This might not come as a surprise to most folks in the Utica area, but it was to us: Tom Cavallo’s Restaurant in New Hartford.
It has been around for 60 years, but its doors had never been graced by yours truly until Tuesday night. I’m not sure how it survived all these years without me.
The restaurant is on Genesee Street in the village, with lots and lots of parking behind it. It is not far from Casa Too Mucha and on the same block as Georgio’s Cafe, which we tried to visit first but soon realized was closed from 3 to 5 p.m. We were there at about 4:30.
No worries, Cavallo’s was open and our diminutive cheery waitress was happy to seat us in the huge dining room that was nearly empty when we first sat down but became busier and busier as we settled in.
The three of us were starving after having walked through the food court of Sangertown Square Mall several times, a semi-depressing experience, as we trolled for post-Christmas sales.
We started with some absolutely wonderful bread at Cavallo’s. It was light and airy with a firm, crunchy crust. It rivaled my new-found favorite, at Riley’s in Syracuse, and helped ease the hunger pains.
The menu is extensive, and complemented by a specials board we had to visit twice to recall all its offerings.
I had the sausage and peppers on Cavallo bread special with a side of french fries. The sausage had some spark, and the green and red peppers were done just right. All was encased by thick slices of bread that were slightly grilled, and wonderful. My fries were the shoestring sort that you don’t seem much of anymore. They were great.
My sandwich came with tomato sauce for dipping, and Wife L and I decided that the sauce was some of the best we’ve had. Her meal was only OK, and she wished she had tried one of the reasonably priced Italian entrees instead of the meat loaf special.
There was a smoky flavor to the meat that she at first found interesting but then decided she didn’t quite like. The mashed potatoes were plentiful but, like deficit reduction talk in D.C., not real. That was disappointing.
Daughter B also was served an incredible amount of food: chicken and biscuits. It, too, was good, but not great. She would have been happy with a little more flavor and a little less food.
Prices at Cavallo’s are very good, and portions almost too good. We probably will go back to try again because the menu was so varied and there were hints of success here and there. The tomato sauce was really very good, and there were plenty of red-sauce options to choose from.
It’s good to know there are some places off the beaten-Commercial Drive path that are worth considering.