Colossal Cafe St. Paul: A first look

The tiny cafe with the ironic name has opened another location.  Elizabeth Tinucci selected a spot in St. Paul, the town where she grew up, for her extension. 

 After the restaurant was featured on the Food Network's Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives ,Tinucci took over the original operation from Bess Giannakakis. She maintained the mammoth yeasty flappers that regulars had grown to love. As word got out thanks to the TV show, the diminutive cafe became nearly impossible to get a table in.  Fans rejoiced when Colossal announced it would be expanding.

The restaurant quietly opened up around the holidays in a space markedly different from the original location.

As if throwing off the restraints of a teensy kitchen space, the new location is wide open and by comparison does, indeed, feel colossal (though it's actually just a nicely sized cafe).

There are plenty of tables, a roomy granite bar, and even a large, secluded table in back, perfect for neighborhood meetings. From the different-colored wood blocks gracing the floor to each selected light fixture, the details of the cafe are gorgeous.  The black table bases elegantly support the square low tables.  The bathrooms are larger than my first Uptown apartment.  

​The roomy kitchen space was full of busy bakers and cooks.  Tinucci was there, happily buzzing around as her staff managed customers.  

​Although the ordering is counter service, we received the most attentive service we've had at a breakfast counter in ... possibly ever.

Another welcome change over the original space is the ability to accept credit cards.

​​The pastry case is full of goodies like the mammoth cinnamon rolls, sweet and savory scones, and a stack of pot pies for takeout (perfectly sized to feed two).  There were strawberry flips, fat and grinning--folded cake filled with whipped cream.

Coffee is self=serve and sourced from True Stone. Water pours from a soda-jerk spigot with an optional side of lemon.

The savory scones were light and fluffy, and the fat biscuit interiors were buttery, but they would have been even better just a little bit warm.  

The pancakes, we're happy to report, are just as yeasty and hearty as the originals. With a healthy pour of real maple syrup from Three Rivers, they were a childlike treat.

​We sampled a breakfast sandwich with egg, prosciutto, sun-dried tomato, and Swiss cheese served on house-made sourdough bread.  Fat bread slices were a serious commitment to chew but toasty and crisp. The egg erupted into a gold river, soaking the crust, while the porky, griddled prosciutto peaked out from the edges.  There was a light amount of cheese, just enough for a little welcome goo, while the sun-dried tomatoes brightened every bite.

The fluffy omelet arrived stuffed with cheese and sweet Italian sausage but also sported some sad, out-of-season tomatoes. The hash browns served with the omelet were perfectly brown and golden, crunchy on one side, delicate on the other.  A side of bacon was also perfectly cooked, just the right amount of chew to crispy ratio, sourced from Fischer Farms.

The room was lively, full of people from both the nearby Luther and U of M St. Paul campuses, a welcoming neighborhood with a lovely new gathering spot.

Colossal Cafe
2315 Como Ave., St. Paul

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