PHOENIXVILLE - Traditional Italian food prepared by Felicia Cannuli is happily consumed alongside her poetry, which hangs from the walls of Cannuli's Restaurant.

The "fifty-plus" married mother of one serves Italian cuisine on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and for breakfast on Sundays.

She said that her work day often begins with prep work at 7 a.m.

Cannuli said that most diners at the family-run restaurant call her "Mom."

"I treat everybody like family," said Cannuli. "It's like coming home.

"Ninety-seven percent of the customers know each other. People talk across the room to each other."

Cannuli admits that her favorite food is a cheese steak. She said that she and her daughter Daniella run things along with waitress Pat Smith, who has worked at Canulli's for 18 years.

She met her husband Angelo, or "Rocky," as a customer more than 20 year ago.

Wood plaques inscribed with Canulli's poetry grace the eatery's walls.

"It is my way of relaxing and expressing a lot of emotions," she said.

While nine poems hang for public display, Cannuli has penned 142 poems on such diverse subjects as domestic abuse, motherhood, divorce and Marilyn Monroe.

She edits for grammar and punctuation, but her original thoughts stand mostly untouched from when she first puts pen to paper. She wrote poetry as a child but the interest was reawakened in 1998.

"An idea can come at two o'clock in the morning so I keep paper under the bed," she said. "Seeing other people read my poetry brings me a lot of joy because each poem means something different to each person."

Cannuli started working 24 years ago at the BYOB restaurant, which was formerly a meat market and grocery store run by her uncle.

Spaghetti without meat priced at $4.45 is part of an affordably priced menu and includes a soup and salad. Sliced, pounded and breaded at the restaurant, veal is the highest priced menu item at $13.95. The average priced entree runs about $7. The 65-seat restaurant is located at 1033 W. Bridge Street.

The following is a poem written for Marilyn Monroe by Cannuli.

Couldn't See

She couldn't see the beauty and grace that God had placed upon her face

Couldn't see past the hurt and lies, the schemes, the ploys, the alibis.

Dreams they came to set her free

But for some reason she couldn't see

She couldn't see what others did

All she saw was the pain she hid.

Copyright 2000, Felicia Cannuli

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