By B.A. Nilsson
2nd Ave. (at 125th Street), Troy, 237-8888. Serving daily
11-10. MC, V.
Mediterranean and pizza
price range: $$5 (gyro, ziti) to $15 (mixed shish-kabob
levels revealed themselves during the course of a visit to
Anatolia. First, and simplest, is that of a pizza joint. Pies
emerged from the oven, flew into boxes, headed out the door.
Then there’s the family-dining eatery. People were schlepping
their kids in and out. Pasta and wings were served, sodas
chugged. As befits the building’s legacy as the onetime Colonial
We were there because of rumors of Mediterranean fare, rumors
well confirmed when my urfa kabob arrived. It’s a skewered
sliver of lamb and beef, ground and seasoned and grilled ($10).
It’s served on a plate dressed with tasty rice pilaf, alongside
another, yellowish pilaf with a contrasting flavor—more nutty—that
turned out to be bulghur.
Alongside was a puffy loaf of lavash bread, with a
garlic-yogurt dipping sauce. If this sounds like Ali Baba,
the wonderful Mediterranean restaurant on Troy’s 15th Street,
it’s no coincidence: Anatolia owner Max Baikal worked in Albany
alongside Ali Baba owner Huseyin Cakal a few years ago, and
Cakal urged his friend to start his own place.
So don’t be surprised by the similarities. A major difference,
and this was yet another level revealed, is the friendly comfort
of the place. It’s a little fancier than its southern neighbor,
although it’s really the difference between casual and very
casual. But Baikal has decorated his restaurant with fabrics
and artifacts from his native Turkey, and the items, revealed
to us during a tour of the place, are beautifully crafted.
The kitchen is pretty much out in the open, and the main dining
room gives you a view of the culinary proceedings. There’s
another adjacent room, although we avoided it because it featured
a long table set for many and sporting a reserved sign, and
there’s no dining hell worse than being stuck beside a party
of a dozen or more, all clamoring to be heard at once.
As it turned out, both rooms remained relatively subdued while
we were there, which was just as well: Baikal was working
the floor himself; keeping up well with the orders, it’s true,
but not able to pause for too long.
Because dips like hummus (based on chickpeas) and baba ganouj
(based on grilled eggplant) are such staples of the cuisine,
they feature both as independent starters ($4 and $5, respectively)
and as part of a mixed appetizer plate ($8) that serves as
an excellent place to start. Add some stuffed grape leaves,
redolent of mint and parsley, a grilled eggplant salad and
a red kidney bean stew (pilaki) and you’ve got plenty
to work with. The hummus was light and unusually refreshing;
the baba ganouj had an unexpectedly smoky flavor to it that
caused it to be consumed quite quickly.
We sampled hot appetizers as well, starting with another classic
bean-based dish: falafel ($5). It’s usually served as a sandwich
in pita with lettuce and onions and a yogurt sauce, but here
as a starter the fried chickpea patties are served atop their
brethren of hummus. Excellent textures, too, with an herb-rich
flavor that lingered.
You may be used to the phyllo-wrapped baklava, a crunchy dessert
of honey-sweetened walnuts (available here for $4); phyllo
is also used on the cigar boreks, a hot appetizer ($5)
that arrives looking like cigar-sized cookies; they’re filled
with seasoned feta cheese, and leave such banalities as fried
mozzarella sticks in the dust.
An Anatolian salad ($5) for the table sets off the hot stuff
nicely. Along with an array of greens are tomatoes, red cabbage
and green peppers, in an olive-oil-and-lemon-juice dressing.
We completely skipped the portion of the menu dealing with
pizza and wings, but noted that gyros (the real thing) are
available for $5. But we did sample a pizza-like pide,
in which the pastry is shaped like a pointy Italian loaf,
available with a variety of meats and cheeses ($8). The chicken
variety included tomatoes and green peppers—and we added cheese
for $1. Otherwise, look for ground beef or even, bringing
more of the Mediterranean together, pepperoni.
The meat for a gyro is traditionally a seasoned loaf of lamb
and beef that is slow-cooked on a rotisserie before it’s scraped
onto a big round of pita. You can also get it as a doner
kabob plate ($10), where it’s topped with a rich, dark sauce
and accompanied by the pilafs mentioned earlier.
They also complete the shish kabob plates, which feature chicken,
beef, vegetables or lamb; we sampled the last-named ($13)
and couldn’t get over how good the meat was, very much showing
signs of a good marinade and a charcoal grill.
There’s much more to explore here; if you live in Lansingburgh,
you’re lucky to have it near you. This is a cuisine of which
I never tire, and the pricing—and wonderful hospitality—makes
it an appealing stop for repeated visits.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
in North Adams, Mass., recently was awarded a
three-diamond rating by AAA, an honor given only
to the highest-caliber restaurants. In addition
to the new AAA rating, the restaurant was rated
4.7 out of 5 at Fodors.com and was given four
stars (out of five) on NYTimes.com in 2004. Gramercy
Bistro is a chef-owned and -operated restaurant
that serves creative American cuisine with a focus
on local, farm-fresh ingredients. The restaurant
is located across from the MASS MoCA campus at
24 Marshall St. Call (413) 663-5300 for more info.
. . . Brush off your palate for a dinner and wine-tasting
event at Parisi’s Steakhouse (11 N. Broadway,
Schenectady) at 7 PM Monday (June 6). Featured
are Wine Merchants’ Picks for the Summer, with
Wine Merchants representative Joe Benny to guide
you through the selections. It’s a six-course
meal with five wines; they include blackened chicken
with parmesan risotto paired with a White Haven
(New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc; grilled summer
vegetables & chorizo with a Frei Brothers
(Russian River Valley, California) Pinot Noir;
and a Frei Brothers Merlot to highlight grilled
swordfish with beef steak tomato and peppered
vinaigrette. The event is $50 plus tax and tip,
and reservations are required. Call 374-0100.
. . . The New York State Department of Agriculture
& Markets’ Pride of New York program kicks
off a series of farm-to-table dinners tomorrow
(Friday) at Howe Caverns Restaurant in
Schoharie County, which will continue every Friday
in June and September. Menus (created by Howe
Caverns executive chef JoAnne Cloughly) will feature
Pride of New York products while members share
recipes and product samples with attendees. For
more info, call 457-3136 or visit www.prideofny.
com. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
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..