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In this day of lean cuisine spurred on by our national fitness craze, it takes a lot of courage and confidence to name a restaurant "The Stuft Noodle." Some fat gram counters might even suggest that the owner might be a little soft in the noodle.

But The Stuft Noodle in Ivy Place has been pleasing palates with a predictable menu of Italian and American favorites for a decade, and there doesn't seem to be any decline in popularity. During our dinner visit in the middle of the week, our efficient and occasionally breathless waitress was attentively taking care of the demands of couples, families and other regular customers situated in the spacious and simply appointed dining room.The minestrone soup ($1.75 for a cup, $2.75 for a bowl), with an almost stewlike texture, and the rich tomato sauce that came with the fried mozzarella sticks ($4.45) indicated a heartiness of seasonings in the kitchen. A homemade Italian dressing on the iceberg lettuce dinner salad with a hint of herbs was straightforward and simple.

The same directness was evident with the other dishes we sampled, including an Italian meatball sandwich with tomato sauce ($5.25) served on garlic bread; and the bacon and cheese burger ($4.95) piled high with lettuce, onion and sliced tomato.

The Italian classic combination plate ($7.50) featured several homemade meat-filled raviolis, spaghetti (unfortunately slightly watery and overcooked), and a flavorful lasagna. Our favorite was the cannelloni , large noodles "stuft" (sic!) with sausage, beef and spinach, and covered with a meaty tomato sauce. We topped off our filling meal with a large and sweet heated peach cobbler a la mode.

The only real disappointments were the institutional spongy slices of garlic bread, promised on the menu to be "fresh baked," and an overly sweet homemade potato salad that came with the sandwiches. For future visits we'll try the homemade french fries.

Other items on the extensive dinner menu include baked, filled potato skins; cheese nachos; buffalo wings (appetizer prices average $4); several salads including seafood and chef's; manicotti, tortellini, fettucine Alfredo; Italian sausage and green peppers with spaghetti; veal and chicken parmigiana; chicken tetrazzini; Cajun-style cod filet; a variety of Italian- and American-style sandwiches and hamburgers; pasta primavera and other vegetarian dishes. A la carte dinner prices range between $6 and $8. In addition to the cobbler, spumoni ice cream, New York-style cheese cakes and mud pie are served for dessert. A dinner feast is slightly more, though it includes dessert, soft drink and a choice of soup or salad.

The Stuft Noodle offers diners the kind of Italian and American fare that has served the culinary mainstream for generations without fuss or fads.

Rating: * * *

The Stuft Noodle, Ivy Place, 4700 S. 900 East, 268-4440. Open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.; opening at 8 a.m. on Saturday; and until 8 p.m. on Sunday. Accepts major credit cards and check with guarantee card. Items available for take out.

- NOTE: If your gift for Father's Day seemed to disappoint dear old Dad (Hey, I know those ragged underwear have to be replaced someday!), then do a follow-up with Dick Stucki's latest fiber-filled cookbook, "Chili and Fixin's." I found the recipes readable and appetizing. And it offers more than just chili, with award-winning formulas for cornbread and coleslaw. If not available in your favorite bookstore, contact Bonneville Publishing, P.O. Box 65552, Salt Lake City, UT 84165.