Italy Comes to Oswego with Addition of Canale Outer Court – Oswego County Today


Jamie Cunningham and Anthony Saturno of The Dirty Doves sing in Canale’s outdoor courtyard. Photo by Shea O’Malley.

OSWEGO – Did you know that Canale’s Restaurant in Oswego has a stunning outdoor seating area that makes it look like you’ve stepped into an exquisite Italian courtyard? Also, did you know that they have a great upper deck overlooking Utica Street and the ground floor courtyard, while giving you a great view of Oswego’s beautiful sunsets? Oh yeah, and did I mention the deck also connects to an upstairs banquet hall?

Yes, I’m really talking about the Canale Restaurant in Oswego, NY. I’ve walked past the restaurant countless times, thinking the outside was quite nicely decorated with pretty lights and flowers illuminating the city street. Yet, I hadn’t realized there was a gem of a tidy sitting dining yard inside this lovely packaging.

Naturally, my husband and I have eaten at Canale’s several times, but usually inside. I was familiar with the outdoor seating area at the front, but never had a chance to experience it due to lack of planning on my part.

So, for complete (and selfishly personal) editorial purposes, my husband and I quickly drove in for an early Friday night meal.

The warm, melting cheese from my starter stretches endlessly along the tines of my fork, like a utensil full of gluttony entering my mouth; upbeat music playing in the background.

The crust of my Chicken Parmesan is cooked to perfection; my fork cuts through meat with ease, which is bathed wonderfully in warm layers of sauce and cheese.

I’m not sure what to eat next – my Chicken Parm is intoxicating, but so is the Manicotti side dish that came with my meal. Decisions can be so hard, can’t they? The smiling waiter stops quickly at our table to make sure we are enjoying our meals, delighted with my giddy smile and thumbs up sign.

Early evening summer sunlight streams softly through the vine-filled pergola above us, the soft glow of whimsical patio lights illuminating the courtyard with a welcoming hue.

Deep shades of red and yellow cover the courtyard walls with just the right amount of brick, trim, and tile to create an incredibly cohesive patio.

The courtyard is also lined with a dazzling array of lush greenery and colorful flowers that make you feel like you’ve arrived in Tuscany for a well-deserved vacation.

I am completely smitten with the food I eat. I feel like I’m in Italy, succumbing to a nirvana of culinary bliss in this amazing outdoor getaway.

Waiter Richard Barnes giving a wink and a smile while working. Photo by Shea O’Malley

Upstairs deck area. Photo by Shea O’Malley.A band calling themselves The Dirty Doves, begin playing soft rock music for the public. Everyone I see is having fun in this dream yard.

A seven-year-old boy named Thomas Frye and his young relative get up and start dancing to the music. Frye tells the group that his favorite song is we will Rock You by the queen.

With this song clearly not in their musical repertoire for the evening, the band releases a working version of the song much to the delight of this young boy, his family and all who are watching. It was clearly one of the best parts of the evening.

By obtaining permission to include young people

Thomas Frye and a parent enjoy music. Photo by Shea O’Malley.

story of the boys in this story, I also discover his parents, Chris and Lynn Frye went out for the evening to celebrate their family birthday.

“We live in Syracuse [and] we just had dinner so we’re not local,” (Lynn) Frye said. “They had a location in Liverpool, but they closed it. We went there all the time. We’re climbing [to this location] a few times a year.

“For special occasions,” added her husband. “Our birthday is tomorrow, so we had the whole family in town — so we had our own birthday dinner,” Frye said. “We always love coming to Canales for all our special occasions. We love it and they’ve always been so nice to us, so that’s great.

If you have never been to the outer courtyard of Canale, one can only expect to be served excellent food with top notch service in a wonderfully lovely environment. And if you’re exceptionally lucky, a band will also offer you a favorite song…

An Oswego staple since 1954, Canale’s offers some of the best Italian home cooking in upstate New York.

Co-owner and manager Nick Canale Jr. said the initial phase of their outdoor dining started 17 years ago with a small patio located at the front of the restaurant. The great public reaction got them thinking about adding more outdoor space on the other side of the restaurant with a house they owned and operated on Utica Street.

An upstairs apartment, downstairs offices and a walk-in freezer and cooler in the garage, Canale said they wanted to take advantage of the house’s front yard space while still creating a terrace space connected to the upstairs banquet hall.

Upstairs deck area. Photo by Shea O’Malley.

With the city’s approval, Canale said the porch was ripped out of the house, a new door was opened to the restaurant, the floor was raised with cement and concrete, and construction of the new court had begun.

“So this whole first floor – it’s all part of the restaurant now. We have offices on the second floor of what used to be the house; and the bathrooms, bar and another office are on the first floor of where the house was,” Canale said.

“It’s really done – people seem to like it. We had a lot of help in the early stages of the process from Rich Trombley. Without him, we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it all. He’s a good friend of my dad’s and he helped us with all the concrete – and all the stucco and a lot of masonry and everything. He was a major part of what we did there,” Canale said.

“It was teamwork. We didn’t want to remove from the bottom when we did, and I don’t think we did – I think we made things better because the terrace acts as a roof for part of the space in down now. And having the large sliding glass doors upstairs really opens up this banquet hall to the outdoors.

Canale noted that his cousin Rick Canale and his team created and continue to nurture the beautiful floral arrangements located throughout the outdoor space.

Outdoor terrace overlooking the courtyard. Photo by Shea O’Malley.

Now back to our fantastic Friday night trip to Canales. Our wonderful server Richard Barnes told us he’s been working there for a year now and loves it. He also highlighted how the outer courtyard really had a major impact on the attractiveness of the business.

“The customers are really nice. We get a lot of regulars who are so kind. Sometimes it’s wonderful to see people – to chat and catch up. [We get] lots of regulars – the whole town is pretty much regular,” Barnes said.

“On weekends in the summer, when we have a group, every table is booked. People rent parties here — bridal showers, funerals, graduations — it’s non-stop in the summer,” Barnes added. “If you ever want to make a reservation, definitely do; but if you don’t care to see the band and just listen, the upstairs [deck] large round table is the best view – the sunset is amazing. Upstairs is so nice – it’s a little more private but so much fun,” Barnes said.

Now you might think it’s too late in the summer season to enjoy this fantastic outdoor experience, but you’re in luck. The programming of the Canales group extends until December 9, from Wednesday to Sunday.

Time permitting; bands will be playing in the courtyard, so there is plenty of time to enjoy your outdoor dining pleasure. On days with less good weather, the group will be moved inside.

For more information on the entertainment schedule, including dates and times, please click here. To schedule dinner or banquet reservations, please call 315-343-3540 or click here to visit their website. See you there, and oh yes…enjoy!

*Note: The video was created from a series of photos courtesy of Nick Canale Jr. taken during the creation of their outdoor expansion from start to finish. The video was created by Shea O’Malley with an assortment of some of her own photos/video added for effect.

Kudos to Nick Canale for his time and effort to make this story possible – thank you!

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