Toscanos Café and Wine Bar located at 437 29th Street NE # C Puyallup, WA 98372 had March Madness for its 8th year. Tom Pantley, executive chef and part owner of Toscanos, explained, “March Madness is a way to introduce people to our bar and the fact that we have cocktails available. We had a local artist, Angie Capps, paint martini glasses. If a customer ordered one of our featured martinis, they obtained a free martini glass. We decided to name it after March Madness for basketball. It has kinda taken off on its own. In 2004, our first year, we gave out approximately 500 martini glasses. We just finished Martini Madness and gave away over 2,800 for the month of March…that’s huge. We have had a few different artists over the course of the years; some years we have repeated artists and some years we have new ones. We want our artists to be local and they bring in samples of their work. This year we did animal print and Angie had a good vision of how to get an animal print on glass. This was our first year doing animal print and it went over well.”
For each of the weeks in March, Toscanos had a themed week for their martinis. The first week was “snow leopard.” If customers ordered any of the following martinis during snow leopard week they received a hand painted martini glass: Spicy Ginger Gimlet, Lychee Martini, Chi Chi the Cat, Mango Lemon Drop, or the Martini Madness Martini which includes a Bombay Gin Martini or an Absolut Vodka Martini. The second week was “green zebra.” Customers that ordered any of the following martinis during green zebra week received a free hand painted martini glass: A Cold Day in Ireland, Green Zebra Cosmo, Cucumber Pineapple Martini, Patrick’s Other Ireland, or the Martini Madness Martini which includes a Bombay Gin Martini or Pearl Vodka Martini. The third week was “peacock.” Customers that ordered any of the following martinis during peacock week received a free hand painted martini glass: Raspberry Attraction, Grape Cosmo, Peacock Lemon Drop, and the Madness Martini made with Absolut Vodka or Bombay Gin. The fourth week was “giraffe.” Customers that ordered any of the following martinis during green giraffe week received a free hand painted martini glass: The Dawa Stick, African Savanna at Sunset, A Libyan Screwdriver, Blueberries for Italy, and the Long Tall Martini option, which includes either a Bombay Gin Martini or Pearl Vodka Martini. The fifth and final week was “leopard.” Customers that ordered any of the following martinis during green leopard week received a free hand painted martini glass: Cucumber Pineapple Martini, Chi Chi the Cat, African Savanna at Sunset, Pretty as a Peahen, and the Martini Madness option which includes a…you, guessed it a Bombay Gin Martini or Pearl Vodka Martini.
Tom commented, “It’s a great way to kick off spring. You go through winter and it’s dreary with the same thing outside every day. March is evolving, once the new weather starts the patio will be opened up and Martini Madness gets us thinking about the spring. You can see from the main street, the patio, which is an extension of the dining room. It’s a really fun place in the summer.” When asked what he thought of March Madness month Tom replied, “It’s just so much fun and the excitement. People get excited over glasses and cocktails. We have a lot of fun coming up with drinks. We try to do different things. Some of the drinks get on our cocktail menu; we keep being creative with our cocktails.”
When asked the best thing about March Madness, Tom replied, “Seeing customers leaving the restaurant with their shopping bag of martini glasses.” Tom continued: “We bought glasses before deciding what we’re gonna do and March Madness kinda evolved from that. Our goal is to come up with fun things for people to do. We do cooking classes, wine dinners, and special nights where we have an expert talk about different scotches and things like that. We’re trying to do things that are interesting and exciting for people.”
Some upcoming events at Toscanos (please visit: toscanospuyallup.com for more information on any of these events):
Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm there will be a BR Cohn Wine dinner which will include 4 small plate courses and wine. Tom stated, “Someone from winery will talk about wines and specialty olive oils. The price is $50 a person tax and gratuity included.” People should register for this event as soon as possible.
Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 5 pm there will be a “Is it Spring Yet?” Cooking Class
Tom stated, “We will be talking about vegetables in spring. There will be a
4 course meal cook right in front of you to sample. It is an instruction demonstration class of food and wine. Tickets are $60 a person which includes gratuity and tip.” People can register for this event within the next three to four weeks.
When asked who he recommended attend Toscanos, Tom replied, “It’s a great place for a date night and a good place for a casual meeting, for an old friend…that sort of thing.” Who does Tom recommend attend Martini Madness? Tom replied, “Oh God, anybody who wants to try new cocktails and build up their China cabinet. Our events are designed to be educational and a lot of fun. It can be a date night or serious, or can be about learning food and casual. You also enjoy a good meal and have a good time; so it’s designed for both. Tom even recommends his family and friends to Toscanos, “Oh yeah! The menu’s very diverse and there’s something for everyone.”
Kimarie Johnson, Director of Services at Toscanos, has a lot of gratitude for the local artists that Toscanos has chosen. She commented: “If anybody wants further information, shoot us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The artists rocked it and it was a good part of why it was successful.”
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com