Words and photos by Fatema Sitabkhan
After 8 months of transitioning within the management, Café Salsa on West Beach has re-launched to bring back a sense of vitality to the beachside. New owners Lance, Tanya, and Natalie were once wait staff of this cute Italian joint, but upon seeing the place go downhill, decided to revive it with their unique individualistic twist on it. Chef Joe Cazzetta has also come on board to produce delicious, gourmet meals that are inspired from his own Italian background.
The décor of the café is very tropical and holiday-like. Bamboo stemmed “walls”, vintage collectables from the golden era of the 60s-70s, and unique combination of mismatched chairs and tables replicate the retro and funky vibes of the café, just as the owners like it!
Indoor and outdoor seating is available, although there is a lot of natural light and seabreeze that is invited into the café, giving it a homey and welcoming atmosphere. Its location of being minutes from the beachside gives it the extra edge and provides its customers with lots of option of light and wholesome meals, along with refreshing cocktails.
As part of the re-launch, guests were started off with appetizers such as arancini balls and white bait. The arancini balls were soft, warm, and left a tickle in our mouths for more. The white baits were subtle in their fishy taste and when coupled with the tartare sauce, worked out to be a treat! Next, we sampled from their mains menu and of course, no Italian restaurant is complete without their pasta dishes! There are options such as Gnocchi Salsiccia, Pappardelle Vegitana, and Cassarecce Granchio (to name a few). Each dish comes with a combination of simple but complementary ingredients with a touch of Italian herbs and spices to bring out maximum flavour.
Want to stay off the carbs? How about some lemon pepper calamari, which resonates with flavours from the seaside. Lightly dusted in salt and pepper and served with veggies and topped with parmesan cheese, this made for a filling dish. There are also mushroom-friendly dishes, such as the stuffed mushroom and the Scallopini Funghi. Yummy, great for those looking for healthy and alternative options to meat, and simply delectable for the tastebuds.
For those looking to have a feast with friends, there are pizzas! From the Seaside (prawns and calamari) to the Calabrese (mozzarella, pork sausage, kale, and provolone) – there’s something for everyone.
Café Salsa also offers breakfast services on weekends, where customers can enjoy from the likes of Eggs Florentine with salmon, pancakes, omelettes, and even a Salsa Breakfast, which comes with sausages, bacon, eggs, and baked beans.
Saving the best for last, we enjoyed two kinds of dessert. The signature Café Salsa dessert – the banana doughnuts with cinnamon sugar dusting – gave us the sweet, sweet surprise of a silky and smooth chocolate filling hiding within. We also tried the Panna Cotta, which had just the right level of jiggle (and consistency). Both desserts were served with raspberry coulis, which gave off a tangy and strong taste, but didn’t overpower the sweet dishes.
Café Salsa is so much more than a café or a restaurant – they also have a fully licensed bar, which is stocked with all the right kinds of alcohol. Cocktails by the beach? Yes, please! We tried the Salsa Sun and Pimms Jugs and we were left in a subtle state of buzzing happiness.
The space itself is big enough to have functions as well – birthdays, weddings, Christenings – you name it, they can probably do it! Just get in touch with one of the friendly staff members there and they’ll be able to sort something out for you!