Broadway, Troy, 272-3013. Serving dinner Mon-Sat 5-10, brunch
Sunday 10-3. AE, D, MC, V.
top-flight creative continental
price range: $19 (gnocchi Bolognese) to $46 (beef tournedos
and seafood Neapolitan)
upon a time it was a men’s club, one of those fusty assemblies
of waning testosterone that flourished in every city during
an earlier era. Most of them have evanesced: Schenectady’s
Mohawk Club is now the Stockade Inn, and it’s a pleasure to
report that the former Troy Club, occupying a handsome corner
of the Hendrick Hudson building at Monument Square, has become
the Tosca Grille, the fine-dining brainchild of chef Larry
Schepici made his culinary mark locally at such white-linen
establishments as the Tavern at Sterup Square and Sargo’s;
with the Tosca Grille, he was able to design the entire mise
en scene, building around the theme of the eponymous heroine
best known from Puccini’s opera—and the composer himself peers
from one of the murals.
Music plays a key part here, from the instruments that decorate
the pillars and walls to the tasteful selections—instrumental
works by the likes of Mozart and Beethoven—that play throughout
dinner. And it’s fitting to apply musical comparisons to the
meal itself. Fine dining is a theatrical experience, and the
opera stage is the theatrical pinnacle, so it’s a worthy metaphor
for a superior restaurant meal.
Before we get to the overture, then, consider the hall itself.
You enter into a space that welcomes you with its soft lights
and a gentle susurrus of sound. A mix of dark paneling and
pale walls keeps the appearance subdued and attractive. And
the tables are large and comfortable.
On to the overture. A well-chosen wine list, many of its selections
from Schepici’s personal collection, brings you in at about
the $25 mark. Although I was dining with a vegetarian, and
thus the red-meat selection would be limited, we agreed on
a red—an Australian shiraz—to carry us through the meal.
The menu sits in a price range generous enough to allow the
pursuit of the best ingredients and the most appropriate preparations—but,
in civilian life, it’s a bit rich for the proletarian likes
Although the offerings are fancy, the foundations are familiar.
There’s beef, of course, which appears in three guises (pan-roasted
sirloin, $34; roquefort encrusted filet mignon, $42; and a
tournedos-and-seafood combo for $46). Veal, pork and lamb
dishes also get inventive treatments, and there’s a full complement
of fish, such as seafood bianco ($34, a stew of lobster,
shrimp, mussels, scallops and more served over pasta), caramelized
sea scallops ($26), salmon in a Tahitian Champagne sauce ($24)
and the rarely seen Dover sole ($36), a superb fish the allure
of which proved too compelling for my dining companion to
see if it arrives on the bone,” she said. “That’s the test.”
In fact, it didn’t, but that’s because the presentation far
exceeded what we expected. Dover sole is a flat, ugly brute
that needs minimal preparation: Rip the skin off its bottom,
dredge it in flour, sauté. Decide if the customer should deal
with the head and tail. At least, that’s how it was done when
I was in the kitchen. Schepici not only eliminates the offal
but also decoratively arranges the nacreous flesh that’s left
around the garnishes, flowing over the colorfully striated
vegetable pavé, a sort of Napoleon of turnips and carrots
and such, and pointing to the glistening stack of bright green
haricot verts. A subtle finish comes from a grapefruit
sauce that carefully tops the dish.
Even a simple dish like crab cakes ($13) gets its own reimagining.
As you’d expect, the crabmeat-to-breading ratio tilts generously
toward the seafood—in this case, Jonah crab—but the attention
grabber here really is the sauce, decorative swirls of an
aïoli heated with chipotle, cooled with mango.
You won’t mistake the ingredients in the artichoke and pecorino
tart ($9), a starter that serves the purpose of this course
by livening the palate with a quick hit of flavor. Artichoke
isn’t one of those big-flavored ingredients; vinegar is the
usual complement, but Schepici opts instead to enhance the
natural flavor with the similarly earthy flavor of pecorino,
a sheep’s-milk cheese, nicely rounded with an olive sauce
and tomato gremolata.
Although New Zealand seems to have a lock on lamb, the domestic
product is typically tastier, borne out in Tosca’s American
rack of lamb ($38), a full complement of chops rubbed with
honey, then crusted with pistachio, porcini and herbs. Degree
of doneness? Let the chef decide, I said, noting my preference
for rareness—and rare it came, deliciously so.
A native of Boston, Schepici made his name at fine-dining
restaurants in Massachusetts and Vermont, and, among many
other awards, won a bronze medal at the international Hotelympia
2000 Salon Culinaire Master Chefs Grand Prix. Accessible
and very affable, he seems almost surprised by his own success.
is where I want to be, and what I want to do,” he says, proudly
surveying the dining room, and there’s no doubt that he’s
found a superb place for his top-flight talents.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
on the Lake (251 Stafford Bridge Road, Saratoga
Springs) is hosting its third annual “Married
with Singles” pre-Valentine’s Day party at 8 PM
on Feb. 9. Married couples are invited to bring
their single friends, and new friendships are,
of course, encouraged. With belly dancers and
a tarot card reader on hand, how can you miss?
Stations of the restaurant’s signature food will
be provided, along with entertainment by the band
Groove Syndicate—all for $30 per person. Reservations
are required, so call 581-3928 or visit www.cha
meleononthelake.com. . . . What better way to
celebrate your special someone than with a wine-tasting
event paired with aphrodisiac foods? That’s the
theme of the Feb. 5 dinner at Parisi’s Steakhouse
(11 N. Broadway, Schenectady), with a five-course
meal and an international selection of wines.
Oysters, of course, with a sparkler, as well as
braised lobster, espresso-cured beef tenderloin
and a finale of a chocolate ménage a trois.
Reservations are required. The dinner starts at
7 PM and costs $55 plus tax and tip; for more
info, call 374-0100. . . . Ready for a trip into
hell? Ric Orlando, chef-owner of the New World
Home Cooking Co. in Saugerties, announces
the first-ever Hell Night at 6:30 PM on Feb. 2.
It’s a hot-luck wine dinner in which each course
is hotter than the last, with added hot sauce
available if your eyeballs aren’t perspiring yet.
And the wines are presented in reverse order,
with the biggest reds to start and sweet whites
to ease the pain at the end of it all. Courses
include smoked duck and sausage gumbo, lamb vindaloo
and Trinidad oxtails from hell with a red hot
habanero mash; to finish, hottest of all, a dessert
of passion fruit-habanero jiggle. Dinner is $49
per person plus tax and tip; reserve seats by
calling (845) 246-0900. . . . Remember to pass
your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food at
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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..