If you are in the mood for old world Italian dining at its simple and elegant finest, you might want to visit La Cucina Di Mamma at 795 Rainbow Blvd. in Niagara Falls where chef and owner Angelo Morinello may have just the right stuff.
As Italians would say, the food is “delizioso,” whether we’re talking popular favorites like spaghetti and meatballs and eggplant parmigiana with pasta or appetizers like bruschetta or fried calamari. Or you might want to give Angelo’s specialty a try, the rice balls, breaded and fried, stuffed with meat, peas and mozzarella and covered in fresh tomato sauce. I did and they were “molto delizioso.”
Angelo grew up in Lewiston but now makes his home in the Falls, and he took over the restaurant a couple of years ago when the former owner, Filippo Villella, retired and moved south.
While he studied business in school, Angelo says his heart is in cooking.
“I’ve traveled to Italy three times to learn about the food,” says Angelo, “and I can say this, in Italy the pasta is about the pasta, not the sauce, and that’s something I put into practice at my restaurant.”
I took up Angelo on his acquired forte, and I can tell you his meatless sauce with pasta was terrific.
There is room for about 30 guests at La Cucina which is open every day until about 10 p. m., and diners can eat and relax while being serenaded by Angelo’s vinyl record collection featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Vale, and the great Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti. And there is a fine collection of wine to help you savor your meal and relax and enjoy the outstanding entertainment being piped in for your pleasure.
“Our specialty here is very simple, light, and elegant,” says Angelo in describing the atmosphere inside his spotless restaurant. “We want people to come here, whether they are from the area or tourists from across the world, and enjoy a taste of Italy in a warm and friendly environment.”
As a longtime investigative reporter, writing a restaurant review is not my specialty. But I stopped into La Cucina a few days ago for a quick bite and wound up staying for some time, visiting with Angelo, and enjoying a great meal. And the prices are moderate. I highly recommend it.