Canale’s Liverpool

Categories: Casual, Eat-in, Italian, Take-away
Comments: No Comments
Published on: April 4, 2014

Canale’s of Oswego, a restaurant going back over 50 years, opened a simple take-out place in Liverpool a few years back.  It’s on Rt 57, in the Glenn Crossing Plaza.  There are a few other ethnic restaurants here, so it seemed like a good choice.  The space was small, meant only for cooking, with a small waiting area for patrons who were picking up their food.


Nope.  The patrons would have none of that!  These folks wanted to sit down and actually eat what they’d ordered on premises.  So Canale’s immediately obliged.  The place got so popular that they even build a little area in the warm months, where people can sit outside and be served.  True, the atmosphere out there can be a little. . . smoggy, but what the heck, you’re eating outside!

In a case where the exception really does prove the rule, I have had exactly one bad meal at Canale’s.  The regular staff (family, really) all had the night off, leaving the fill-in staff to manage the place.  It was horrible.  Slow service, poorly-made food that came way late.  Terrible.  I made a point to talk with the manager a few days later – not to complain, but to let her know what was going on when they were all gone.  She was heartbroken – I think that was really the word for it.  This is their life, their love.  It’s in their blood.  And to hear that not just one patron, but a whole room full of them, had a bad experience really made her physically ill.

And that’s the bad news.  All of it.

I eat at Canale’s fairly often.  It’s not like I’m there several times a week, or even every week.  But the regular staff know me by name, know I drink Diet Coke.  I’ve been there a lot.  So you know this review, which actually encompasses several visits, is going to be biased.  But if you like good food, basic food which gives you the warm and fuzzies, I suggest you go and try it for yourself.  Prove to yourself that I’m wrong.

Let’s start with the pizza.  This is not a pizza joint, with big round pies that will feed the family.  Each is prepared by hand, when ordered.  The thin oblong crust bubbles up around the edge with air pockets, holding the toppings cradled in the center.  It’s crispy, has a good mouth feel, usually without a lot of grease.  These are close to artisinal pies, I’d say, meant to feed one person, maybe 2 or three if you get the larger ones.  And yeah, you can get a big round one here too.

Most of their pasta dishes are made with “regular” pasta.  Premade pasta.  But they do have some that are home made.  I’m no connoisseur – I can’t really give you the breakdown on taste, on feel.  I’d say the regular stuff is good, and the home made stuff is a step above.  But it’s pasta, and I’m not gonna spend much time on it.

Now their sauces, on the other hand, are good.  Very good.  So good, people wanted to buy them in a jar to serve at home.  Again, Canale’s obliged.  Their “regular” sauce is smooth, silky.  It has a tomato-y tang, but is not overly acidic.  Some people put a lot of sugar in their sauce to cut the acid.  Not Canale’s.  If it’s sweet, it’s delicately so.  My favorite is their “fixed” sauce – regular with Romano cheese and butter.  Mmm!

I’m not a fan of marinara, even theirs.  Nothing wrong with theirs – I just don’t like it in general.  Theirs has chunks of tomato and other veggies, and no meat.  I can’t help it, I’m a carnivore.

I also try to stay away from alfredo sauce.  “Heart attack on a plate” was how I once heard it described.  But I have had a few mouthsfull of theirs, and I kind of enjoyed it.  Again, I’m no expert.  Let us know if you liked it.

My wife is a fan of their broccoli sauce.  She gets her pasta that way every time.

I’m a fan of their linguine with red clam sauce.  Now, there’s another Italian restaurant (or 2 or 3) where you get the pasta covered with steamed whole clams, right in the shell.  At Canale’s, you get a ton of clam meat in the sauce, and your pasta is covered in it.  There’s a bit of a brine taste sometimes, but that just lets you know you’re eating clams.  Good stuff.

When I’m in the mood for beef, I gotta say there’s nothing like a good steak.  Except sometimes, what I want is the Montreal tenderloins from this place.  Flavorful, covered with small mushrooms, and the beef is tender.  Falls apart in your mouth.  The only thing better?  Chicken scallopini.  Boneless breast pieces in mushrooms and wine.  Make it outstanding by getting it with artichoke hearts!

Again, religious arguments can spring up over “gravy” (I have an Italian-off-the-boat friend from Brooklyn who hates that word for sauce).  Come here with some friends, try it while dining al fresco near the scenic parking lot.  Have heated words over fine food.

Oh, review-type comments.  Ambiance?  A tiny place, not too romantic, better than McDs.  Food and service are top notch.  Pricing?  $50 for two, with tip, if you both get expensive dishes.  They offer a selection of wines and beers.


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