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Pane indulges tastebuds

The quaint Italian exterior appeals to customers as they walk through the double doors leading into the interior of one Fresno’s most anticipated new restaurant.

Piazza Del Pane, located at the corner of Cedar and Nees, was under construction for so long that many residents doubted that the restaurant would ever open.

Eager patrons have waited for over a year for the restaurant to finish construction. After its grand opening, guests began arriving in droves.

When you enter the restaurant, thoughts of an Italian country villa come to mind. Thick red curtains hang from the tall windows. Comfortable patrons lounge in overstuffed easy chairs in front of a fire. Light streams in from the skylights, illuminating the dark, crisscrossing beams that leave curious patterns on the floor.

“The interior was really cute,” Danae Cook, ’05, said. “Pane is a place I would want to go back to. The atmosphere was great and, it was very clean.”

Pane offers a wide variety of menu choices. Sandwiches, steaks, soups and salads are their specialty, although they also carry an array of warm bakery items, such as bagels, croissants and fruit filled pastries. Pizza is yet another option; they are a little pricy ($8.50-9.50), but are perfect for splitting with two or three friends, as they are quite large.

All the pasta plates and most of the sandwiches take a while to make, so I wouldn’t suggest ordering any of them when you have only a short time for lunch. According to employees, Pane is very busy during the lunch hour, but patrons can order any soup, salad or pastry and still not run out of time. The chicken salad, tuna salad or roasted turkey and avocado sandwiches also promise a speedy delivery.

Although Pane is not the most ideal spot for school lunch periods, it is perfect for an after (or before) school get-together with friends. Pane is sure to be a new hotspot with its relaxed, but slightly formal, atmosphere.

Pane’s specialty drinks, such as mochas and cappuccinos, are near to the prices of Starbucks’ coffees. All coffee and coffee drinks are ground from Peets Co. coffee grounds.

“I bought a chocolate and caramel blended coffee when I visited,” Cook said. “It was okay, but it didn’t live up to its expensive price.”

Pane’s pride and joy is their homemade ice cream, or gelato, as the Italians call it. It is creamy and very rich like ice cream, but has much more flavor. Flavors like caramel, banana, orange, berry, pistachio, cherry, coconut, lemon, mint, tiramisu and vanilla are available. Flavors are subject to change day to day.

“I’m really excited about having a restaurant nearby that serves gelato,” Brianne Raymer, ’06, said. “I got a coffee when I went, and it was very good. The interior was warm and inviting; I’d love to go back.”

My personal menu favorites are the minestrone soup and the Caesar salad. Both were excellent; the Caesar salad was actually the best I have ever had. The soup sells for $4.95, and a full order of salad is $5.50 ($3.75 for the half order). I also tried the orange flavored gelato, which was exceptional.

Pane tends to run more on the expensive side, but all food is gourmet-level and well worth the money. For more information on Piazza Del Pane, call 436-1076. Pane is owned by the same folks who operate some of the Me N’ Eds restaurants in the Fresno area.

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