Café Pomigliano Restaurant Review


My wife and I were going to take out a group of clients to a local Libertyville restaurant so they had selected Cafe Pomigliano as their choice. All but one of the guests had never been to their new locale since it moved a few years ago and changed its name from Trattoria Pomigliano to Cafe Pomligiano.

The interior is new and modern and includes a bar at the north part of the restaurant. It’s very open for the most part, so it doesn’t have an intimate feel. Because of our larger group, it was quite difficult to hear everyone speaking at the table as the conversations from other tables nearby often bled into ours. Having said that, I’m thinking smaller groups of two or four may be seated closer together and not experience the same listening challenges as our group.

Some restaurants have a menu or board which displays their daily lunch or dinner specials but saw no display and none were mentioned during our visit. Are specials still offered at their new restaurant? No sure but regret not asking that night.

IMG_3163Once seated, our waiter took our drink order; he then brought bread, parmesan cheese and olive oil. The table could have used more bread to dip into the olive oil and cheese. One thing to note, many Italian restaurants also use Balsamic Vinegar (at the table) or Aceto Balsamico di Modena (very dark and intensely flavored vinegar) from Modena, Italy would have added a nice touch.

According to their dinner menu, pasta dishes ranged from $14-21 and traditional dishes ranged from $19-26. To the best of my knowledge, didn’t see any of the traditional dishes include a soup or salad — a side of minestrone or Caesar salad would incur an extra $5 fee.

I selected from the Tradizoni di Casa (traditional home dishes) and choose the Eggplant Parmigiana. It was well cooked, the eggplant and the homemade marinara sauce was delicious although I would have desired more eggplant and less cheese. It seemed to me that the cheese was thicker than the pieces of eggplant. Unbeknownst to me, the dish came with spiral pasta, although if I knew it did, I would have tried to upgrade to a side of cooked broccoli or spinach.

My wife chose from the Pasta Classico category and selected the Rigatoni Vodka. According to their website, this dish is made with Grandma’s Tomato Cream Sauce and Vodka. Unfortunately, the dish came out somewhat cold so she merely nibbled at it while helping to carry on the table’s conversation.

Our group of seven ordered either pasta or an item from the traditional dish menu. Three ordered soft drinks and two others had a glass of wine and beer. A few ordered a side salad but no one ordered coffee or desserts. The total came to $240 including tax and tip. A few more drinks and dessert could have pushed the bill on that Tuesday night close to $300.

IMG_3166I didn’t finish my side of pasta and my wife was too busy carrying the conversation to finish her Rigatoni Vodka. Our waiter quickly obliged as I nodded to use the same bowl for both dishes. Good news, he added both dishes to one carryout plate, bad news, he placed the pasta spirals on top of her dish. With two different sauces and pastas, it didn’t materialize how I imagined it would — the play would have been to separate them carefully within the bowl.

Some restaurant goers (who don’t necessarily like to walk) will be happy to see Cafe Pomigliano has plenty of parking nearby. Those individuals will no longer have to hunt for packing as the new restaurant has ample parking right next door. If things ever got out of hand, the Libertyville Police Department is steps away.

According to one online review done last year listed entrees from $13-38. A review done 5 years or so prior said prices were $8.25-25.85. Quick math says the entrée price increases are 37% and 32% respectively in a five-year period. Even if those prices are not exact, it shows the significant price increases over the last several years. The food may not be any better so are you paying a premium for convenient parking and a more modern ambience or both?

IMG_3160Their original name was Trattoria Pomigliano and were located on busy Milwaukee Ave. According to Wikipedia, a trattoria is an Italian-style eating-place with no printed menus, service is casual and prices are generally low. The original restaurant did have printed menus but the scene was casual, comfortable, delicious food with low prices. In lieu of our dining experience, it makes sense that they would drop ‘trattoria’ from their name. The only carryover I could see is they still had the original name printed on the sales receipt.

I hope they do well with their new location and prices. For indoor seating, I won’t be in a rush to return. There are so many other restaurant choices in downtown Libertyville with good food and a better dining value. However, with limited outdoor dining options in Libertyville, I may opt to dine on their outdoor patio when weather cooperates.