|Giulia and Joe DeLuca|
I mentioned in my inaugural column I’ve tended to stick close to home in terms of eating out. So when the Hamiltonian’s Publisher, Teresa DiFalco, suggested we have an initial meeting to discuss the idea of a food and wine column at a Stoney Creek location I had to actually consult the GPS!
In 20 minutes or so I found myself down the QEW (or “Highway Q” as the GPS voice insists on calling it) at 387 Barton Street, Barbara Caffé. The meeting with Teresa was delightful, and even more so as we were served an attractive antipasto platter to nibble on.
The platter featured prosciutto, salami and “giardiniera” (pickled cauliflower, peppers and spicy eggplant), 3 cheeses, including a lovely tomato bocconcini, all accompanied by a tasty fresh bruschetta. Oh, there were olives too, although I’m generally not a fan.
As we sketched out what I might write about, I took in the surroundings, including the colourful mural. (Take a look at the photo of Teresa and I in her intro, or travel down to the Caffé.) The business began as a gift shop almost 24 years. Founder Joe DeLuca still runs things, with the assistance of daughter Giulia, and the vibe is clearly one of regulars dropping by.
That’s hardly surprising since, shortly after it opened, the shop quickly became a hangout for Joe’s friends. Being a hospitable sort, he made them coffee. It wasn’t long before a few tables were added to accommodate a growing clientele. In turn beans, and a few other deli items, were stocked for sale.
Giulia relates how her Mother used to make her school lunches in the back of the shop. Apparently the smells were so tantalizing customers clamoured for sandwiches to be added to the offerings. As a result, larger premises were required, so they eventually moved into a bigger location next door, and the current business was born.
Now they have a full display of fresh cakes and pastries and, in addition to serving meals to their loyal, regular clientele, Giulia says they also do a great deal of catering for weddings, stag parties, private dinners and other functions.
On Thursdays and Fridays, weather permitting, the barbeque is on outside the Caffé. Giulia’s Nonno (Joe’s father) still makes the sausage that is charcoal grilled along with other meats like chicken burgers and lamb spedini. (I didn’t get to try any as I was leaving, but the smell of the sausage was delicious.) See additional photo's of Barbara Caffe here.
To learn more about the menu see the review by Dan Kislenko in the Spectator ten months ago. I hope reading the review will also help illustrate how Food for Thought will differ from other restaurant reviews: As I said in my first column, in addition to talking about the food, I’ll try to give more of a flavour (no pun intended) of the places I visit, along with some back story about the parties involved.
At the end of March I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days doing “research” for future columns at the “Food and Drink Fest” held in Hamilton. There is much going on in our region: I believe Hamilton has considerable potential for being at the epicenter of a much needed culinary renaissance in the “905”.
More on that in future columns.