Hunka Wood-Fired Love
Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-3333. Serving Sun-Wed 5-9,
Thu-Sat 5-10 (and later daily as warranted). AE, D, MC, V.
pizza and pub fare
price range: $8 (small pizza) to $21 (steak au poivre)
Gone are the ’50s geegaws: the record album covers, the linoleum-topped
tables, the jukebox, the pages from Life and Look.
Bruno’s has been streamlined. When it opened, in 1986, it
charmed us with its good food and nonstop memorabilia.
But cute puppies soon grow up and lose that hobbledehoy charm.
“It needed a makeover,” says new owner Davis Mead. “It just
wasn’t me. I couldn’t do Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob.” Mead
is a co-owner of Siro’s, the fine-dining restaurant across
Union Avenue that he’s been part of for a third of its 75
years. More to the point, he’s a thoroughgoing Thoroughbred
racing fan, and he considers Saratoga to be the epicenter
of that attraction. “We have the National Racing Museum down
the street, the Oklahoma Track out the back door, and across
the street is the best track in the country, if NYRA gets
its act together.”
Instead of Elvis memorabilia crowding the walls, you’ll see
racing-related photos and prints. Replacing the sprawling
former menu is a short, brisk list of appetizers, pizzas,
sandwiches and a few choice entrées. As before, the pizza
bakes in a wood-fired oven, and everything is made from scratch.
“We start each morning with a 50-pound bag of flour,” says
He adds: “We pared down the menu and added a few things. We’ll
be changing the menu again soon. And if there’s something
you used to have at Bruno’s that you don’t see on the menu
now, just ask us. If we have the ingredients, we’ll make it.”
He notes that he was so advised, not too long ago, “by a boy
who must have been 7 or 8. He thought we should be serving
macaroni and cheese. So we made it for him.”
My prevailing image of Bruno’s, that long, green building
with the neon signs across Union Avenue from the flat track,
is that of a crowded, noisy place where you’re forced to fight
for attention. In its new incarnation, the floor seems less
jammed and we had an excellent rapport with the servers—and
Mead himself is also on the floor, making sure all is running
What first hits your table is a basket of freshly baked rolls
and a dish of seasoned oil and vinegar. With a couple of soups,
five appetizers, eight entrées and, of course, a bunch of
pizza combinations to choose among, you won’t agonize long.
Pizza, of course, is the longtime draw, and its longtime spirit
has been preserved even if the naming conventions have changed.
If you’re looking for pie with the usual, the toppings are
listed, with a few less-common items like smoked gouda, caramelized
onions, feta, grilled eggplant and even pineapple.
But the eight specialty pizzas (tagged now with race-related
monikers) offer tempting combos. Sea Biscuit, for instance,
sports goat cheese and bacon along with roasted garlic and
fresh tomatoes; John Henry is a melange of zucchini, snow
peas, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and more. We tried the
Four Star Dave because my daughter is nuts about barbecued
chicken pizza; this one adds cilantro, smoked gouda, Bermuda
onion, and fresh tomato slices, on a crust that is crisp but
still chewy. $14 gets you a large specialty pizza, $10 a small.
Tucked under the pizza listing are a couple of calzones; the
East Ave. ($10), which we sampled, was a sprawling assembly
of chicken slices sautéed in garlic-thyme butter, with ham
and a mix of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
Heading the apps list is antipasto ($13), a meal-in-itself
compote of choice cold cuts (sopressata, prosciutto, sliced
ham, aged provolone, among others) on a big bed of greens.
Roasted red pepper, marinated eggplant, kalamata olives and
artichoke hearts are other ingredients.
The $8 spinach-and-artichoke dip is creamy and rich, served
in a hot gratin dish; a little spicy, perhaps, but that’s
a flavor that fades up against the tostada chips served alongside.
The entrée list runs an impressive gamut, from a $12 plate
of spaghetti and meatballs to a $21 steak au poivre.
Most of the items are Italian-inspired: eggplant parmigiana
($14), chicken piccatta ($16) and homemade lasagna ($14) among
them. In the specialty-sandwiches department, a meatball hoagie
($9) proved its worth both in terms of the quality of the
meat and sauce and in the size of the damned thing, which
provided a lunch the following day.
Although right now Bruno’s is a dinner-only operation, Mead
is looking at offering breakfast once the Oklahoma Track opens
in May. Meanwhile, now that the revamped Bruno’s has been
open for over a month, he’ll celebrate Sunday’s Super Bowl
with a party. “We’ll be open from 2 PM until the game ends,”
he says. “It’ll be our Grand Reopening-Super Bowl-Elvis has
left the building party. Pizza and wings will be on us.”
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Franklin turned 300 a couple of days ago, and
in celebration of that signal event, Brown’s
Brewing Company (425 River St., Troy) has
made a commemorative brew. Head brewer Peter Martin
joins more than 100 craft brewers across the nation
who are also tapping their versions of “Poor Richard’s
Ale.” It’s sponsored by the Brewers’ Association,
a national nonprofit trade association for craft
brewers that has partnered with one of Franklin’s
descendants to create a recipe for the participants.
According to Martin, the recipe includes molasses
and corn, two items that were abundant during
Colonial times. The brew will be available throughout
the month. For more info, call the brewery at
273-2337. . . . It’s an easy transition from Franklin
to France, although Dr. F may have been too egalitarian
to enjoy La Fête des Rois (The Festival
of Kings). Nevertheless, it will be celebrated
at the Saratoga Lake Inn & Bistro (511
Route 9P, Saratoga Lake) Jan. 27 and 28. The festival
is a French tradition that dates back to 1311;
to celebrate, chef-owner Eric Masson’s menu offers
a choice of appetizer (ham and mushroom crepe,
escargot sautéed with wild mushrooms, or quiche
Lorraine), mixed greens with goat cheese or a
country soup with green cabbage and ham, and an
entrée (chicken and vegetables with a velouté
sauce, sirloin steak Bordelaise, or sole amandine).
Dessert features a cake called Gallette des
Rois with a hidden surprise. Dinner is $29
per person plus tax and gratuity, and parties
of six or more will receive a chef-selected complimentary
bottle of wine. Reserve seats by calling 587-8280.
. . . New World Home Cooking Co. (Route
212, Saugerties) is holding a July in January
weekend Jan. 20 and 21, a tropically themed event
that features summer food, exotic music and a
free island drink for those who dress for the
beach. Among the menu items: Cayman conch chowder,
callaloo soup, sweet plantain pasteles, conch
fritters, curried goat, Haitian griot of pork
and much more. Friday night enjoy the world beat
of Tumbao Blue; Saturday Night gets even hotter
with the Afro-Cuban dance band Los Taino. Make
reservations by calling (845) 246-0900. . . .
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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..