Even if you haven’t been by in a while, the aroma greeting you at Toscana Cafe is instantly familiar. Mmm, focaccia!
Baked that morning, its rosemary-yeasty scent still strong by evening, the bread is one of many from-scratch foods that have made Daniele Catalani’s Italian takeout a go-to in the near-Northeast neighborhood.
Catalani opened the eatery a year ago in a converted townhouse just east of Union Station. His setup is unconventional: You enter via the kitchen, place your order with whoever is standing by (often, it’s a cook making eye contact), then watch the meal come together.
About a dozen seats fill the second floor, but most orders get rushed out the door (in well-insulated plastic carryalls). Which is just how Catalani planned it: “At lunchtime the place is more like a deli. I wanted to drive that concept through to dinner. I wanted people who don’t have time to sit down to have an option.”