It was the pizza that did it. Every time I've eaten at Sorci's Italian Cafe' and Enoteca in Sumner, Washington, I knew I should write a blog post about this place, but it was the pizza I had for lunch yesterday that finally sent me to my laptop to spread the word. I'd feel, well, selfish, if I didn't. Now I'm curious about all the things on the menu I haven't tried yet, things I might like even better than the pizza, if that's possible.
Owned by father and son, George and Jeremy Annillo, the cafe' is in the same building as the Vanlierop Garden Market, a block off Main Street, and I mean the quintessential "Main Street, U.S.A," running through a small town business district still so charming and vital it seems like an endangered species. My husband and I brought a friend along on the short drive from Tacoma, to shop for antiques and especially to have lunch at Sorci's. There's a reason they call it "your Rome away from Rome."
Our friend ordered a grilled panini filled with imported Italian rosemary-infused ham and buffalo mozzarella cheese. He sincerely loved it for the excellent choice it was, perfectly golden brown, seductive through and through. But when the pizza my husband and I ordered came to the table, he looked like a man at the altar about to marry his bride, but falling in love with a bridesmaid. It's so hard to be loyal at Sorci's. Don't worry. We shared, a little.
We'd ordered the Pizza Tutta, described in their menu as "mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, white cheddar, prosciutto, hot capicola, mushrooms and mama lil's hot goat peppers," all melted and delicately browned on an herb crust, not too thin or too crisp, but just the right degree of both aspects. I always wanted to try the pizza at Sorci's and it exceeded all expectations.
Now, of course, I want to try everything on the menu, so when Jeremy Annillo came over to our table to greet us I asked him, "If someone could only eat here once, what would you recommend to them?"
He didn't even hesitate. "The hand rolled gnocchi. We do a very different twist on it, no potatoes. We make it with fresh ricotta and Parmesan cheese and spinach," he said. I saw on the menu that it's served with a vodka sauce, one of my favorites.
Jeremy's smile and personality reflect the warmth and graciousness of the whole place and everyone who works there. "The reason we got into this business is because we love good food and good friends, everybody enjoying themselves. A meal should be more like an experience and not just something to be hurried through. And when we do private events here, that's when it's really fun. We feel like we're celebrating right along with the people." I suspect his graciousness and love of food came down through the family from his Italian grandparents.
Even Sorci's web site is an experience, where you can learn about those grandparents, the cafe's history, their catering, take-out including full family meals, the wine bar, special events like movie night, and the full menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is served until 4 pm. For an even more special "experience," the kind Jeremy loves to offer, you might want to let Sorci's plan a full course dinner for you and even pair it with the perfect wine.
Our simple lunch still felt like a special experience, one you can have too, any time. You could close your eyes, point a finger at the menu, choose anything and be happy. But in my mind, no matter how many delicious foods an Italian restaurant offers, if I keep coming back, "It was the pizza." Enjoy!