Sweet & Sour


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The second generation of Cannella’s running the family restaurant are still putting the same amount of love into the operation their father did when he opened it 35 years ago.  It’s neighborly and full of charm with a great bar and outdoor patio; readers will appreciate the Equality and rainbow stickers proudly placed on the front door. The food is classic Italian with enough flair and adventure to keep things interesting.

Alberto’s special daily soups became a fast favorite during our multiple visits to Cannella’s.  A Roasted Red Pepper soup balanced the flavors of sweet and smoky in creamy, buttery combination, while the Spinach-Artichoke soup popped with bright artichoke flavor.

The house salad is another can’t-miss option, with mozzarella, cucumbers, chickpeas, beets, and pepporincini.   It’s especially good with the house dressing, which marries a classic Italian dressing with the bite of bleu cheese.   The Chicken Caesar was very fresh, but we found the dressing a little sweeter and more lemony than typical.

Lunch brings a wide variety of sandwiches; all served on a variety of delicious, house-made breads — from a moist meatball sandwich to a Niman Ranch burger, which was topped with a thick and tasty layer of  toasted cheese and caramelized onions on an English muffin.

But the standout sandwich was the Beef and Brie — braised brisket and flavorful brie with tomato and a horseradish aioli on a ciabatta bun.  This was, truly, an amazing and unique sandwich.

Dinner brings an appetizer menu full of solid choices like the bruschetta, with a hint of anise flavor; or the antipasto platter which features pickles, almonds, sausage, prosciutto, and three seasonal cheeses.  The Steamed Mussels and Clams are cooked in a delicious white wine garlic broth, but suffered from a chewiness that may have been the result of overcooking.  The sausage and meatball appetizer, however, brought together a nice sweet meatball with an absolutely heavenly spicy sausage, which possesses a magical heat that sneaks up you.   (Not the first time I’ve gone to bed dreaming of sweet balls and a hot sausage.)

Pastas at Cannella’s are cooked perfectly, and the menu contains a lot of classic dishes, such as the Spaghetti with meatballs and a Turkey Tetrazzini that feels like a contender for the ultimate comfort food.  The Pappardelle Bolognese was outstanding — perfectly cooked noodles in a tomato sauce of veal, pork, and pancetta, topped with red peppers and blue cheese that added a tangy counterpoint to the rich meatiness.  The menu features two lasagnas, in meat and vegetarian options. Both were terrific, but we’d recommend the meat version, featuring a roasted pepper sauce and an unexpected balsamic reduction providing a really nice acidic balance.

The Chicken Masala had a nice earthy mushroom flavor, but the thick and creamy sauce threatened to overwhelm the chicken.  The Halibut special, however, was perfectly cooked, tempting even the non-fish eaters in the crowd.

The wine list at Cannela’s is not huge but it is wide.   (That’s better than long and narrow, I always say)   It features a nice range of Italian and American wines.  An absolutely standout cocktail menu contains some unique and tasty items, such as The Presbyterian (bourbon, ginger beer, soda & fresh lemon).

With good service from an attentive and knowledgeable staff, and by adding modern updates to classic Italian, you can see why Cannella’s has lasted 35 years.

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