PICTURED: Breakfast lasagna with spinach, prosciutto cotto and béchamel marinara, topped with a fried egg. Photo by Kateri Wozny
by Kateri Wozny
Immigrant Son Caffé
543 E. Main St., Ventura
There’s a new Italian-American restaurant in Downtown Ventura that just opened up to welcome in the new year. I had passed by the site (still under construction) during Winter Wine Walk in December, so when I heard Immigrant Son Caffé was opening in January, I knew I was in for a hearty treat.
The place was hopping on a Sunday! Owner Alessandro Tromba, whose nickname was “the immigrant son” growing up in Molise, Italy, told me it was the busiest day the restaurant has had so far . . . and for good reason! The food is from scratch, the service is friendly and for Tromba, it’s all about having his customers sharing stories, creating memories and enjoying a good meal.
The restaurant business runs long and strong in Tromba’s family. Immigrant Son was created to pay homage to Tromba’s father, Giovanni, owner of Bistro 13 in Camarillo. Tromba also owns El Rey Cantina in Ventura (he sold the Camarillo location a few years back).
My friend and I were seated at a high-top marbled table with comfy chairs and immediately felt like family. Tromba walked around to each table to make a personal connection with his customers more than once. Looking around the restaurant, it is filled with Italian flags hanging from the ceiling along with Italian posters and artwork, and blue wainscoting abounds.
We started out with a cup of coffee ($3.50). Tromba told me that he partnered with the Santa Barbara Roasting Company to create what an Italian coffee might taste like. It was a nice, light roast with a strong finish — I definitely woke up!
Our first food item was the most popular appetizer, the Bacon Flight ($7), consisting of smoked applewood, jalapeño, pancetta, parmesan and garlic, and honey sesame flavors. So which one was my favorite? They were all delicious, but hands down were the honey sesame and jalapeño. It’s a sweet ‘n’ savory thing for me.
Up next was the Eggs Benedict Molise ($15). There are five different versions of eggs Benedict, and my Molise was filled with small but hearty bites of prosciutto parma, diced pancetta and poached eggs topped with parsley and a light homemade hollandaise sauce. This was perfection: not too salty and just the right amount of sauce. There was also a side of fruit and potatoes. The fruit was super fresh (my friend remarked that the strawberries were sweet and tasted amazing for it being winter) and beautifully presented, and the potatoes had the perfect amount of crunch and seasoning.
We were in for a treat with the San Francisco Sourdough French Toast ($10). I’ve never had French Toast with sourdough bread and I was hooked at first bite. The maple syrup had hints of vanilla and the bread slices soaked it right up.
The Homemade Breakfast Lasagna ($15) was a first for me, with spinach and prosciutto cotto in a béchamel marinara sauce, all topped with a fried egg. That sweet marinara sauce is what really made this dish extra special.
Finally, Maicho’s Morning Carbonara ($14) with rigatoni, egg, pecorino romano and parmesan cheese. You can even substitute the rigatoni for gluten-free penne. This was the perfect blend of cheese and it wasn’t too heavy on the Alfredo sauce.
Hours are currently 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. A variety of other breakfast plates, omelettes, sandwiches, hot dishes, salads, juices, beer and wine are also served. Business partner Matt Coulter said that they hope to introduce a dinner menu in the second or third quarter of the year.
Something extra special I was handed on my way out was Tromba’s grandmother’s homemade pizzelle, a waffle cookie pressed in an iron. I felt that I was adopted into the Tromba family by the time I left. Benvenuti!
Kateri Wozny is a foodie who loves savoring the latest dishes around the 805. Follow her on Instagram @kitkatwozny.