Cabotto’s Italian Restaurant in Stittsville has been open since 1976, but the building itself has a much longer history, which is part of the reason why Cabotto’s is one of the most unique dining experiences in Ottawa.
If you’ve ever driven down Hazeldean in the west end, you will notice two stone farm houses standing amongst the box stores, offices and new developments. It looks as if the city has built itself around them, and indeed it has. One of those stone farmhouses is Cabotto’s Italian restaurant, a family run establishment that serves upscale Italian cuisine and has occupied the building since 2003. Inside and out, the restaurant preserves the heritage of the old building for all to enjoy and has become a distinctive landmark with its steeped gabled roof and gingerbread trim which are characteristic of its Gothic Revival style. While it sits on a smaller lot today, the original property was much larger and owned in two parts. A small log house stood on the property and became a tavern in 1840.The stone house wasn’t built until 1868. It was made with stone from local quarries, lumber from local sawmills and the doors and windows were all handmade.
For the next century, the house would switch from being a tavern, to serving and contracting with the workers on the Central Canada Railway, as its introduction greatly diminished road traffic to the tavern. After the railway was completed, the house became a functioning farm and in 1919, owned by James Bradley, was one of the farms shipping whole milk to Ottawa. In 1926, the house got hydro power.
In 1979, John McCuaig bought and restored the house and opened it as Cafe Luigi’s Restaurant. He preserved the aesthetic of the house and kept a lot of the timely pieces like the small green sign, the bannister leading up the stairwell and the windows and doors. It operated as Luigi’s until 2003 when the Pucci family bought the house and moved their established Cabotto’s Restaurant from Stittsville. Today, Vince and his son Perry Pucci still run Cabotto’s and have recently redone the inside to give it a fresh look while keeping the Gothic Revival feel.
One of the oldest buildings still in use in the West End, Cabotto’s offers a unique dining experience because of the rich history of the house that is so apparent in its aesthetic. Coupled with great Italian cuisine, Cabotto’s is one of Ottawa’s best date night spots and is truly one of our local treasures.
Photography by Roland Bastarche