La Cañada Flintridge's Cafe Solé has a Manhattan Italian restaurant feel to it, with a modern but classical decor. It's certainly not what you would expect in a strip mall. The restaurant is close enough to the Glendale (2) Freeway to hit it with a frozen meatball.
The restaurant had my party of three hooked with the complimentary bruschetta — fresh ciabatta served with a tomato salsa with olive oil — that raised our dining expectations.
Cafe Solé has been open only a few weeks under new-old ownership. A large banner hanging from the restaurant's patio awning declares that "The original owner is back — ANTONIETTA." Antonietta is an older woman with a ready smile and a motherly disposition. When asked if they bake their own bread, Antonietta was quick to reply, "We have an Italian bakery bring us our bread," she said, with an emphasis on the "Italian."
There were a number of items on the menu that whetted my appetite, but I settled on the Penne Arrabiata with spicy Italian tomato sauce ($11.95). It was excellent. The sauce was a perfect blend of spices and the serving portion satisfying.