Western Ave., Albany, 935-2661. Serving daily 11-10:30 (dinner
entrées from 4:30). AE, D, MC, V..
price range: $11 (baked rigatoni) to $18 (New York
big-screen TVs and burgers
the Cowboys and the Packers took to the field, a roar went
up from the throng. “I can’t believe how many people are here
tonight,” said Maggie Smith, whose eponymous café recently
reopened, after a 10-month hiatus, as a sports pub. “This
is my busiest night in a long time!”
Formerly an Italian restaurant, Maggie’s suffered a fire last
November—“Just as I was about to do all my Christmas parties,”
she laments—and had to undergo extensive renovations. During
this period, she decided to change the style of the place.
don’t want to pay too much for food,” she explains. “Not with
gas prices and other expenses being what they are.” And so
she changed the layout, the look, the menu. All pretense of
fanciness was dropped, pub fare moved to the fore, and TVs
went in. Lots of them. Eighteen jumbo-sized high-definition
screens, surrounding you with a numbing array of visuals and
sound, typically tuned to any number of simultaneous sporting
Unless it’s a Big Event, such as a showdown between Dallas
and Green Bay. We dined early enough to get our meal in before
the start of the game, but this also meant my threesome was
more and more crammed in place as the surrounding tables swelled
with patrons—swelled into the already narrow aisles.
Yet it didn’t feel uncomfortable, and that’s the beauty of
the place. Smith herself is so outgoing, so eager to please,
that it sets an infectious spirit. Her servers are busy but
attentive, the feeling so joyful that you ultimately don’t
mine the mêlée.
The menu will have changed fairly substantially by the time
you read this. Some of the more inventive items are being
dropped—“People in this area aren’t always enthusiastic about
food that’s different,” says Smith—and more entrées are being
added, so that there will be more than a dozen of them available
for dinner. “We’re adding chicken parm, eggplant parm, sandwiches
like hot roast beef, hot turkey and Reubens. We’re going to
drop the crabmeat quesadilla in favor of one made with chicken.”
We sampled blackened fish tacos ($9), served with lime cabbage
and guacamole, a hearty forum for a hearty-tasting fish, but
that’s one of the items getting bumped. “I’ll put it on as
a special, though,” Smith says. “It’s been slowly getting
popular, but I want to make sure I serve it only when I have
There are chicken wings, of course ($8), with a variety of
sauces; chicken tenders for a dollar less, onion rings ($6),
waffle fries ($8 due to the many unlisted extras) and fried
mozzarella ($7). Want a seafood snack? Clams with garlic and
beer ($10), clams casino ($8), and the novel shrimp with
a cocktail (you get a martini with the critters for $10).
Fried calamari is accompanied by a compote of spicy pepperoncini
and sweet cherry peppers mixed with lemon butter ($7), and
a marinara option is part of the new menu. Spinach and artichoke
dip ($7) is the traditional dip, with lots of asiago cheese,
served in a gratinée dish with piles of multicolored tortilla
The Texas sirloin chili ($7) makes at least a nod toward Texas
by boasting good beef and a well-rounded array of seasoning,
but then it goes all Northeast by including beans and cheese—but
that’s what locals like, and I’m sure it’ll past muster with
A bowl of homemade New England clam chowder is $5 and worth
it, with plenty of fish in a thick, rich base. Again, nothing
exceptional, but pub food is all about satisfying expectations.
As is the case with the burgers. They’re in the $7 to $9 range,
depending on topping; mine was at the high end because I ordered
the Joe DiMaggio, replete with bacon, mushrooms and cheese.
Several other types of sandwich are available, along with
a build-it-yourself personal pizza ($5 for cheese, a buck
for each extra topping).
The restaurant’s Italian roots show in the entrée selection,
which (on the old menu, at least) includes rigatoni Neapolitan
($11), spaghetti with sausage and broccoli rabe ($12), cioppino
($16), pasta carbonara ($12) and angel hair with tomatoes,
garlic and basil ($12).
Maggie’s chef, Carlos Perez, has a background in hotel banquet
food, and thus is adept at turning out the desired style and
With a couple of beers apiece to mellow the evening and give
the repast an even more cheerful cast, we marveled at the
swell of excitement as the crowd around us warmed to the prospect
of the game. It was an infectious energy, almost a threatening
one, especially as my friends and I were discussing Broadway
shows. But Maggie makes everyone feel welcome, and that’s
the beauty of this place.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
pretty much Christmas from now till the end of
the year, a good time to enjoy a holiday wine
dinner at Parisi’s Steakhouse (11 N. Broadway,
Schenectady). It’s a five-course dinner that takes
place at 7 PM on Monday (Dec. 3), and features
a collaboration with Cornell’s Restaurant, which
is sending chef Armondo Cioccke to join Parisi’s
chef Steve Morgan to craft a meal paired with
an appropriate selection of wines. Courses include
sliced tenderloin crostini with roasted-tomato
vinaigrette, sesame-encrusted salmon served over
a bed of spring mix, a surf-and-turf risotto and
more. And save room for tiramisu. Dinner is $60
plus tax and tip, and reservations are required—
call 374-0100. . . . Champagne will be on tap
(so to speak) at a special dinner on Dec. 7, 7
PM, at New World Home Cooking Co. (Route
212, Saugerties), where chef Ric Orlando has created
a menu that includes duck broth with Asian greens
and scrambled duck egg (paired with Langlois Estate
Cremant de Loire), lobster tamale with corn smut
crema (Iron Horse Vintage Brut 2002), hot smoked
salmon (Taittinger Brut La Francaise), pheasant
Kiev (Charles Heidsick Brut Reserve) and more.
It’s $85 per person, by reservation only, so call
845-246-0900. . . . Remember to pass your scraps
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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..