Erie Blvd., Schenectady, 347-2782. Serving lunch Mon-Fri 11-3,
dinner Mon-Thu 11-9, Fri 11-10, Sat 4-10, Sun 1-8. D, MC,
price range: $10 (pasta with meatball or sausage) to
$22 (steak pizzaiola)
with the fact that the Geloso family has been operating or
working in restaurants throughout the Capital Region and beyond
for many years, then take an unlikely spot in downtown Schenectady—a
spot that variously has been a couple of bars and several
restaurants. In hindsight, it seems like it was only a matter
of time before these entities collided.
And that’s to our culinary benefit. When Bambino’s opened
last September, it filled a void in that city’s downtown dining
scene, providing something Schenectady thrives on: a solid
Italian restaurant with a cheerful, family feeling.
and chef Joe Pisano worked together at the Country Inn Diner
in Rotterdam, creating a pleasant period of time during which
the food and service quality rose high above expectations.
“I always wanted a place of my own,” she says, echoing an
attitude that runs through the family. Her father opened Joe’s
Pizza on Hamburg Street, a restaurant now run by her brother.
Her uncle operates Mike’s Pizza in Fonda. Her sister works
in Scotia at Riverstone Manor.
It’s all about food and family here.
Choosing entrées proved more complicated than usual during
a recent visit owing to the plates we saw ferried to neighboring
tables, each more food-laden and appetizingly aromatic than
I don’t equate quantity with quality—in fact, I think it’s
a culinary trap used by mediocre restaurants. But here, at
least, you can count on quantity and quality.
And there are characteristics of Pisano’s cooking that I don’t
practice. Chicken Milanese ($16), for instance, is a sauté
dish, but the huge, breaded cutlet we were served had the
earmarks of a trip through the fryolator. This gives a different,
crisper quality to the cutlet, something some purists may
decry—but I actually rather like it.
But let’s take a look around Bambino’s before we continue
with the meal. Outside, it’s a small, unassuming brick building
on a street struggling to keep commerce alive—where Sears
and Ruby’s Diner and Wallace Armer once thrived. Inside, the
place is about evenly divided between bar and dining room
(the bar is vast), with images of Sinatra, Dino, Marilyn Monroe
and, of course, Babe Ruth on the walls.
Michelle and her crew gutted the place, and the new walls—a
mix of brick, paneling and drywall—and ceiling are part of
a nice package that includes comfortable tables and chairs
and a generally welcoming decor. It’s not in the least fancy,
which is part of its proletarian charm.
The two-page menu is more succinct than in many similar restaurants,
so the agony of committing to a meal is lessened. I was headed
in the seafood direction until I sniffed a passing steak,
but, for the record, there is a $19 seafood Fra Diavolo in
which clams, shrimp and scallops—and calamari, if you wish—are
served with the marinara in which they simmer.
Linguini with red or white clam sauce ($16) is available,
of course, along with shrimp scampi ($18) and stuffed flounder
Ravioli, lasagna, fettuccine or tortellini Alfredo and eggplant
parmigiana are among the Italian entrées listed thusly, ranging
from $10 (pasta with meatball or sausage) to $15 (cavatelli
with broccoli and mushrooms).
Among the meat dishes are a couple of pork preparations, popular
chicken items and the obligatory selection of veal dishes,
from which we tried the parmigiana ($17). Again, it’s a huge
portion, crisply fried and nicely appointed with sauce (like
all sauces here, homemade) and cheese.
And then there’s the steak. “I wasn’t even going to open the
place without a charcoal broiler in the kitchen,” says Michelle,
and she showed me the new, efficient cooking line she had
installed behind the swinging door. A stock pot simmered on
one stove burner; marinara bubbled nearby.
Steak pizzaiola—a pizza-like steak—is one of the restaurant’s
most popular dishes. I learned why. The beef itself, a 14-ounce
strip, was thick enough to emerge rare (as requested) after
sustaining a flavorful burn packed with that evocative charcoal
flavor. The extras—mushrooms, peppers and onions—are a flavor
bonus, “and I season those, too,” says Chef Pisano.
That the soups are made here was obvious from the flavor of
the chicken and vegetable blend we were served (entrées carry
a choice of soup or salad). I expected to taste a lot of chicken,
but the vegetable array added its own striking presence. Similarly,
a cup of greens and beans, here fashioned as a soup, aligned
the classic flavors with a goodly amount of garlic filling
You need something sweet to accompany a post-prandial espresso,
which is why I discovered that Bambino’s brings in a good
spumoni; with that and a calzone to see us into the night,
we left laden with leftovers packages.
never leave hungry,” the menu warns, and it’s no idle promise.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Japanese Noodle House
(218 Central Ave., Albany) will be offering sushi
classes at the restaurant. The next one takes
place on April 30 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, giving
students the opportunity to make and eat a lunch
that’s as fresh as it gets. Call the restaurant
at 436-7789 for more information. . . . 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..