Salvatore Attanasio arrives at Café Solé every morning by 6:30. He bakes the fragrant bread for the day’s customers. His wife arrives after dropping their three kids at school in time to make the fresh pasta, the panna cotta and tiramisu. They greet lunch guests, wait tables, cook, bus, fill to-go orders. They take a quick break, pick up the kids and prepare for the pre- and post-movie dinner rushes. It’s lucky if they’re home by 10 p.m. They get up the next morning and do it again. Happily.
Café Solé, the venerable Italian trattoria near the La Cañada Flintridge UA movie theaters, is a dream come true for Salvatore and Alessandra Attanasio. After years of wanting to run their own place, they took over Café Solé from the well-loved Antoinetta seven months ago and have been going strong ever since. For the time being, they’ve kept Antoinetta’s basic menu but added Salvatore’s favorites like papardelle with porcini, risotto with sausage and rapini, and classic spaghetti with tomato sauce. “You call it marinara,” says Attanasio, “I call it tomato sauce.”
Attanasio got his training from years with the family Drago at the outstanding Celestino in Pasadena. Watching him and his team hustle, they seem to respect his energetic work ethic. In return, he commands efficiency and courtesy from the staff. Before the food even arrives I observe this. It comes as no surprise, then, that the food is excellent.
Today’s special is fettuccine with prosciutto, pisolli and panna or “pasta with 3 p’s,” as Attanasio calls it ($15.50). The fettuccine is wonderfully thin and eggy, the prosciutto is cut into thick squares and applied liberally, the panna is whirled into a decadent cream sauce. Curiously, the pisolli (peas) are not peas at all but soy beans. They’re great though, adding a nutty rusticity to the dish.
Their beautiful pizzas are made Napolitano style. There are long-cooked risottos, made-to-order pastas, large salads, and tempting fish, meat and poultry dishes with the regional flavors of southern Italy. A few northern specialties, such as osso buco, are thrown in. These folks know authentic Italian food and obviously love to make it.
The trattoria itself is small and not as elegant as other comparatively priced places but the white tablecloths, excellent service and superior food create an air of refinement. There is a comfortable outdoor patio for enjoying a long summer evening with wine or beer. Espresso, cappuccino and lattes are available to sip between forkfuls of cannoli or flourless chocolate cake. Parking is a snap in the large lot.
Next time you’re craving that pasta dish you had eight years ago near the Pantheon in Rome, give Café Solé a try. Salvatore, always the accommodating host, will help you find just the right thing.
What: Café Solé
Where: 1929 Verdugo Blvd, La Cañada Flintridge
When: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m.
More info: (818) 790-6062
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