Tasting the authentic at Café Torino

By Posted on Nov 14 2019 | By

Warrenton’s Little Italy is where appetites fall in love

Pressed for time and money for a getaway to northern Italy? Forget booking flights and making hotel reservations, simply drop by Café Torino and let Andrea and Amber Ferrero transport you to Italiana via the plate.

The cozy restaurant, located in the Waterloo Station Shopping Center, has a proven track record of gustatory performance. If you’re not speaking Italian by the end of your repast, you wish you could. For 18 years the eatery has been satisfying a legion of fans who finish their meals with a sigh of “delizioso”.

To put its longevity in perspective, most restaurants close their doors after the first year of operation. Within five years 70 percent will have faded from memory. In the industry, an 18-year run seemingly approaches the longevity of the Roman Empire.

What sustains such a track record? Authenticity. “I try to keep the food authentic Italian. We focus on keeping the flavors like my grandmother used to make. She is the one who first taught me how to cook,” says Andrea Ferrero.

Struck with a passion for cooking as a young lad living in Torino, Ferrero went on to graduate from culinary school at age 18. He then did a tour of duty in the military and at 24 was offered a job at the former Warrenton restaurant Fantastico’s to design, open and run a bakery.

“I was crazy enough to accept the offer, got on a plane and came to America,” recalls Ferrero. A fortunate decision for the rest of us.

He met his wife while working at Fantastico’s. The couple have been married for 27 years and have two adult children. After the restaurant closed, Ferrero worked as a corporate chef in D.C. for two organizations but found himself unemployed after his last place of employment closed.

After receiving a severance check, he recalls his wife saying, “We have a three-year-old and five-year-old and you cannot be out of job. We are going to open our own place.” Behind every great man is a wife and mother who wants stability.

Amber Ferrero located the building where the café is located and created its name. “All I had to do was meet with the real estate agent and sign the contract,” says Andrea Ferrero. Together with her father the threesome completed the interior of the building and opened in 2001.

Today he calls his wife the owner of the café. But wait. Aren’t they co-owners? Of course. But Amber Ferrero “owns” the restaurant as in she is the “hero behind the picture” and soul of the establishment.

This perspective reveals the level of love and respect they have for each other. “Not many couples can work together”, but their success is reflected in the quality food and service coming out of the kitchen.

The menu
In the early days, they had a cook in the kitchen. But when he left, Ferrero put on the dining apron and switched roles as the bakery chef with his wife. She took over with no formal training and today produces all of the cafe’s baked goods except for the focaccia bread which is made early in the morning before she arrives.

“Amber picked up what I taught her and came up with some new ideas. That’s why the pastries look and taste way better now than when I was making them.” If the man were ever to consider another career, marriage counselor might be a good choice.

During the recession the focaccia bread and chicken salad, “…were what kept us in business.” But the menu has considerably more depth than those two popular items.

A quick glance at a recent menu reveals dishes rich in imagination and flavors: crab filled calamari, eggplant Sciliana, Paglia e fieno with scallops and lobster, chicken torino, veal ossobuco, tuna steak with saffron cream sauce and more. Perusing the menu requires some thought before placing an order.

A few years ago, a rumor circulated that the café was going to close. “We have no intention of closing whatsoever. We are not going to abandon Warrenton.” Good news for loyal fans such as Dan Kutruff who owns The Grapevine wine shop next door.

“I’ll pop over for a sandwich because the restaurant is the real deal. The baked goods are unbelievable. I always tell my customers to go over and try Andrea’s focaccia bread. It’s phenomenal. I tried to duplicate it myself but couldn’t.” High compliments coming from a wine connoisseur who knows a thing or two about food and drink.

Giving back to the community is high on the Ferreros’ priorities. Recently they contributed over $1,000 worth of food to the kick off this year’s “Shop with a Cop” program sponsored by area law enforcement agencies. The program connects children 5 to 12 years old from less fortunate circumstances with law enforcement officers for a two-hour shopping spree.

“Warrenton has given us a lot and we want to give back,” he says.
Café Torino is located at 388 Waterloo Street. For a full description of its diverse lunch and dinner menus, cakes, catering service and hours of operation visit

Published in the October 16, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES