Cafe Sorriso

Cafe Sorriso opened about a month ago in the old Lateda location, in front of the downtown Safeway in San Leandro. Lateda was much loved in this community, but it had to close after the owners increased the rent to impossible levels. I’m not sure how the economics will work for Cafe Sorriso – the sad fact is that cafes in San Leandro (save, I imagine, for Starbucks) are not big money makers.
The new Cafe Sorriso looks wonderful. On the outside, it’s benefited from a coat of orange paint that makes it look sunny and friendly. I’m partial to that particular yellow-orange color, so I may be biased here. Inside it looks brand new. The “kitchen”/food preparation area has shrank a bit in size and is now composed of brand new impecable stainless steel surfaces – while a new counter has appeared making an L-shape with the old one, where they feature the day’s pastries and take your order. Back there there is a wall with miniature tea pots and small mugs – I thought they were just for decoration, but apparently that’s what you get if you order tea. I didn’t pay attention to their tea offerings this time, but I certainly will in the future (which reminds me – I have to make reservations for our April and May monthly teas!).
The rest of the restaurant features new paint, a lot of dark wood lintels, a new fake-fireplace (but still nice) and new, stylish furniture. There are a couple of fake-leather (or cheap leather, didn’t look closely) couches with a fake-marble coffee table, and otherwise crowded tables and chairs. But everything looks very nice and comfy. Cafe Sorriso’s space is quite small, so there isn’t an area for children – but they do have a couple of toys and story books in a shelf, as well as a lot of newspapers. The sofa area is large enough that a couple of patient kids can hang out for a little while – but still close enough to the rest of the scene that it took my 4 yo no time at all to make friends with another little girl sitting nearby. Still, I’m not sure of how child friendly this space will be if we have to sit at one of the tables. I’ll report on that later.
The menu features teas and coffees – but alas, I didn’t take the time to look at those. Instead I concentrated in the half-dozen or so ‘smoothie’ offerings (including a mango lassi) and the 3 or 4 shakes (all $3.50, I think). I’m convinced that if independent coffee-makers want to stand up to Starbucks they really need to spruce up their cold drink offerings (does anyone really go to Starbucks for coffee? It’s the frapuccinos that keep them coming!). I didn’t see any Frapuccino-style drinks here (though truth be told, I was feeling hurried by the server) but the smoothies sounded yummy. I settled in a “strawberry vanilla surprise” while Kathy went for a vanilla shake. I don’t know what the “surprise” on my smoothie was, perhaps that it wasn’t really a smoothie – more like a shake with a heavy ice cream base. I saw frozen strawberries and strawberry torrani added, but I don’t know what else. The result was quite good, it reminded me of the shakes at Vo’s, though it wasn’t quite as yummy. Still, some kids at a nearby table who were also savoring it seemed to like it very much and I certainly would order it again. The vanilla shake started good, but it didn’t hold up. It probably had too much ice, for at the end it was thin and tasteless. If you order it you may want to ask for “easy on the ice”.
We were hungry but none of the limited soup or sandwich options sounded appealing (of the latter they have a turkey, a veggie and a ham and cheese, I think, for about $5) so we instead went with a couple of pastries ($2 each). These were dry and not very tasty – unexcusable given that the cafe is just a few feet away from Safeway where they could easily get better quality baked goods.
In all, I’m quite pleased with Cafe Sorriso and I will go again. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to offer WI-FI.
Cafe Sorriso
1501 Washington Ave
San Leandro CA
M-Sa 6 am – 7 pm
Su 6 am – 5 pm

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