Like Mom Used to Make
146 & 146A, Clifton Park, 371-7313. Serving Sun noon-9,
Mon 11-9, Tue-Thu 11-10, Fri 11-11, Sat 11-10. AE, D, MC,
pizza and easygoing Italian fare
price range: $8 (meatless pasta) to $17 (stuffed garlic
Mama is not at Mama’s any more. Stephanie Van Auken presided
there for some 22 years, but sold the place about two months
ago to Matt Williams, who hasn’t really changed much about
It’s a somewhat lonely outpost amid a sea of chain restaurants
and fast-food outlets in Clifton Park, and, with that level
of competition, it holds its own. There’s an extensive menu
in addition to pizza selections, and you have the option of
take-out with all of the items.
Eating in is more comfy than you’d guess from the outside
of the diminutive building. Nothing fancy, but you won’t suffer
the phalanx of TV sets and/or fatuous wall decorations you’d
see in such joints as Applebee’s or Ruby Tuesday. And the
menu here is more reasonably priced.
Our server thoughtfully mentioned that to order antipasto
with a salad bar yonder would be excessive, and so we instead
sampled other appetizers with a platter of samples ($8). You
already know what’s coming: fried mozzarella sticks, chicken
fingers and jalapeno poppers and a few cheese-rich, bacon-encrusted
potato skins. We ate of them sparingly, having learned from
long experience that they tend to take over the appetite.
(As a next-day leftovers treat, they fare poorly when microwave
Besides, the salad bar beckoned. It’s a standard-fare assembly,
but with a generous array of side salads. The greens are fresh
and the bar was freshened frequently during the time of our
visit. It’s definitely a two-trips kind of array, especially
if you want to keep your green salad and items like pasta
If you’d rather have a served-at-the-table salad, they’re
available in the dinner, chef’s, chicken Caesar and Buffalo
chicken varieties, priced from $5 to $10 depending upon size
You have a cornucopia of other appetizers, soups, salads,
subs, burgers, wings and the like in addition to more formal
entrées to choose from, abetted by a specials list that changes
regularly. The personality of your meal will depend on what
you want to get out of the place, but it will be casual and
the food won’t offer any surprises. This place is about items
like pasta Milano and pizza.
Pasta Milano ($15) mixes large shrimp with broccoli florets
and decorations of red peppers and prosciutto over a big bowl
of linguine. The flavors speak for themselves, boosted with
plenty of garlic. It’s a huge serving, and can be split for
two for an extra $4.
A number of similar dishes fall under the menu’s “gourmet
pasta” category, like angel hair with broccoli ($11), fettuccine
Alfredo ($12, add chicken or shrimp for $4), and linguine
with clam sauce ($12).
Meat-based entrées include chicken and eggplant—including
a multi-sized chicken parmigiana, which ranges from an 8-ounce
serving ($10) to a four-cheese-topped pound ($16). In the
all-things-to-all-diners category, you’ll find chicken Sorrento
($16), which features eggplant and cappicola, listed next
to chicken fingers ($10), the worst thing ever to happen to
a poor hen.
The $15 veal parmigiana turns out to be a giant portion with
suitably tender cutlets of breaded veal beneath a good sauce
and a lot of mozzarella cheese. (For a dollar more, it’s available
with a confluence of four cheeses.) Traditional items like
veal and peppers ($12) and veal Sorrento ($15) also are available.
Seafood items include stuffed sole ($12), which revealed itself
as a plump but somewhat dry roll of fish with a bready crabmeat
filling and butter as a principal flavoring agent. There are
a few shrimp dishes, a $10 fish-and-chips dinner, baked or
fried scallops ($14) and fried clams ($10), among other items.
For the Atkins crowd, there are low-carb items scattered throughout
the menu, identified as such in a back-page listing.
Then there’s pizza. We paid another visit, this time as takeout
customers, to cash in one of the menu coupons: $2 off a 12-cut
pie with an order of 20 chicken wings and a two-liter bottle
of soda. We phoned it in, found parking alongside the restaurant,
and watched, impressed, as the assembly line of teenage workers
distributed an impressive stream of such orders to the parade
No surprises with the wings, which were crisp and remained
so because they weren’t drowning in sauce. A broccoli-sausage
pizza ($13.50) was as expected, a mainstream preparation in
a field crowded with better and worse.
There are house specialty pies, too, like the blue-cheese
and chicken-wing pizza, which I’m eager to sample, the lasagna
pizza, and even a breakfast pizza made with eggs, mozzarella,
and your choice of breakfast meat (bacon is one of them).
In sum, Mama’s perseveres in a neighborhood that has changed
fantastically over the years. Its pricing and service and
decor identify it as a middle-of-the-road eatery and it fulfills
this category nicely.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Cappiello Festa Italiana takes place this
weekend (Friday-Sunday, June 24-26) in Schenectady’s
Central Park. It’s an annual celebration of Italian
culture with food, children’s activities, bocce,
cooking and wine demonstrations, casino games,
children’s rides, strolling mandolinist and vocal
musicians, several bands and dance groups. Featured
entertainment is by the Tuscan Duo at 8 PM Saturday
and tenor Michael Amante at 7 PM Sunday. Admission
is free. For more info, check out www.festa-italiana.com,
or call 372-5656. . . . The Van Dyck Restaurant
(237 Union Street, Schenectady) begins brewing
beer again this week. The facility was part of
the Van Dyck’s extensive refurbishment eight years
ago and welcomes back brewmaster Jason Furman,
who was part of the original crew. He’s promising
to start off with an amber ale, an India Pale
Ale, a traditional German wheat beer and a raspberry
wheat beer; the second week of brewing will produce
the Van Dyck’s “Coal Porter,” a classic pilsner,
the popular “Edison Electric Light” and a traditional
English bitter. Furman will be brewing in the
evenings, when customers can watch him at work.
For more information, call the restaurant at 381-1111.
. . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
(e-mail food@banils son.com).
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..