Comfortable is the best way to describe the food at Italian Village's Cravings Carryout Cafe.
To call the setup Cravings Carryout Cafe co-owner Matt Tewanger has crafted a "kitchen" would be generous. Its contents include crepe irons that double as hotplates and baking racks stacked with pans of fresh cookies and cinnamon rolls. Stand at the counter, just a few strides from the door, and you're practically in Tewanger's cooking space. Perhaps this is why, as he hustles from side to side, the former Refectory pastry chef always stops to say hello. His friendliness, mixed with soul-warming aromas of warm sugar and butter, makes what could be a cramped and awkward space (especially if more than four people are in line) feel comfortable.
Comfortable is also the best way to describe his Italian Village bakery-meets-cafe food. The roughly six rotating breakfast and lunch sandwiches aren't light-there's no skimping on butter in brioche dough or fat in rosemary aioli-but they're immensely fresh. Take the signature Cravings Club ($8). Tender pieces of peppery roasted chicken are mixed with seasonal slaw (more often than not Brussels sprouts-based) and then slathered with rich rosemary aioli. Then there's my new favorite: the Carnitas Sandwich ($8) with braised pork shoulder, acidic and bright pickled red onions and an umami avocado tomatillo salsa.
Whether or not you're hankering for something sweet, grab a cookie on the way out. There are always three to choose from-typically something classic (like a sugar cookie), something fun (like goat cheese and blueberry) and something with nuts in it (like white chocolate pistachio). cravingscarryoutcafe.com