Whether you’re impressed by the authentic wood-burning stone fireplace, the fresh panini sandwiches or the opportunity to sample exclusive wines, Café Caturra in Cary is unlike any other restaurant in the Western Wake area. Consider it a distinctive fast-casual wine bar concept, only with great food and coffee added to the mix.
“Our goal is to provide a relaxed environment where you control your own destiny,” said directing partner Nathan Bartlett, who explained that the Cary locale is the second Café Caturra store to open outside the original market of Richmond, Va. (the other is situated in Raleigh’s Cameron Village). “We desire to be a community hub where people can come hang out and feel comfortable.”
Many patrons grab a cup of hand-roasted coffee and use the café’s free Wi-Fi Internet connection. Others go for a full meal that includes several glasses of wine. Either way, lingering is encouraged and expected. “We’re the place where you can stay as long as you want and not feel pressure to give up your seat or table,” Bartlett said.
Ordering protocol is refreshingly different. Bartlett explained that guests can taste wine, place their order at the counter, and then sit down and let the café staff take care of the rest. “It’s not your traditional dining experience,” he said. “We call it pampered service.”
Café Caturra offers a boutique selection of white and red wine from all over the world. “We advise people to taste different wines to see what they like,” Bartlett said. “We offer 25 wines by the glass. We want people to be adventurous and try something they may never have had before.”
Elegant varietals from Spain, France, Italy and elsewhere are available, and wine is kept at just the right temperature in the café’s environmentally controlled storage system. This ensures that the whites stay crisp and the reds remain rich. “We are really passionate about wine, and we’re constantly educating our staff and customers,” Bartlett said.
Among the tempting food selections, the made-from-scratch soups stand apart. The satisfying options include: roasted red pepper goat cheese bisque; tomato basil with brie; Thai chicken noodle; curry chicken and green apple; and maple habanero chili.
Main course options are manifold, whether you choose a gourmet salad (think raspberry walnut), a specialty sandwich served on bread from nearby La Farm Bakery or a homemade Neapolitan-style pizza baked in a wood-fired oven. “The goal of our cuisine is simple, fresh food,” Bartlett explained.
A wine fair menu section contains items like pan-seared crab cake sliders, delectable mini burgers and heirloom tomato penne pasta. Generally served during evening hours, the wine fair features several plates that are ideal for sharing. An impressive meat and cheese board, for example, features hand-cut meats, artisan cheeses, fruit and olives and is sizable enough for at least two people.
A healthy alternative to the caloric end-of-meal splurge comes in the form of mini desserts. “These are about the size of a golf ball — just enough to get some sweetness on your palate,” Bartlett said. Priced at only $1.50 each, you can’t go wrong with a chocolate torte or crème brûlée.
When it comes to décor, Café Caturra’s reclaimed wood tables, leather banquettes and local artwork provide just the right touches of warmth and stylishness for customers to enjoy. “The art is a collection of one-of-a-kind originals, and all pieces are available for sale,” said Bartlett.
For dinner at sunset or under the stars when weather permits, outdoor seating is available on the restaurant’s large, striking patio.
Cafe Caturra is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are not accepted. “It’s first come, first served,” Bartlett revealed. Groups of eight or more are encouraged to call ahead.
600 Ledgestone Way (Stone Creek Village), Cary