Cafe CaNole: Restaurant Review…Get Your Coat And Get There!

Is there anything more decadent?
 Thanks Dean!!!
Is there anything more decadent?  Thanks Dean!!!

Is there anything more decadent?
Thanks Dean!!!

So.  There’s nothing like a home cooked Italian meal…(especially if you can get someone else to make it for you.)  If you are looking for authentic Italian cuisine, you have to make the trip from where ever you may find yourself on the planet to Cafe CaNole.  This small business is a jewel, located at 1 Campion Road, New Hartford  in Central New York.

Owned by the Nole brothers, Dean and Jason, they offer True.  Italian.  Cuisine.  If you’re looking for spaghetti and meatballs, you won’t find it here.  Instead they offer the dishes from your Nonna’s table.  In fact, I would venture as far as to say that if you don’t know what Rabine greens are, you haven’t eaten true Italian food.  Yet.

Traditionally, Italian food (as the Italians know it,) is different than what we’ve come to expect here in the states.

This restaurant has found the perfect balance of upscale Italian food and good old-fashioned, peasant, comfort food.  Served in an urban style of sparse class, the chalk board walls have the daily specials as well as the finest list of wines this side of Greve in Chianti.

Dean is a perfect host, both gracious and gregarious.  He flits around the restaurant’s two kitchens overseeing the creations being wrought from scratch.  Whether your preference is for savory or sweet, they have both.  The menu for both lunch and dinner is presented on plates in the European style of contorno .  This means that each part of the meal is celebrated for the work of art that it is.  (Much like a “contour” in art, it completes, gives depth, and adds color.  Here, is the added bonus of taste.)  They use tiny sauce pans to serve their risotto and truffle potatoes, which allows you to appreciate and register the tastes of each separate component of the meal.

When you are seated, the ambience is both convivial and intimate.  There is a screen showing old Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin movies and the tables are cozy, especially once the fresh baked bread arrives.  The bread plates beckon for olive oil.  Jugs of the best, buttery olive oil are the centerpiece of each table.  When you are presented with the bread and cheese, pour some olive oil onto the plate, sprinkle it with the cheese and dip your bread.  By the time your meal arrives, you will already be satiated, but keep on going…the salads are huge and fresh and beautiful.  Findings like beets, gorgonzola cheese, apples, and tomatoes are like little gems hidden among the baby lettuces.

Whatever you order, you will be thrilled and filled.  There is a relaxing atmosphere that invites you to linger over espresso and pastries.  Be sure to look in their bakery case.  Whatever you choose will be fantastic.  They have a plethora of favorites coupled with creative and delicious delights.  They also make wedding cakes, as well as everything from First Communion to birthday cakes. Theircookies are the kind that everyone’s Zia used to make, but no one ever wrote the recipe down.

Almond Paste Cookies

Almond Paste Cookies

Enjoy your meal.  I’ve said before that “Buon cibo loda Dio.” (Good food praises God.)  Here, that old Italian expression is a full on worship service.

…and when you go, tell them Cindy sent you.

The Bar

The author with her dear cousin

The author with her dear cousin and great uncle at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe’ (photo taken by her husband)

…So in my post The Italian Breakfast, I was telling you about Il Bar.  Not an establishment of ill repute or a public house, a bar in Italy is where coffee and treats are served.  THIS is where the locals go to eat.  In fact, if you see a sign that says “American Breakfast” you can be sure no locals will be there.

“American Breakfast” as it is called on the sign is designed to lure you in with promises of what they think Americans eat each morning.  Eggs.  Bacon.  Toast.  Cafe Americano.  (Italians think this coffee is watered down and silly.  Why drink all that liquid when you can have an espresso for the same caffeine hit?)  The problem with this breakfast is that, for me at least, I don’t eat that.  Cereal and milk is difficult to find.

This is where you have to open your culinary horizons. You are better off going to one of the said “bars” and watching for a moment what the locals do.  They already know by your bone structure that you are American, so don’t get worried.  They will make you feel welcome, and they will love that you are honoring their local customs.  You can point and smile and they are so helpful!

There are lots of famous ones throughout La Citta Eterna, but there are a couple you might want to go to just to steep yourself in history, culture and coffee.  One is Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe’, just off via Monetrone near the Piazza Rotondo.  The other one is the oldest caffe in Rome, Antico Caffe’ Greco on the world famous via Condotti.  The photographs alone are worth the trip.

The oldest caffe' in Rome.

The oldest caffe’ in Rome. (Photo by Michael Sirni)

You order your espresso then point to what you would like in the displays.  They put it all on a plate, much like a cafeteria with “il conto” (the bill.)  You pay and then stand and eat it at the bar like the locals.  Espresso is literally a shot.  Add sugar and gulp.  It’s over.  While Americans may nurse the same foam cup of coffee all day long, Italians finish it all in a sip.  (They do go back and have them all day, so don’t think they have taken any kind of higher ground….no coffee pun intended.)

If you sit down, there are additional charges, much like a tip.  It is called “coperto” which is an umbrella term for bread, use of forks, table services, etc. If you want to appear really in the know, watch someone order ahead of you.  Smile at the counter worker, nod your head to the said person ahead of you and say, “lo stesso.” This means, loosely translated, “I’ll have the same thing.” Just hope they didn’t order something you’re allergic to…. 🙂

How do the Italians do it?

     Italian women are world renowned for their sense of fashion, their eyes for style and their ability to walk in high heels.  What’s even more impressive, is they have teeny, tiny little closets.  

     What??? How is that possible?  The first time I was in Italy I was given the privilege of seeing my cousin’s closet in Rome.  It was built into the wall, sleek, and impossibly tiny.  Living in La Citta Eterna means that there are centuries of Roman architecture and art, masses of humanity, and Not A Lot Of Space.  I suppose it’s a trade off….

     The secret is in selection.  Instead of having ten pairs of black trousers, she had one.  Tailored, lined, perfect.  It probably cost a fortune, but just up front.  When I consider how many not quite right pairs of black trousers I have purchased, I’ve probably spent more than she had.  Imagine only having a tiny closet of clothes that fit, match one another, and make you feel beautiful.