off the Track
day at the track! The day when Saratoga’s population swells
even as the locals bail. Probably the worst possible day to
form an objective opinion about a new restaurant. Yet it was
the only day I had available, so with a hangdog expression,
my notepad hidden from view, I slunk into Gotchya’s with the
hope of enjoying at least a fair-to-middling meal.
it’s slower tonight than it was last night,” one of the servers
noted. “We’ve been incredibly busy up to now.”
Which is impressive considering that the restaurant only opened
in March. But it’s in the city’s up-and-coming artists’ neighborhood,
surrounded by galleries and adjacent to another fine restaurant,
the Beekman Street Bistro.
I’d given myself half an hour to find parking and walk to
Gotchya’s. We were lucky enough to find parking on the crowded
street within a block of the place, and so presented ourselves
at the door in case our early arrival might facilitate seating.
“It’s no problem if you don’t mind sitting outside,” said
the hostess. “We have a nice patio in back.”
My daughter considers an al fresco table the zenith
of fine dining, so we sat at one of a half-dozen wooden tables
in a nicely landscaped enclosure in back. The sun was setting;
the air was cool. That elusive sense of well-being already
began to settle in. And there was the prospect of fresh pasta
Gotchya’s initially opened as a coffeehouse and bar. Not far
down the street, Dominic Colose was operating the Yawning
Duck, selling fresh pasta and hosting an occasional dinner.
Gotchya’s owners Michelle Corbett and Michael Pape convinced
Colose—who has been chef at such restaurants as Café Capriccio
and Chameleon on the Lake—to join forces.
Even then, the plan was to retail the pasta products by day,
but the workload of running a popular kitchen overwhelmed
that idea. So you’ll have to do as we did, and order the fettuccine
Bolognese (or any of a number of other pasta dishes) to enjoy
that unmistakable texture.
Then imagine yourself back to the golden era of Saratoga’s
history, when Monty Woolley prowled the streets and stopped
here when it was DeRossi’s Italian Restaurant. Although it
probably was barely noticeable over the speakeasy trade, DeRossi’s
got the city’s first post-Prohibition liquor license. It was
the first to offer outdoor dining. And you might have rubbed
shoulders with Rita Hayworth (nice shoulders to rub) or Jimmy
Durante, not to mention any of the gangsters whose portraits
adorn the indoor walls.
After DeRossi’s 72-year run, the building deteriorated. When
Corbett and Pape bought it three years ago, they saw beyond
the nightmare of renovation to a rebirth of fine dining. And
Colose has proven, with the many menus he has presented over
the years, that he doesn’t have to overadorn his food to make
it special. His menu here exemplifies that. Northern Italian
at heart, it starts you with salad or seafood, offers a bounty
of pasta creations and finishes off with a brief list of varied
entrées. You’ve got your steak (a Florentine-style strip,
$24), you’ve got your chicken parm ($16) and there’s a meatless
eggplant with five cheeses served over fettuccine ($15).
We wanted to dive in a little deeper. So we ordered a plate
of antipasto ($8) while we studied the menu for a while longer.
There’s a wine list on the back, so I also asked for a glass
of Orvieto Classico to help stoke the Italian mood.
Which the antipasto helped. Some of the best cappiccola I’ve
tasted—spicy and not too lean—along with spears of grilled
squash, roasted red pepper slices, artichoke hearts, olives,
grape tomatoes and a couple of terrific cheeses, one a soft
gorgonzola, the other a provolone-like sheep’s cheese.
The fettuccine Bolognese was a given. It’s available in a
half or full portion ($10/$15), and we ordered the latter
to ensure leftovers. As a prelude, Susan ordered a house salad
($4), simple and fresh, romaine lettuce garnished with red
onions and grape tomatoes, dressed with sea salt, lemon juice
and excellent olive oil.
My daughter, ever more fond of seafood, dug into a plate of
steamed littlenecks ($10) with gusto, noting that they not
only had a wonderful flavor, enhanced with a buttery white
wine broth, but they also were cleaner than some she’s encountered
Mussels were similarly delicious, a set of the tender Prince
Edward Island variety, but here mixed with lemon zest as a
flavoring for an appetizer portion of risotto.
Calves’ liver ($16) is always an appealing option, but I spotted
porcetta, a Tuscan-style pork roast ($18), and was
more than pleased with the combination of simply prepared
meat—lots of garlic and rosemary accompanies it into the oven—and
a tangy homemade sausage link. Fingerling potatoes and grilled
squash were the appropriate sides.
Keeping on the seafood theme, Lily ordered roasted whole trout
($18), and received it, at her request, sans head, a move
she regretted when actually confronted with the rest of the
carcass. Don’t ask me to explain. Lemon and thyme are the
dominant seasonings, but you don’t need much with a fish like
this, which bursts with its own flavor when carefully cooked.
By the time we’d finished what we could, we hardly wanted
to leave, and thus prolonged our stay with some lovely desserts,
including a blueberry tart with a killer crust and a dish
of peaches in a chilled sabayon sauce. It was a superb meal
with a surprisingly low price, and we look forward to returning—once
the city empties again.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
fight it—Bastille Day approaches, and, per tradition,
Nicole’s Bistro (Quackenbush House, Clinton
& Broadway, Albany) celebrates on July 14
with a four-course meal and entertainment. Start
with an appetizer of vichyssoise, charcuterie
or PEI mussels (among other selections); entrée
choices include roasted leg of lamb, sautéed trout
meuniere and semi-boneless roasted duckling.
Sonny & Perley provide an evening of jazz
and cabaret. The noninclusive per-person fee is
$50 (465-1111). . . . Speaking of things Gallic,
Provence Restaurant (1475 Western Ave.,
Albany) presents its first summer wine dinner
on July 19 at 7 PM. With the theme “Napoleon’s
Favorites,” the dinner will feature vintages around
the world that Napoleon Bonaparte celebrated in
his memoirs. Food, too, will be Napoleonic—meaning
multilayered. Chef Michael Cunningham thus will
be making towers of such dishes as ahi tuna Nicoise
with heirloom tomatoes, torchon of foie gras,
and sliced breast of duck with leg confit. It’s
$75 per person (689-7777). . . . Several weeks
ago, Gotchya’s Trading Co. and The Yawning Duck
Pasta Co. combined to open the restaurant Gotchya’s
Trattoria at 68 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs.
They will host a Sicilian themed Communal Dinner—a
multicourse event at one large table, featuring
roasted lamb and grilled swordfish—on July 19,
and all courses will be paired with appropriate
wines. Dinners ($75 per person) are limited to
16 and reservations are required (584-5772). .
. . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
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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..