Héloïse Schep
EaTuscany’s case of homemade gelato and menu are displayed at the back of the restaurant.

Do you find yourself craving Italian foods but sick of having to choose between big, generic pizza chains or extremely expensive restaurants? Do you want to go somewhere authentic, but not too expensive, with a variety of Italian cuisine?

If so, EaTuscany (1801 L St.)  is the place.

EaTuscany is a small, family-owned Italian restaurant. Open for around a year, the restaurant is owned by Stefania Zerbinati, who moved to California from Italy a few years ago and is helped by her relatives and a few employees.

My family and I visited on a Saturday night (the restaurant is closed on Sundays), a relatively busy time for the restaurant. All the tables were filled.

The first thing you should know if you plan on visiting EaTuscany is its size. The restaurant is more like a small living room. There are only five tables, each of which fits three or four people. The kitchen, which is partially visible from the seating area, takes up about half of the restaurant.

The restaurant does take reservations, and I recommend making one if you are visiting on Friday and Saturday nights after 7 p.m.

However, the minimalist interior design makes the space seem much bigger.

The walls are covered in white tiles, and the tables and chairs are white as well. The space is extremely clean yet contains some authentic touches, such as the Italian wines, chocolate and spices that fill the shelves.

Héloïse Schep
A heap of steaming penne pasta with fresh pesto, tomatoes and cheese

The second thing you should know about is the staff. As mentioned earlier, EaTuscany is run by an Italian family and hires only a few employees – on an average night, there are only three or four people working there.

Yet the staff is extremely friendly and helpful. They know every item on the menu and are willing to explain anything.

Lastly, the ordering system can be a bit confusing. You order and pay at the cashier’s desk at the back of the restaurant whenever you choose, though menus and dishes are brought to your table.

I ordered three items as a main meal to share with my parents: the pasta of the day ($9.50), the soup of the day ($7.50), and a pizza square ($6).

But the restaurant also offers a wide variety of pizzas, cheese and meat plates, paninis, pastas, soups, salads, ice creams and pastries.

The pasta of the day was a simple and light penne with fresh pesto and cheese ($9.50) It wasn’t a particularly adventurous dish, but it was full of flavor and extremely fresh. At first, it seemed like there was too much pesto, but it ended up really complementing the pasta, making it the perfect amount.

The soup of the day was a tomato soup with bread, spices and parmesan cheese. It was served in a deep plate, and it was really hot.

Upon further inspection, I saw that the soup was filled with beige globs. “Wait, what…” I thought to myself. “Is this really what I ordered?”

But if there is one thing I’ve learned during my previous visits to EaTuscany, it’s not to judge a food based on what it looks like.

Héloïse Schep
A tomato-anchovies pizza square with capers

Though every dish at EaTuscany is presented beautifully, the cooks use many authentic Italian ingredients or recipes you wouldn’t be familiar with.

So I ate a big spoonful of the soup. And it was amazing.

The globs turned out to be seasoned chunks of bread. Tasting like a combination of meatballs and bread, they made the soup heartier and more filling.

And the soup itself was extremely flavorful and creamy.

Lastly, I tried my pizza square. I chose a tomato-anchovies square with capers. One thing that can be surprising about EaTuscany’s pizzas is the distinction between the round pizzas and the pizza squares.

The pizza squares are smaller, have a thick, bread-like crust and taste more like a baked focaccia bread with toppings than an actual pizza.

The round pizzas are more traditional: thin-crusted and bigger.

I loved the combination of the anchovies and tomatoes on my pizza square. The texture was great: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was definitely my favorite.

But most people at EaTuscany that evening came for the gelato, which is handmade by the owners every day. EaTuscany’s pistachio gelato, which I tried during an earlier visit, even won a Best Of Sacramento 2016 Award! EaTuscany usually has about 10 gelato flavors, and they tend to change every day.

So for dessert I naturally chose ice cream.

(Photo used by permission of Héloïse Schep)
One of EaTuscany’s homemade almond and apricot cookies.

First, I sampled two of their special holiday flavors (you are allowed two free samples), peppermint and eggnog. The peppermint ice cream was very fresh and minty. It wasn’t a very sweet ice cream, which I liked. However, the eggnog flavor was a little too sweet and caramel-like.

One of the employees recommended I combine the peppermint ice cream with their Nutella ice cream, which was a total success. The minty and light flavors of the peppermint ice cream ensured the Nutella ice cream wasn’t too sweet or heavy. It was like the perfect peppermint-bark ice cream.

I also tried one of their cookies, whose flavors, like the ice cream, change nearly every day. On that day, the cookie was almond-flavored, like biscotti, but softer and filled with dried apricots.

The cookie was full of flavor, but too rich – I had to share it with my family even though it was only a few inches wide.

I’d recommend EaTuscany to anyone who is looking for adventurous Italian food at a low price – or if you’re just looking for a great scoop of gelato!

By Héloïse Schep

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