A few nights ago I went out for one of my weekly dinners with Uncle Jim.
It’s always a back and forth for where to go because we have so many amazing restaurants in the Wyoming Valley. Virtually every type of cuisine is available, the portions are generous, and the ambiences are generally divine.
That evening, we sat down at Café Toscana in downtown Wilkes-Barre, which I’ve frequented occasionally since I started working downtown over a decade ago.
I love the sense of community inside, the always accommodating staff and the food. Oh, the food.
My favorite dish is the Chicken Verona with its mushrooms, prosciutto and mozzarella topped with a dark sauce. I love it and order it the most every time I’m there.
For years, when I had lunch there, the gondola was my favorite dish: homemade four-cheese and spinach ravioli in a delicate cream with a touch of tomato sauce. I can’t tell you how many delicious lunches I devoured.
But back to dinner.
My partner had lasagna, my mom had salmon, uncle had chicken parmigiana, and my cousin had something I can’t remember, but all of them finished their plates. It is rare for such a feat to occur.
And they are also large plates. When I say the portions are generous, I really mean it.
Although it was a quiet night at the Italian restaurant, I have been there many times where it is very busy and bustling from the bar in the back room.
It’s so good to see, especially at a time when its neighbors have closed.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how heartbroken I was with the closure of Bronco’s Vault. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get enough people into the business to support it.
City Market & Café, a short walk away, also closed last week. It was the same thing: people weren’t coming like they were before the pandemic when big businesses operated from downtown.
Now many are working from home. While this is great for many people’s working conditions and safety, it hurts our friends who are trying to make a living operating these restaurants.
Luckily for my friend Christian, the owner of City Market & Café, he has another fabulous place and restaurant on the Dallas Memorial Highway that I’ll be sure to go to more often.
I hope all these restaurants can continue.
Although I know we are far from out of the pandemic, we are also resilient and supportive.
Restaurants contribute greatly to our culture and our community; I sincerely believe that they are necessary to keep relationships intact and to give us all a sense of relaxation.
Also, where would Uncle Jim and I go to dinner if those restaurants weren’t there?
Wrapping up this week, thanks to Café Toscana for another wonderful meal and experience.
Experience, service and fine cuisine are valued more than you might think.
Mike McGinley is a Times Leader columnist who is often referred to as a man of the city. Email him your thoughts at [email protected]