Dining at Sal's Caffe Italia

Restaurant provides reasonably reliable Italian cuisine


For main dishes, the paninis and subs particularly caught my attention, and I selected the classic "eggplant parmegiana."

Jamie Albert | Cavalier Daily

Restaurant: Sal’s Caffe Italia

Location: 221 East Main Street

Cuisine: Italian

Located on the Downtown Mall right beside the Paramount Theater, Sal's is ideal for a low-key night out on the town. But only if you want a good Italian dish.

The restaurant itself was charming. More on the dimly-lit side of the spectrum, the environment was upscale while still maintaining a cozy feel. I chose to sit in the small outdoor area, as the restaurant's central location on the Downtown Mall offers a great opportunity for people-watching.

Choosing between the various options was tricky. The appetizers particularly looked delicious, from fried ravioli to a dish called "French Fry Misto" with melted mozzarella, Parmesan, ham and garlic aioli all atop fries. I could easily imagine coming here with a large group and sharing several of the appetizers. For main dishes, the paninis and subs particularly caught my attention, and I selected the classic "eggplant parmegiana."

When the dish came out, my eyes went straight to the mozzarella cheese overflowing from in between the bread. I love a high ratio of cheese to other ingredients, and this sandwich definitely fulfilled that criterion. I took the first bite much too eagerly and almost burnt the entire roof of my mouth, but within moments the sandwich was a perfect temperature and I could enjoy the mixture of tomato sauce, mozzarella and breaded eggplant all on a warm bun. I was a little disappointed that my side dish was just potato chips, but ultimately the sandwich was plenty filling and a larger size was not necessary.

The food was enjoyable, but I left feeling rather apathetic and not particularly eager to return for my next Italian food outing. My "eggplant parmegiana" sub was absolutely tasty, but I would not hold it on a pedestal compared to other eggplant parmigianas I’ve had elsewhere.

I still do recommend Sal's if you're looking for a calm night on the Downtown Mall, the ambiance of fine dining and dependable Italian dishes. And given the interesting appetizer choices, the best way to do Sal’s may be with a big group willing to share many appetizers, as many of the main dishes are similar to their counterparts at other restaurants. 

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