Tonight I took a friend out for her birthday and we went to one of our favorite places for Italian food. Cinelli's is located near the WholeFoods at Main St. and Broad St.
Cinelli's opened maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Decent Italian food, the Italian-American variety that someone's mamma in the Bronx or in Philly used to make, is pretty hard to come by in the South. Oh sure there are chains like Macaroni Grill and Maggiano's but they are not the real deal for home cooked Italian-American food.
Guy Cinelli and his brothers have opened up the real deal in a few restaurants around the Triangle. I've only been to the one in Durham. The place recently got some new decor but it's kind of tacky, pseudo Roman villa and I don't like it. The service is also (there is not a nice way to put it) abysmal! It always has been. I don't understand it. Nevertheless, it is worth putting up w/ bad decor and bad service for a few reasons:
1. Pasta with fileto sauce: tomatos, garlic, onion, pancetta
2. Pasta with vodka sauce: fileto sauce plus vodka and cream
3. Pasta cinelli: pasta w/ white beans, escarole, garlic
4. Tortelli a cabonara: cheese tortelli w/ cream and pancetta sauce
5. Grandma's pizza: tomato, mozarella, basil
These dishes demonstrate that you don't have to do anything fancy for it to be good Italian food. Good ingredients well executed is all it takes. Guy Cinelli gets this part right. Never mind about the decor.