Home With Pizza
Route 20, New Lebanon, 794-9339.
Serving Sun-Thu 11:30-10, Fri-Sat 11:30-11. AE, D, MC, V.
pizza and pasta
price range: $6 (pasta with marinara)
to $14 (large smoked-seafood pizza)
through our meal, an Applebee’s ad flashed on the widescreen
TV that hangs over the bar. The selling points—happy people,
colorful food—were in evidence around us. But Applebee’s is
a suburban, anti-neighborhood phenomenon, whereas Fresco’s
is very much intended to serve—and bring together—the locals.
And, in my case, a hungry passerby. An errand in Pittsfield,
Mass., on a brutally cold day—when my daughter suggested pizza
for lunch I couldn’t argue against it. On Route 20 in New
Lebanon, we spotted Fresco’s both from its sign and the crowd
of cars, and were lucky enough to be seated right away.
are off from school today,” owner Gary Knight later explained,
“and we’ve been nonstop busy.” Which meant that during most
of the early afternoon, the eight dining room tables, three
hightops and eight bar seats were filled and turning, with
a thicket of people waiting by the door.
Fresco’s opened in 1995, after Knight put in time at such
nearby restaurants as Sassafras and the Shaker Mill Tavern.
He upped the casual-dining ante by installing a wood-fired
oven, and the pizza business is a mainstay of the restaurant.
But it certainly isn’t all.
developed the menu over the years,” he explains, “to feature
items that our customers look for. And we’ve done very well.
I’m always asked why I don’t expand the place, but I think
the size is part of its appeal. I’ve seen too many places
get overambitious and fail.”
Although we visited when the outside was a snow-covered deep
freeze, a gazebo and picnic tables suggest that warm-weather
service gives you Fresco’s al fresco options. But it’s certainly
a comfortable winter venue. Just don’t sit too near the door.
I could spend the rest of this review just describing the
tchotchkes and gewgaws adorning the place. A few examples
should suffice: a chairlift, complete with skier; a zeppelin;
several biplanes; and Santa’s leg; all of these hanging overhead.
Among the wall decorations are a vintage sled, a working traffic
light and a poster of the most protean of the (Three) Stooges,
proclaiming “Legalize Shemp.”
The menu boasts that the dough and sauces are made daily.
Right there you know you’re in for something better than many
a pizza joint. A page of wood-fired pizza choices allows you
to built your own red or white pie ($5.75 for a 10-inch, $8
for 14-inch; add a buck or more for each extra item), with
a cornucopia of toppings to work with. (Smoked mussels! Pineapple!
Nine specialty pizzas allow the unimaginative, like me, to
avoid choice-making. Florentine adds spinach and bacon; Fresco’s
Combo mixes mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni and peppers. My
progeny is a barbecue fan, who counts barbecued-chicken pizza
as her favorite.
Above the big TV a sign reads “When in Doubt, Order Pizza.”
Excellent advice. We have another strategy to attach to that:
order the largest size available and enjoy leftovers later.
The $10 barbecued-chicken pizza sported a white sauce, chicken
chunks and a tangy sauce that didn’t overpower the rest of
it—first time I’ve found this combo so nicely proportioned.
The crust was thin and crunchy, and scented with wood-fire
Want a different arrangement? Calzones and stromboli start
at around six bucks, the price increasing per ingredient.
Subs ($5 for eight-inch, $6 or more for 12-inch) are available
cold or baked depending on your preference.
A cup of hot soup always gives a good start to a winter’s
day meal, and cream of broccoli, the day’s soup when we visited,
would seem an excellent candidate ($2 cup, $4 crock); this
one bore the signs of a congealed thickening agent, which
lumped up its texture.
Other starters include bruschetta ($6), wings ($5.75 for a
dozen, $10 for 25), a $10 smoked-seafood plate and fresh mozzarella
with tomatoes for $7.75.
A typical array of salads is offered; I enjoyed a Greek salad
($6 or $8, the smaller of which will feed two) that was the
usual mound of romaine, feta, kalamata onions, olives and
Here’s a smart move: The page of pasta offerings notes that
most of them are available in a smaller portion for $2 less
than the regular price; were I not a fan of leftovers, I’d
have taken advantage of that. And you get your choice of penne,
angel hair or linguine, dressed with an Alfredo sauce ($8),
broccoli aïoli ($7), pesto ($8), Bolognese ($7) and more,
many of which can be enhanced with chicken or shrimp for an
Baked items include ziti ($8) and the parmesan family (eggplant
$9, chicken $10, veal $11). Among the more exotic sautés are
smoked salmon Alfredo ($11) and what was described as the
most popular pasta dish, chicken Ricardo ($10), which I discovered
to be a heaping bowl of pasta (angel hair for me) tossed with
chicken chunks, julienned ham, mushrooms and broccoli in a
sweet cream sauce, the leftovers of which my wife swiped for
lunch when I wasn’t looking.
The crowd never eased during the hour of our visit; the servers
kept hopping and pizzas flew in and out of the little oven
with surprising efficiency. It was a wonderful, warm sanctuary
we look forward to visiting again.
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..