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Oregon Coast Dining Moment: Fultano's in Cannon Beach

Published 09/19/2011

By Andre' Hagestedt

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – It's a lovely “second summer” day in Cannon Beach, a little town on the north Oregon coast that touts itself as a kind of artist colony. The skies in this part of September are generally in a much better mood than at any other time of year, filled with more blue and less wind, causing the moniker “second summer” to be applied by many locals. The warmth is copious in this otherwise somewhat tempestuous atmosphere, the sun bright, and the beaches themselves a constantly cajoling presence with the calm seas as you pass by each beach access.

At this moment, I am starving, however. The beach and its many wonders will have to wait. Or will it?

Always among my favorites throughout the entire state is Cannon Beach Fultano's – part of a small chain in Oregon, but this one is rather individualistic in its approach. Being a kind of addict of Italian cuisine – and a self-avowed food snob – it takes me a lot to get excited about pastas. So it would seem unlikely that a pizza franchise that catered to the family set would light fires underneath my taste buds. But Fultano's has no ordinary pasta.

Not to mention, there is outdoor seating. Granted, it's not on the beach – but it is within earshot. So those beachy urges of mine suddenly collide nicely with the culinary desires. I sit down outside to the sound of crashing waves just around the corner and that warm coastal air hovering around me.

My perpetual fave is their penne pasta with meat sauce, a sauce developed by owner Dave Johnson years ago when he bought the establishment from his former boss. It's a light and airy combination of seriously fresh tomatoes and a bevy of spices and herbs – apparently also including fennel, among other things. At the same time, there's a powerful tomato taste that won't override that lightness. I personally love this dish with a bunch of meatballs as well, which are a nifty delicacy all their own.

This chimes in at around $12 – and it's huge.

Their remarkable sauce has become the subject of a bit of chatter elsewhere around the state, with some foodie pals and restaurant owners I know in Portland even having discussed it with me in the past. Often, these folks refer to Fultano's lasagna as their favorite (about $10).

Pizzas run from around $13 - $17 for small pies, and up to around $30 for the really large family sizes. These feature plenty of the classics, which also include slightly unusual, intriguing pizzas like one covered in meatballs. Major gourmet additions include the Margherita (garlic and herb olive oil, three cheeses, red onion and more), a Greek-themed specialty, a Goat Cheese pizza, and specialties with Teriyaki Chicken, Linguica, BBQ Chicken and a variety of seafood selections.

Vegetarian specialties are available, and there's a special thin crust recipe as well. They deliver to local hotels. 200 N. Hemlock (entrance on 2nd St.). Cannon Beach, Oregon. 503-436-9717. Cannon Beach Fultano's Website

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