On a warm summer evening, three friends and I descended upon a Palm Springs Valley institution to partake in its rich tradition of old world Italian dining. We arrived at D’Carlo’s Italian Café in Rancho Mirage’s Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center (at Highway 111 and Bob Hope Drive) and met my old friend Tom Hixson, the restaurant’s owner for the past three years. Tom gave us a choice of an indoor (60 seats) or al fresco setting (30 seats), which at this time of year was an easy decision (perfectly cooled indoors). The rest of the year it’s a bit more difficult, as patio dining—especially in the spring and fall—is delightful. And with a wonderful selection of wines and beers, you’ll almost feel like you’re in the old country.
Tom and his team of expert kitchen and service staff make it a snap to enjoy D’Carlo’s. Their menu is chock full of all the Italian specialties you would expect, and even more. We were content to share a few appetizers between four hungry souls, opting for some cheesy garlic bread with a delicious red sauce, fried calamari, and a beautiful antipasto salad, eschewing all the other options as we knew from experience the hefty portions of the main courses.
Deciding on entrees was easier said than done, as the choices are many. Six pasta variations can be paired with about a dozen classic sauces and preparations. Meatballs? Sausage? Primavera? Parmigiano? All there. But so are ravioli, manicotti, cannelloni, lasagna, and some of the best Eggplant Parmigiano you’ll ever taste. And then there are the chicken dishes (cacciatore with fettucini is my fave), the veal preparations, seafood, sandwiches, and pizzas. Seriously, you’ll tear your hair out trying to decide what to order.
Even though we were all totally stuffed, we couldn’t leave without a sweet finish that included Tom’s amazing tiramisu, and his special cheesecake recipe that’s topped with Rancho Mirage’s own Brandini Toffee crumble. It’s deliriously sinful!
Open straight through for an early lunch at 11:00 a.m. through dinner (’til 8:30 p.m.), and offering take-out and catering services—all at very reasonable prices, I might add—you’ll find yourself coming back to D’Carlo’s over and over again. You might even see me in the corner, waving “Benvenuto!” www.dcarlositaliancafe.com