Good eats on the cheap: Cannella’s giving Italian-American food a good name

By and

I have several Italian friends who refuse to eat at Italian restaurants in the good ol’ U.S. of A. For the most part, I understand their point of view.

Over-flavored dishes made with under-quality ingredients often leave me disappointed-usually I laugh at claims of “authentic Italian dining.” The delightful Cannella’s, however, hidden just behind Library Square, is an all too rare gem of authentic, casual Italian dining.

Before you even walk in the door, the under-advertised entrance and the tree-shaded patio seating suggest that you are in for a treat. Walk through the door and right up to the counter and place your order rapid-fire style, for there are likely to be a group of loyal customers behind you who already know what they want.

But don’t panic. You can’t go wrong with one of the daily specials. Try the turkey tettrazzini, a comfortingly creamy turkey sauce with broccoli, carrots and basil oozing over delicate angel-hair pasta. All lunch specials are served with garlic bread and a side salad, and cost $6.50.

Another great thing about Cannella’s is that it has lower prices than other local restaurants. The Italian-sounding Gandolfo’s, recently voted “best sandwich” by another local periodical, will charge you $10 for its lunch special (a bland sandwich made with economy turkey and cattle-grade lettuce), air-puffed chips, and a fountain drink. At Cannella’s, you can get real Italian meals that shouldn’t even be compared to that of Gandolfo’s, and have enough money left over to grab a hair-spiking espresso or drool-inducing slice of chocolate cake.

Cannella’s also offers a simple-but-tasty selection of beers, as well as about a dozen wines for your enjoyment. Unfortunately, taking your ID-required refreshment across the sidewalk is against Utah law, and a whole squadron of officers is right across the street just waiting for you to try it. But hey, this is an improvement, because until the library moved to its new location, it kept Cannella’s incapable of even having a wine/beer license.

In its 26th year of business, Cannella’s has long been a favorite of downtown business people. Some of the most loyal customers are employees of the city courthouse, jail, and aforementioned library.

You may have driven past Cannella’s many times without even realizing it. It is easy to be distracted by the numerous bail-bonds offices and car dealerships surrounding its one-way 500 South location. But look closely. It’s there on the corner, next to Junior’s Bar.

What a convenient location! Get tossed off of tracks and into jail for vulgarity, have your friend get you out of jail using Beehive Bail Bonds, get some fettuccini at Cannella’s and head next door into Junior’s for some late-night fun-fuel.

One downside to Cannella’s is its lack of dinner hours. They aren’t open Sunday and dinner is served Thursday through Saturday only until 10 p.m. These early hours are the most un-Italian thing about Joe Cannell’s otherwise incredible Italian getaway.

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