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THE POST-STANDARD / WEEKEND - DINING OUT

By Yolanda Wright
Contributing writer

When scouting for a location to film ''Come Away With Me," Italian scriptwriter/director Carlo Ventura returned to his East Utica roots, where his story is set.

 

Before shooting began a few years ago, Ventura hired Cafe Ca'Nole to cater dinners for the company.

 

The popular Italian pastry shop and cafe, owned by chefs Dean and Jason Nole, graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, would offer homemade dishes.

 

With a vintage Hollywood twist, Ventura's shooting began after an audition for Jason Nole, who landed a lead role in the film.

 

His brother, Dean, managed the catering.

 

The firm's premiere played to two enthusiastic full houses in Utica in late June and is sched­uled for winter openings in Man­hattan and Rome, Italy.

 

When four of us visited Cafe Ca'Nole on a recent Friday eve­ning, there were no movie lights, but there were plenty of stars on our plates during an exceptional­ly good dinner with friendly ser­vice and moderate prices.

 

Pronounced like "cannoli," a popular cheese-filled Italian pas­try, the bakery is the house of the Nole brothers, whose dining-room walls are filled with vin­tage photographs, and tables are topped with white linens and vo­tive candles.

 

The details

 

The restaurant: Cafe Ca'Nole, 900 Culver Ave., Utica. 733-6592.

 

Credit cards? Yes. Access to disabled? Yes. Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Dinner served only on Friday and Saturday. Cost: Dinner for four with two appetizers, entrees, desserts, coffee, wine, tax and tip, was $163.59.

 

Wine bottles hang from wrought-iron forms above a small bar, and dessert-lovers' dreams come true with glass dis­play cases with rows of cakes, tarts, cookies and such filled cre­ations as pastry lobster claws.

 

A separate gelato display is an Italian souvenir waiting to be claimed.

 

The cafe's simple a-la-carte menu offers six starters ($6 to $10) and 10 entrees ($15 to $27). We began with a bottle of Folo-nari pinot grigio ($15), a basket of bread that tasted homemade and a dish of olive oil for dip­ping.

 

Two starters were remarkable, one for presentation and one for size, and both were big on flavor.

 

A Greek-style salad ($7) earned a gold medal for creativ­ity, as its sliced ingredients formed a perfect tower rising with thin cucumbers, vine-rip­ened tomatoes, sweet onions, feta cheese, kalamata olives and crunchy bread crumbs. This eye-opener was terrific.

 

Easy to share and to enjoy, as­sorted antipasti ($10) filled a giant plate with generous por­tions of carefully composed, paper-thin prosciutto, spicy sop-pressata sausage, bruschetta with diced tomatoes and onions, cubes of roasted beets, marinated black and green olives, sliced and cubed cheeses and marinated arugula.

 

On a table obviously designed for cafe lunches but too small to accommodate four large entree plates, wine cooler, glasses, bread basket and more, we even­tually coped and were ready for hot entrees.

 

Although each had a creative Italian touch, they were definite­ly not spaghetti-and-meatball standbys.

 

A chicken breast roasted with herbs and garlic ($18) ar­rived with a delicious summer-vegetable risotto.

 

More creamy risotto accompa­nied an evening special of pan-seared salmon ($22) with corn and shrimp relish.

 

The thick fish fillet was moist and fresh-tasting.

 

Prosciutto-wrapped pork ten­derloin ($18), cut into thick slic­es, was crisp on the outside with a slightly pink interior and lots of flavor.

 

Surrounded by savory Tuscan cannellini beans and topped with a small green herb salad with a balsamic reduction, the combi­nation was great.

 

Shrimp and freshly shucked lobster ($19) provided a splendid filling for homemade ravioli in a asonal lemon and white-wine broth with summer squash and snow peas.

 

Other entree choices included calamari, shrimp and clams with spaghettini, plum-tomato sauce and fresh basil ($19), veal Mila­nese ($ 18) with salad, pappar-delle pasta with spring peas, pro­sciutto, toasted garlic and oil with Reggiano cheese ($15) and a mixed grill with sliced sirloin, braised beef short ribs and grilled pork medallions ($27).

 

For dessert, we visited the pastry cases and chose individu­al favorites, which were deliv­ered on doily-covered plates with coffee ($1.25 each). We in­dulged in a creamy old-fash­ioned Napoleon, a traditional chocolate eclair, a chocolate bis-cotti and a crescent-shaped Ital­ian almond-paste cookie — all first-rate and tasting homemade.

 

With the cookie, I couldn't re­sist a small stemmed glass of creamy pistachio gelato, putting me back on dozens of streets in Italy, where refreshing scoops of an old favorite come in cardboard cups with tiny pink plastic spades. The total tab for desserts was $6.35.

 

Service at Ca'Nole was friendly, attentive and knowl­edgeable in a relaxed neighbor­hood setting that made me wish it were in mine.

 

Yolanda Wright's weekly "Dining Out" review is based on an unannounced, anonymous visit. An A-to-Z listing of many of the reviews is available at www.syracuse.com/dining/ .

Comments & Reviews

 This restaurant has found the perfect balance of upscale Italian food and good old-fashioned, peasant, comfort food.
Restuarant Review by
Cynthia Dite Sirni: Read more...

 Crave an Italian dinner that is authentic, creative, and made from scratch? Then make the drive to this gem in Utica.
- Amy C - 09/2014

 Amazing cake!!! sweet and moist! Highly recommended... Cannoli cake with strawberries and carrot were two of the top favorites!
Wedding Cake Reviews on
The Knot: Read more...

Cafe CaNole Bakery

For almost two decades, Cafe CaNole has been Central New York's first choice in fresh premium pastries, cakes and mouth-watering desserts.

Our unique assortment of handmade creations includes everything from over-the-counter satisfying treats to trayed or boxed pre-ordered assortments as well as birthday and specialty cakes for every occasion.

Cafe CaNole Restaurant

Conveniently located on Campion Road in The Village of New Hartford, Cafe CaNole offers local patrons a fine dining experience for even the most cultured palate.

Open for both lunch and dinner six days a week, our menus feature something for everyone. The cozy and casual, yet upbeat and modern, decor is inviting and is the perfect setting for a business meeting, quick bite or a night out with friends or family. Learn More...

Contact Us

Cafe CaNole Inc.

1 Campion Road
New Hartford, NY, USA 13413
Phone: 315-733-6592
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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