Many of us have heard of the fine Italian restaurant on South Quarry Street, Gola Osteria. Personally, I have never been because it just looks super fancy, and after looking up its menu online, I found out that it actually is super fancy! Fortunately, the owners of Gola Osteria have brought quick and convenient European-style cuisine to Collegetown through the opening of Café Gola.
After hearing about the nearby location, I decided to see what this new café was all about. Honestly, I was told it served coffee, and I have a gravitational pull to all things caffeine. It took me a while to fit this dining exploration into my schedule because it’s open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and although I’ve considered waking up super early to go there, it has never happened.
Before venturing out to this new eatery, beware — simply looking up the address and wandering around Dryden Road will not help you find the café. It is actually located in the Breazzano Family Center, which I realized after walking up and down Dryden a couple of times and just happening to glance inside.
I walked in and made my way to the café, which is really just a counter with a pink espresso machine, a case of pre-made sandwiches and a panini press. A stack of pink menus revealed a limited but unique selection of both sweet and savory paninis, a couple of salad options, assorted pastries, smoothies and coffee drinks. Among the lunch offerings, my picky food associate could not find a panini that suited him and thus settled for a cup of brewed coffee. I, on the other hand, ordered a sandwich with artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and goat cheese. The server took the one I chose out of the case and put it on the panini press. My total was $9.72, which was a little too expensive for a sandwich and prevented me from getting a cup of coffee with it.
My associate and I went to the downstairs area of the center, since there was no seating right outside of the café. He took a sip of his coffee, made a mildly disgusted face and pushed it towards me as an invitation to try it. I was also disappointed with the taste, but I’ll give Café Gola the benefit of the doubt because we arrived shortly before closing time. However, the sandwich was pretty phenomenal considering it was pre-made and smashed between two hot plates. The bread was warm and soft, the goat cheese melted but not dripping and the combination of the artichoke hearts and roasted peppers was tangy but not overpowering.
Café Gola is perfect for an on-the-go splurge when you want something a little different than the usual bagel and cream cheese. It’s definitely not a place I would choose to meet up with friends and hang out over a cup of coffee (mostly because I wasn’t thrilled about it). It is a little more expensive than I was hoping, but the ingredients it offers — artichoke hearts and goat cheese — are deserving of higher prices.
Serves: Euro-style sandwiches and pastries
Vibe: Hospital cafeteria