For many Americans, the concept of dining at specific times has dissolved away into a gradient of meals that span the entire day. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, midday snack, happy hour, dinner, after-dinner dessert, midnight snack: It's enough to make Pippin from Lord of the Rings
jealous of how many meals we have.
In Italy, that blurring of meal times hasn’t taken a strong foothold, and while meals may be delightfully long, they are much more rigid than what we see here in the States. Yet times are changing, and our cultures are mingling; what that means are culinary creations that have never existed before. Loveria Caffe is embracing these changes and bringing an Italian brunch that breaks all the rules.
Loveria Caffe is a hip, modern Italian spot in Colleyville. It's informal enough for a quick lunch, but upscale enough for a nice dinner. The menu is an extended mix on the usual pasta and braised meat suspects, but what sets it apart is the owner’s Italian American take on brunch.
While Loveria has been open for a year or two now, they started brunch only a few months back. While we certainly were not alone in the cafe while we dined, there were plenty of empty tables about.
Uova in Purgatorio
We were greeted and seated quickly and given a simple half sheet of a brunch menu. One side of the menu reflected the expected Italian dishes, such as handmade cappelletti pasta with housemade Bolognese sauce and gnocchi with Gorgonzola cream. On the other side is the true brunch menu. It's a simple list — only six items long with two cocktails, but seeing how Loveria is doing its part in paving the way for Italian brunch, the limited menu is understandably short.
Our group decided to go with the most unique items we could find on the brunch menu, avoiding plates like avocado toast ($11) and pancakes ($8.90) for their prevalence in the brunch scene.
Our first dish was the uova alla caprese, which is basically a caprese salad mixed in with eggs Benedict ($14). The entire ensemble was unique, albeit a bit rich. The English muffin has been replaced with focaccia bread, and the ham with slices of mozzarella and avocado. The combination of rich olive oil bread with full-fat mozzarella, buttery avocado and soft poached eggs was a calorie bomb. That's not to say it was bad, but in true Italian form, this dish is one that's best enjoyed over a long period of time, as to give one’s stomach a fighting chance at dealing with the situation. The tomato and basil in the mix did a decent job at adding some much-needed acidity and herbaceousness to the dish, and ultimately made the entire plate cohesive and one that we'd order again.
Next up was the uova in Purgatorio ($13), which was ordered mostly because eggs in Purgatory conjures up some hilarious mental images. The dish, however, is serious business with soft poached eggs in an unctuous marinara sauce. The dish is similar in nature to the Middle Eastern shakshuka and is served with points of toasted bread for dipping. The marinara sauce used as the base to cook the eggs is spiked with crispy shards of bacon and made fairly spicy with red pepper. It's a delightfully good dish to share around the table and was annihilated so quickly we had to order another.
Cappelletti al ragu
Lastly, we ordered the cappelletti al ragu ($11). It's available on both the brunch and lunch menu, but we had to know what it would be like to have pasta for breakfast. While the thought of eating ragu and loads of Parmesan cheese before 11 a.m. may sound like heartburn waiting to happen, it was delightful. The Loveria team makes its cappelletti in-house, filled with Parmigiano Reggiano and sauteed with a simple ragu sauce. It's a type of dish that truly benefits from being simple, and only having a few ingredients makes the meal shine. It's a tad bit on the heavy side, but seeing how it's brunch and we had a few hours to lie down afterward, it was worth it.
While eggs aren’t really a breakfast staple in Italy as much as they are here in the U.S., Loveria could fool the best of them. There isn’t much precedence on what an Italian brunch spot would look like, so they’re doing their best to lay the foundation for others behind them. Undoubtedly the brunch scene will be a different one in just a few years, and having prosecco mimosas and Italian espresso on a Sunday brunch may not be strange at all.
Loveria Caffe, 5615 Colleyville Blvd., Suite 410, Colleyville. 817-893-5880. Brunch served noon-2 p.m. Sunday.