By B.A. Nilsson
Saratoga Road, Burnt Hills, 384-3812. Serving lunch and dinner
Tue-Thu 11-9:30, Fri-Sat 11-10, Sun 10-8:30. AE, DC, MC, V.
continental with Italian touches
price range: $13 (chicken and biscuits) to $25 (steak and
handsome Adirondack lodge
The story is familiar: Local boy gets bitten by the restaurant
bug, travels afield while learning the business, comes home
to open his own place. In Cory Masten’s case, he started as
a busboy at the Olde Bryan Inn, worked his way to a waiter’s
position, then went into the kitchen and worked his way through
the stations in there.
Opening his own place shimmered from dream to possibility
when Masten learned that the former Kristel’s Inn was for
sale, but he was thwarted in his first attempt to buy it.
He was on the brink of accepting an executive chef position
elsewhere when he learned that a deal had fallen through,
and he hustled to secure the place.
It’s a venerable place well back from busy Route 50, with
a waterfall on the property that gives the grounds a restful
feel. So Cory and his father set out to offer a similar ambiance
inside, and chose a lodge theme—birchbark, wainscoting, some
snowshoes here and there—that they were able to realize after
nearly 10 months of refurbishment.
place had been empty for two and a half years,” says Masten,
“so there was a lot to do. Fortunately, my dad runs a construction
business and knows what he’s doing.”
Enjoy a beer at the bar and you’d swear you were taking a
break from a High Peaks hike. The combination of natural wood
and well-chosen lighting gives a sense of intimacy that extends
even to the large dining room, where you’ll find large, accommodating
tables and comfortable chairs. It’s a pleasure to see this
quality both of design and construction.
Lunch and dinner aren’t separate entities here: The menu pages
list options of varying size and price, so you can choose
the price range (and portion size) that makes the most sense.
Thus, while my wife and I enjoyed full-fledged dinners, my
daughter was able to have a sandwich.
But we started with too many appetizers, thus ensuring a plenitude
of take-home containers. And this even though so many of those
appetizers are what I think of as bar fare—chicken wings,
mozzarella sticks—that have long since lost their appeal.
the Maryland crab cakes,” our server, a cheerful dynamo named
Madelyn, suggested. The $10 dish justified its price by the
amount of real-thing seafood worked into the diminutive cakes,
rendering the accompanying remoulade pleasant but unnecessary
(although I continued to sully the seafood purity, as I always
do, with dollop after dollop of sauce).
Cream of broccoli soup ($2.50 for a cup), so common an offering,
hit all the right notes with me by being not too thick but
still redolent of cream with a tasty flavor of stock peeking
And when my daughter learned of the combo of chili in a breadbowl
($6.50), she had to have one. I tried to talk her out of it
by observing that it wouldn’t be purist’s chili, insofar as
it probably would contain beans and tomatoes. “Do you really
think everyone cares about these things as much as you do?”
Good of its kind, this chili, a standard ground-beef-and-kidney-bean
stew that passes for this dish in the Northeast. Adding bread
around it and cheese on top approaches excess, but add a mug
of ale to the order and you make a meal of it.
The breadbowl—custom baked, as are the wee loaves placed on
the table—probably was her undoing, because when the Monte
Cristo ($8) arrived, she barely could make it through one
of the sandwich halves. It’s a great version of a disappearing
classic, with thick slices of a Pullman loaf imprisoning a
heap of turkey, then batter dipped and fried as a slab of
Swiss cheese melts over the top.
Several more $7 to $9 sandwiches, hot and cold, fill out the
page, including a big burger. There’s also a light fare page
that includes a couple of dinner salads, chicken and pasta
dishes, and even a small New York sirloin ($14), most priced
from $8 to $12. Under the “Hearty” heading, there’s a turkey
dinner ($14) that my wife would have ordered had Thanksgiving
not just passed. A scallops Rockefeller special ($15), served
with spinach and a wild rice pilaf, proved to be an unusual
and delicious combo with a hint of sweetness that complements
the seafood well.
Although I believe that clams are overrated, the ivory clams
entrée ($19), in which they’re roasted in a white sauce and
finished with cream, was tempting. Not tempting enough to
steer me from Madelyn’s recommendation of the chicken Sorrentino
($19), a huge portion of breast pieces stuffed with prosciutto
and ricotta, mixed with batter-fried eggplant in a tomato
sauce, and served over linguini with a chunk of fresh mozzarella
melting in the middle.
make everything from scratch,” says Masten, “except for a
few of the kids’ menu items. Otherwise, we make our own sauces,
bake our own bread, make our desserts, everything. I don’t
care how hard it may be to do it this way. It’s the way I
We packed it in—and packed it up—with enough room to share
a plate of homemade apple crisp ($4) topped with ice cream,
before reluctantly abandoning what had become an increasingly
comfortable spot, a renewed sense of well-being carrying us
into the frozen night.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
recently celebrated the grand opening of Villa
Italia Pasticceria in a beautiful new building
at 226 Broadway. It signals the rebirth of an
institution that served the city for 40 years
from its former space in Rotterdam. The Mallozzi
family (which also runs their namesake restaurant
in Rotterdam) is positioning itself to be part
of the rebirth of downtown Schenectady itself,
characterized by the expansion of Proctor’s and
the expected arrival of several new shops and
restaurants. The new Villa Italia totals 7,200
square feet, five-sixths of which is given over
to the commercial bakery, producing breads, pastries,
fancy cakes and much more; the retail shop also
features sandwiches and homemade gelato. And the
display cases, true to the family’s roots, were
imported from Italy. . . . Remember to pass your
scraps to Metroland (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
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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..