assembling area. We got pretty hungry watching pastas, salads and meat dishes pass by with their finishing touches. Nothing to do but have some cocktails.
Ca’Dario keeps its selection small and traditional, with interesting twists and quality ingredients. And it tries to keep the Italian vibe going.
The Ruby Red Martini is a mix of Absolut Ruby Red, grapefruit juice and Aperol (an Italian aperitif), resulting in a lovely orange-y glow to the drink. It also tastes quite lovely, with that slight bitterness of the grapefruit, but floral and light. Very much a winner with us, we wanted to know what else Chisholm had in store.
The Negroni is owner Dario Furlati’s favorite cocktail, and recently it’s become one of ours. Campari turns out to be great for the stomach before or after a meal, and with the classic combo of gin and vermouth, it’s a great traditional Italian cocktail. Ca’Dario uses Plymouth Gin, which really makes a difference. The drink seems lighter and redder, too.
Now we’ve had lemon drops a lot here and there, but we were curious how Ca’Dario would make theirs. They use Grey Goose vodka to start…good, and then Caravella limoncello for the lemon flavor… also good. And topping it off with the fizzy San Pellegrino Limonata just gives it a zing. This is a very good, very subtle cocktail.
All this made our final decision very hard. But after some arm and thumb wrestling, we decided to go with the Ruby Red Martini, something to look forward to while you wait for your meal. It’s our Drink of the Week!
RUBY RED MARTINI
1 part Absolut Ruby Red
1 part Grapefruit juice
1 part Aperol
Mix, shake over ice and pour into martini glass
37 E. Victoria St.