the Suburban Sun
Plaza, 1760 Route 9, Clifton Park, 371-5672. Serving lunch
Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, dinner Mon-Thu 4-10, Fri 4-11, Sat 2-11,
Sun 1-9. AE, MC, V.
price range: $11 (spaghetti with sausage) to $25 (linguine
such a culinary buzzword these days that “Tuscan” is applied
to nearly anything that comes within a few miles of Italy.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on things Tuscan—well, actually,
I do pretend to be so, which gets me in trouble—but
I had a feeling I wouldn’t be seeing roasts of wild boar (cinghiale)
on the menu here at Tuscan’s Grill. And I was right.
What I did find was a scratch menu of solid Italian fare,
overseen by chef Ray Crodelle (formerly of D’Raymond’s). He
and owner Mike Powers have transformed what once was the Parkwood
Restaurant into an accommodating eatery that knows its clientele.
And it has to, tucked as it is into an edge of Clifton Park’s
sprawling array of chain restaurants. A few mavericks are
successfully challenging this hegemony, and I’m betting Tuscan’s
Grill will be one of them.
It’s not pretending to anything fussy or gourmet-driven, but
I had an entrée of veal Tuscan’s style ($17, also available
with chicken, $15) that turned out to be a variant of veal
piccata. It featured larger slices of the meat, slices that
still were very tender. After a light sauté, they’re finished
in a lemony wine sauce, a perfect accompaniment to a Chardonnay
(or is it the other way around?).
I hadn’t been in the Parkwood for well over 20 years, so I
have no idea how it looked by the end. I do know that it’s
been cleaned and refurbished, with a few changes in floor
plan, and it has a bright, cheerful look from room to room.
There are several, for general dining and for private parties.
We were seated in a room a few steps down from bar level (the
bar dominates the center of the restaurant); through the translucent
window curtains we could see the Vegas-like lights of the
adjoining gift shop.
Rick, our server, was clearly on a mission to see that our
dinner went well, an effort you can’t help but appreciate.
It was he who steered me toward the veal, once I made it clear
by my indifference to his initial recommendations that I wouldn’t
be ordering the most- (or second-most-) expensive item.
I do regret not exploring the entrées in the grill category.
That’s where the sirloin is listed, the filet mignon, the
beef combos, the salmon. Other fish dishes, like cioppino
($22) merit listing in the pesce section, but you’ll
find fish throughout the pasta section as well. This was where
my daughter spotted linguine in white clam sauce ($14), something
she’s grown to like over the summer.
The antipasti list is unsurprising, but the results
are a treat. Bruschetta, of course, and calamari ($7) and
mussels ($7) and the usual shrimp items ($8), but there also
are stuffed roasted peppers ($7.50) and an appetizer I particularly
enjoyed, the Tuscan greens ($7), which is jazzed-up greens
and beans, the jazz being a substitution of hot peppers and
prosciutto for the beans, with a finish of bread crumbs.
My daughter’s ravioli starter featured pasta rounds with fresh
lobster and crab ($9), and we knew it was fresh. She found
some crab shell, which the otherwise eager-to-please Rick
seemed to think was unremarkable and thus not remediable.
An outstanding feature, however, was the marinara, which sported
juicy sun-dried tomatoes and an appropriately strong flavor.
The risotto of the day was built around a medley of fresh
vegetables, set off by the orange of the carrots. Susan had
an appetizer portion ($6), which was delicious but promised
to be too much after the warm bread and a plate of salad.
So she take-home-containered it and concentrated on her entrée,
Chicken Sorrento ($15, $17 with veal).
This is a jazzed-up parmigiana, adding eggplant to the meat
and finishing it with marinara and mozzarella. But the meat
and vegetable are breaded and fried before getting sauced,
and took on some extra oil in the process, as if it were sautéed
at too low a temperature or simply took a trip through the
fryolater. Otherwise, the flavors were just as you’d hope
them to be. (I had a lot less trouble with this dish than
my oil-wary wife.)
A side dish of sausage ($3.50) showed me what the kitchen
really is doing. It’s the real thing, that sausage, a little
spicy, the meat rough-cut and wonderfully textured. So it
was no surprise that the linguine with white clam sauce proved
to be a straight-ahead take on this classic dish. The pasta
was al dente, the clams were fresh, and we might as
well have been by the ocean.
If the success of a meal can be measured by your post-prandial
sense of well-being, then this was a great success. Dinner
had been filling (the mountain of take-home containers attested
to that) and the table was comfortable, so I tormented my
somnolent family by lingering over an espresso as they stared
in the direction of the door.
Clifton Park sings a siren’s song to passing shoppers; once
again, it’s good to have a good, locally owned restaurant
to patronize when that’s where you happen to be.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
André Begnaud, who served as executive sous chef
at two of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, will cater
the Ninth Annual Music Haven Community Gala
celebration in Schenectady’s Central Park
from 5:30 to 7:15 PM on Monday (Aug. 28). The
menu includes smoked brisket, barbecued chicken,
green beans with pecans, corn maque choux, Cajun/Creole
potato salad, Louisiana slaw, and dessert beignets.
The Gala marks the last concert of the summer
series, which features zydeco master Geno Delafose
and French Rockin’ Boogie on the Music Haven stage
at 7:30 PM. The Gala’s $55 ticket includes VIP
seating for the concert, the pre-show Louisiana
bayou-style barbecue with dinner entertainment
by the Ramblin’ Jug Stompers (Michael Eck &
Greg Haymes), and post-concert café du monde dessert.
The concert itself is free to the public as usual.
For more information, visit www.music havenstage.org
or call the Central Park office at 382-5152 or
the Chamber of Schenectady County at 372-5656.
. . . Chameleon on the Lake (251 Stafford
Bridge Rd., Saratoga) is hosting a SPAC Food and
Wine Fundraiser at 6:30 PM on Sept. 7 at the restaurant,
which perches picturesquely on the northern inlet
of Saratoga Lake. The event includes not only
creative food and wine pairings but also Latin
music and a complimentary dance lesson. The menu
includes mushrooms stuffed with gorgonzola and
sausage, paired with Sheldrake Chardonnay from
Australia; coconut-crusted halibut with a Thai
curry sauce, together with a Joseph Carr Sauvignon
Blanc from the Napa Valley; and coulat steak with
a morel cherry sauce paired with Joseph Carr 2002
Cabernet Sauvignon. The price is $110 per person,
inclusive, and you can reserve a seat by phoning
the restaurant at 581-3928. . . . Remember to
pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail:
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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..