Taste of Little Italy
Ferry St., Troy, 272-6100. Serving dinner Wed-Sat from 4 PM.
price range: $8 (grilled chicken) to $15 (veal parmigiana)
It’s been a fairly quiet homecoming for Sam Zolio. He opened
Anselmo’s with no fanfare a few months before hosting a grand
opening last month. He describes it as a “no-nonsense Italian
restaurant.” And his unique, satisfying way with Mediterranean
cuisine will soon end the comparative peace the restaurant
seems currently to be enduring.
The place needs to be busy, because it’s the closest thing
we have in the Capital Region to a true Mott Street Little
Italy restaurant, and such restaurants are at their best when
the party is in full swing.
Nevertheless, we found much to enjoy during a pair of comparatively
quiet visits. The building has been extensively remodeled
but retains the spirit of the old Sam’s. Again, the walls
are crowded with photos, the lighting is restrained, the music
Sinatra and familiar Italian opera arias.
You enter the bar area, which also has a couple of tables.
Two dining rooms lie beyond that, and beyond the dining rooms
is a comfortable lounge. Dining room tables are white-linened,
and each sports a candle and a couple of bottles of wine.
Places are set once you enter, or in anticipation of your
A generous selection of specials enhances the two-page menu,
all sharing a fairly insane pricing approach. Steak pizzaiola,
for instance, was $14, and we’re talking about at least 20
ounces of beef. It was a tender, tasty cut, grilled exactly
to my specification. (“On the rare side of medium-rare,” I
usually say, because medium-rare typically translates, these
days, to medium.)
It seems an unlikely pairing, but the meat is served atop
a marinara which packs a powerful garlic punch—perfect for
a steak like this. A side of ziti completes the dish.
After a starter of bruschetta, a special that day, with a
tapenade-like topping rich in olives and capers, as well as
a sampling of other appetizers on the table, I wasn’t about
to finish the steak (it was great the next morning with some
scrambled eggs). And who would have thought the bruschetta
would be so filling?
I was warned by the server, but heeded not the advice. I’ll
know better in the future. These are servers you can trust
for food advice—probably lots of other advice, too. There’s
an energetic floor crew that works cooperatively, so you’re
not relying on one person alone to see to your needs. Which
is as it should be.
Other appetizers we sampled include the salad caprese ($7),
a plate of fresh mozzarella paired with tomato slices, enhanced
with big bits of basil. A classic. Add a little bread and
you’ve already got a meal. I was headed toward the provolone
cheese-Genoa salami plate ($7) when the server pointed out
that the antipasto ($10) gives me the same thing with a lot
Roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, anchovies:
They’re items that are available in separate appetizer plates,
but in combination take your palate so much further, and give
you bargaining power when trying to taste the other apps at
your table—like the sautéed artichokes ($8), a big portion
of battered and fried artichoke hearts, served with a lemon-scented
Your server will ask if it’s OK to put in a order of garlic
bread ($4). And you’ll say yes, because you’ll want to add
the crunch and garlic to whatever else you’re starting with.
Make no mistake: This is bread liberally coated with thin,
magnificent slices from the clove!
Pasta dishes dominate the entrée list, and the house special,
pasta Anselmo ($13) is as good as such a dish gets. Sausage
and broccoli are added, tossed in a cream sauce that’s cheese-rich.
Similarly, fettuccine Alfredo ($11) gives you a cream sauce
without the vegetables, but the velvety texture of the dish
Of course there’s marinara as a topping ($9), along with olive-studded
puttanesca ($10), caprese with mozzarella ($11), and pasta
piselli ($10), with prosciutto and peas added to the tomato
sauce. It’s probably a little early in the season for pasta
primavera ($11), which did have asparagus as one of its spring
vegetables. But we also saw zucchini poking through, and we’re
still on winter overload from squash.
Otherwise, look for chicken (grilled or parmigiana), grilled
pork loin ($9), some calamari preparations, and a little shrimp.
It’s reliable stuff, much of which Sam has been offering in
his previous restaurant incarnations. He was at this same
spot when we reviewed him in 1992; three years later he was
running Sam’s Ninety-Five in Saratoga, while the Ferry Street
address went through a succession of publike identities.
Upon learning last year that the building was for sale, he
got back in business and his fans already are finding and
enjoying the place. “Their tastes are changing, though,” he
notes. “Used to be you couldn’t keep osso bucco for five minutes.
Now I have leftovers.”
If it’s a special when you visit, try it. Or try the three
musketeers ($14), which lets you sample chicken parmigiana,
eggplant rollatini and brasciole all in the same dish. It’s
the kind of thing Sam serves up like a virtuoso. It’s great
to have him back.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
spring with a wine-tasting dinner Apr 14-17 at
the Saratoga Lake Bistro (Route 9P, where
Saratoga meets Stillwater) where a four-course
dinner is offered with three glasses of wine for
$45 (not including tax and tip). You have a choice
of appetizer, each paired with an appropriate
wine. Entrées include poached salmon on a bed
of creamy spinach served with steamed mussels
and a 2004 Petit Bourgeois (Loire) Sauvignon Blanc,
grilled filet mignon topped with a four-peppercorn-and-Cognac
sauce served with a 1998 Chateau Bel Air Haut
Médoc, and roasted leg of spring lamb rubbed with
Rosemary and garlic, served with a 2002 Guigal
Côtes du Rhone. A cheese selection and dessert
follows. Wine experts will go from table to table
to give you information about the wine selection.
And note that the outdoor deck is now open! Call
the restaurant for reservations: 587-8280 (www.saratogalakebistro.com).
. . . Paul Parker, chef-owner of Chez Sophie
Bistro (Route 9, Malta) is offering the last
cooking class before the summer season kicks in
at 11 AM on Sunday, May 29. The theme is appetizers
and hors d’oeuvres, and will be a voyage through
the kind of fare you make at home for dinner parties—and
dishes to take to parties to impress your friends.
The class culminates with a 4 PM sit-down meal.
Because the class is a very hands-on experience,
it’s limited to 12 participants, and the cost
is $125 per person, which includes instruction,
food and wine. To reserve a place, call the restaurant
at 583-3538 (www.chez sophie.com). . . . Remember
to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail:
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..