Duanesburg Road (Route 7), Schenectady, 355-2090. Serving
dinner daily 4-10. MC, V.
traditional Italian and pizza
price range: $10 (many pasta dishes) to $39 (surf and
party of five, sitting at a nearby table, was deep in a friendly
but gesticulation-filled conversation—happy to be with one
another; breaking into the various two- and three-person conversational
permutations that such a group invites.
And then the food arrived: five entrée plates, neatly arrayed
on a tray that the server carried high over her head. She
deftly swung the tray down onto an unfolded stand and, with
the help of the hostess, distributed the dishes, each to the
person who ordered the item, without resorting to the “Who
ordered the linguine?” line of questioning.
What was most compelling was the expression on the face of
each of the diners whom I could see. Needless to say, the
conversation stopped. The eyes widened. Faces brightened as
the aromas, a swirl of garlic and onions and hot tomatoes,
spread. One woman did exactly as I ritually do when a plate
is placed before me: She rotated it slightly to better align
it as a work of art to be considered before the initial gustatory
They were so delighted to see this banquet spread before them
that the joy was infectious. I wanted to join them. I saw
a wine bottle make its way around the table. And then they
began to eat, their conversation now a series of hushed ahhs
You have to understand that there’s nothing fancy about this
restaurant. The large dining room looks pleasant, but it’s
dark, and the decor is a little heavy- handed. Beyond is a
bar area where you also can dine if you need TV screens as
companions. Nevertheless, it’s very comfortable, which is
also a factor of the very pleasant servers who never fail
to attend to your table.
Originally started back in 1978, in a strip mall on Rotterdam’s
Curry Road, Jerry and Leah Guidarelli’s Roman Villa moved
to its present location as the moribund mall lost its anchor
store, replacing a tavern called the Rustic Loft.
The business has a tripartite persona: There’s the full-service
restaurant; there’s a take-out business that sends a lot of
pizza (among other items) across the counter; and there’s
catering available. During a couple of recent visits, we tried
to get a feel for the more formal end of things, which is
You probably want to be assured right off about the pizza:
It’s excellent stuff. The homemade crust is thick and pleasantly
yeasty, adding a welcome crunch to the proceedings. My daughter
has yet to attain her old man’s fondness for pepperoni—or
perhaps she’s simply saving me from myself. Whatever the case,
she likes broccoli on a pizza, but wants it with a red sauce.
So be it. I persuaded her to add sausage, and those toppings
work well together (add $1.50 per to an eight-cut pie, itself
Most of it was boxed for us because, by then, we’d consumed
the better part of an order of chicken wings ($7), which are
as expected, but commendably served without too much drippy
sauce. Boneless wings were a special that evening for the
same price, but we agreed that the gnawing-off-the-bone routine
is a pleasurable part of the dish.
The menu covers a traditional array of Italian favorites,
beginning with antipasto ($10 for two, $12 for four), and
ranging through soups, other salads, the usual appetizers,
pasta dishes (featuring, in some cases, homemade pasta), seafood,
chicken, veal—you know what to expect.
A basket of Italian loaf and garlic sticks hits the table
once you’re seated, and there’s garlic-infused olive oil,
as well as butter, as an accompaniment. Salad or soup comes
with most entrées, and the salad is an especially good mix
of greens that even included beet greens during one of my
An $8 order of steamers was no surprise—a nice array of clams
served with drawn butter on the side. Another seafood starter,
this one pure dietary evil, is scallops wrapped in bacon ($7)—plump
sea scallops drinking in the bacon fat, and served with honey
mustard in case you need more. I sampled a very seasonal special
of broccoli rabe ($7), the pungent bitterness of the greens
tempered with garlic and vinegar.
Nothing is more satisfying (again, let’s forget the diet for
a moment) than fettuccine Alfredo, that wonderful mixture
of pasta and cream and cheese ($13). Homemade fettuccine made
it even better. The cream and cheese combo was a little thick
for my taste, but it didn’t stop my enjoyment.
Homemade linguine accompanied an order of veal Francaise ($16),
featuring tender scalloppine cuts that are breaded and sautéed,
and served in a lemony white wine sauce laced with garlic.
Textures were good, but I wouldn’t mind some bolder flavoring
in the dish. You could call it undersalted, but I don’t think
salt is always the answer. Experimenting with herbs and pepper
usually leads me to the flavor I seek.
One of the evening’s specials was a pork roast dinner ($12),
an excellent value. A generous array of pork slices is presented,
prepared as promised. Again, it was lighter on flavor than
expected, but its context—a wonderful medley of carrots and
celery and some big slices of roasted potatoes—made it a toothsome
There is an accommodating wine list to help you flesh out
the meal, and a serviceable selection of outsourced desserts
to finish. Service, as noted, couldn’t have been friendlier,
and it’s clear that this restaurant is a boon to its community.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Shaker Museum and Library will open the 2005 season
with its annual Herb, Garden & New Food
Festival on the museum grounds (Shaker Museum
Road, Old Chatham) on Saturday (May 28) from 10
AM to 4 PM. The festival will feature a tasting
tent celebrating the culinary talents of various
area chefs and food purveyors; there will also
be lectures, recipe demonstrations, children’s
activities and a book signing by author Linda
Dannenberg (True Blueberry Recipes for
Soups, Salads, Desserts, and More). Also,
vendors will offer a wide selection of herbs,
plants and other garden items. Admission is free
for museum members; otherwise, adults are $8,
children under 12 $4. . . . Remember to pass your
scraps to Metroland (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
want your feedback
you eaten at any
recently reviewed restaurants?
Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...
address not required to submit your feedback, but required to
be placed in running for a Van Dyck Gift Certificate.
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..