Il Angolo: Cucina Italiana

Nicole Capozziello

While eating at Il Angolo Rest¢-Bar, the wooden floors, soft lighting, and piquant aromas created a feeling of elegance, transporting me to a place that seemed far away.
Then I looked up. Beyond the linen tablecloths and the Italian frescoes on the wall, I saw the Appleton Public Library, Cheyenne’s Sports Bar, and some interesting characters lingering outside the bus station.
Regardless of the engine of an idling Chevy outside bringing me back to reality, Il Angolo’s air of sophistication, as well as smell of thyme, remained.
Perhaps the very unpredictability of its location is what kept me from noticing Il Angolo for the first few months it was open. Il Angolo, pronounced with a hard “g,” is located at 201 N. Appleton St. and appropriately means “the corner” in Italian; it opened its doors Sept. 1, 2006.
The rest¢-bar offers Mediterranean food in an environment that blends a casual atmosphere with the experience and quality of fine dining.
The restaurant offers dishes from France, Italy, Spain and Greece and is open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner, and Sunday for brunch.
Il Angolo has a portion of the menu that remains constant. The rest of the menu, however, changes on a weekly basis, allowing Fortino Solano, head chef and co-owner, to constantly offer new dishes, changing with the availability of seafood.
The seafood, much of which he orders from Hawaii, is fresh, coming in Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and unlike anything else you will find in the area.
On the unvarying portion of the menu are four different salads and soups, a few appetizers, and around 10 entres. The weekly special features section is extensive with at least 15 entres, including meat, seafood and vegetarian options.
Each entre, priced between $20 and $35, comes with either soup or salad and your choice of side dish. DJ Brengle, sophomore and recent discoverer of Il Angolo, passionately recommends the crab cake, currently one of the appetizers.
Il Angolo has a huge wine selection which the staff, after careful tasting, pairs with certain dishes. The presentation of the food is also impressive and contributes to the overall feeling of excellence Il Angolo projects.
The bread we got at the beginning of our meal was neatly arranged in a cone-shaped silver basket while my Spanish salad, consisting of baby spinach, mango and orange, was served on a long, rectangular plate.
Solano is also always open to suggestions. During my time at the restaurant, the waitress offered to let me pick out or combine some menu options if I wasn’t satisfied with the vegetarian options. Solano even encourages people to call ahead of time if they would like a specific dish, so he can order the seafood accordingly.
Solano went to culinary school in San Francisco and has been involved in the restaurant business for the last 10 years. He first worked in San Francisco and then Chicago, cooking at French and Italian restaurants.
He visited a friend in Appleton four years ago and, seeing a lot of potential in the Appleton area, decided to move here himself. Solano first worked at Peggy’s, the charming bistro formerly of College Avenue.
When a location opened up on Appleton Street, they saw an opportunity to open their own restaurant. Though Solano has found that most people here aren’t as accustomed to going out as the clientele in Chicago, the restaurant has still been received well by the community. Though Il Angolo is not within the price range of the average Lawrence student, it is a great place for a nice date or dinner when your parents come to town. For more information about Il Angolo or to see their weekly and monthly specials, go to http://www.ilangolo-appleton.com.

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