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Photo: B.A. Nilsson

Warm It Up

By B.A. Nilsson

Anthony’s Canalside Restaurant

1 Riverside Road, Rotterdam, 887-3100.
Serving Mon-Thu 11-9, Fri-Sat 11-10,
Sun noon-9. AE, D, MC, V.

Cuisine: Traditional Italian

Entrée price range: $6 (burger) to $16
(steak pizzaiola)

Ambiance: cozy and cheerful

A late winter evening, blustery and cold. A long, lonely drive home to an empty house. A sense that all those career irons, long toasting in their various fires, were puddling into scrap. My standard remedy, pursued to excess, is a meal, but I would be dining alone. Which amounts to a public admission of social failure: Who’s the pariah on table three?

I recalled word of a place in Rotterdam, on Route 103, which bridges Routes 5 and 5S at Lock 9 of the canal system. Anthony’s Canalside looked very inviting at that moment, and as soon as I stepped inside I was wrapped in woodstove warmth and family friendliness. And I was further cheered to discover that I could order a chicken-and-eggplant parmigiana dinner for $7 that included a salad (or soup) and a side of pasta.

This is when food is at is most salubrious. My distress crumbled away; the sun broke through. Nothing like a juicy piece of chicken, especially with tomato sauce and cheese, to restore one’s equilibrium.

That’s one of five seven-dollar specials offered Mondays through Wednesdays; the Thursday-through-Sunday specials are more extensive (including prime rib) and expensive. But how can the place afford to offer a complete dinner for seven bucks, even if only early in the week?

“Volume, I hope,” says owner Anthony Civitello, Sr. He and his son, Anthony Jr., give the place its sense of home, as if you’re being welcomed to a family event. The dining room is unpretentious: wood-paneled, hung with little lights and large, green plants. Beyond the dining room is a cheerful bar that also holds a few tables. A separate entrance puts you in the take-out area.

Lunch and dinner items combine on one menu. Look for hot heroes and cold subs if you’re in a sandwich mood ($7 to $9, including fries). The pizza selection offers four- to 12-cut pies in the dining room (24-cut is to-go only) and the usual array of toppings; an eight-cut with pepperoni and onions would cost you $13. Calzones are $7 with a dollar-per-topping charge.

I returned a couple of weeks later, this time with my family, and my wife was delighted to find two of her food fetishes indulged: chicken and cheap. The $7
chicken-parm special was just what she sought that evening.

Although dinners are served with soup or salad, we also passed around a plate of fried calamari ($7), chosen from the appetizer list. Although the ringlets were fresh and tasty, they were oilier than necessary, usually the result of a not-hot-enough frying temperature.

Looking for macaroni? Choose from pastas—a variety of shapes, including rigatoni and angel hair—served with anything from marinara ($9) to red or white clam sauce ($12). Fancy pastas, as the menu styles it, are the baked variety: ravioli, ziti, lasagna and more, with enhancements like mushrooms or Alfredo sauce ($10-$12).

Among the Canalside specialties are those parmigiana dishes, with eggplant, chicken or veal ($11 to $14), giving you more robust portions than the discounted specials. There’s also a selection of burgers priced from $6.50 to $8, the highest price putting fried peppers and onions and mozzarella cheese on the sandwich.

Seafood entrées include a primavera with mussels, shrimp and clams ($15), broiled scrod ($12), shrimp or mixed seafood fra diavolo ($15) and more. Mussels fra diavolo ($13) surround a heap of pasta (choose your noodles) with plump, pinkish bivalves that spread their liquid throughout the dish.

Looking for beef? A one-pound char-broiled New York strip or Delmonico steak is $15, but there’s a $16 steak pizzaiola that tops a strip with peppers, onions, mushrooms and marinara.

I ordered one of those. Ordered it rare, in fact, because that’s my only guarantee these days of getting it medium-rare. It arrived rare. Which is also a good thing, because when you reheat it (and there was plenty to reheat for the next day’s breakfast) you can still have it medium-rare.

It’s a decidedly family-friendly place, with a couple of toddlers and a stroller in evidence, yet no sense of being besieged by unhappy children. The $6 items on the kids-only (12 and under) menu pander to pop tastes with chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks, but spaghetti, ziti and ravioli are available.

When I think of old-style Italian restaurants, I picture the kind of place that has thrived in the downtowns of Albany and Schenectady. Anthony’s captures that spirit, but in a bright new building in an out-of-the-way place. A new neighborhood is springing up around it as Rotterdam swells to accommodate the urban exodus, but for destination-hunters the locale is worth a visit—not only for the nearby river lock and canal history but also for the food and hospitality—especially early in the week.

 

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS

Signs of spring include the opening of the Saratoga Farmers’ Market (High Rock Avenue, Wed 3-6, Sat 9-1) and P.J.’s Bar-B-Q (Route 9) in Saratoga. . . . Two Schenectady stalwarts—the Van Dyck and Bambino’s—have recently closed; Aashiana, an Indian restaurant on Jay Street, has moved to Albany and is operating at 31 Central Ave., with additional Middle Eastern items now on the menu. Info: 463-4161. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food at banils son.com).


We want your feedback

Have you eaten at any recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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* E-mail address not required to submit your feedback, but required to be placed in running for a Van Dyck Gift Certificate.

What you're saying...

I 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.

Mary Kurtz
Castleton

First, 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 the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I 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!

Peggy Van Deloo
Schenectady

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore
Albany

Wonderful!

Elaine Snowdon
Albany

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale
Albany

Your 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..

Barry Uznitsky
Guilderland



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