Not Far Away
Broadway, Tivoli, (845) 757-2100. Serving dinner Wed-Sun from
5 until closing. AE, MC, V.
price range: $$9 (vegetarian burger) to $26 (grilled
a sleepy hollow of Dutchess County, sloping up from the Hudson
River’s bank, the little village of Tivoli yawned and allowed
itself to become a ferry site. Soon, or as soon as things
happened in the 18th century, it became home to Hudson fishermen.
Times passed. Brickmaking ensued. Then the village began attracting
Utopian sects, most notably the Dorothy Day-inspired Catholic
Worker Farm, although none of them got closer to the village
than its outskirts.
Easing to the end of the 20th century, the pace quickened.
Real estate was sold. Somebody tried to buy up the downtown.
The slow northward surge of Manhattanites drew near, and nearby
Bard College grew from a haven for brainy postwar refugees
to its present reputation as red-diaper heaven. Well-heeled
Bard kids looked for fun. They found downtown Tivoli.
It seems to offer more restaurants per square inch than many
a city, and those eateries tend to be simultaneously trendy
and wise, finding and following new cuisine tributaries well
before they get anywhere near the Albany area.
Helped, of course, by the nearby Culinary Institute of America,
which churns out impressive numbers of ambitious chefs each
year. Brian Kaywork is a 2002 CIA grad, and was tapped to
head the kitchen of Madalin’s Table as Joseph Cicileo, Anthony
Cicileo and Domenic Scarpulla launched into buying and refurbishing
Built in 1909, it was the Hotel Morey for a good long time,
but it changed hands, the hotel business fell off, and it
declined into a past-its-prime bar. When the Cicileos and
Scarpulla got hold of it, they spent two years refurbishing
its 11 rooms, bar and restaurant, which reopened in 2006.
Kaywork already was known for his work at the now-shuttered
Mina in Red Hook, and thus was familiar with nearby sources
for meats and vegetables, which is as local as it possibly
And he achieves his acclaimed cuisine through simplicity and
detail. Sweetbreads, for example, served as a $14 appetizer
during our visit, were presented with fresh string beans and
a sauce of butter and vermouth. The sweetbread itself, sautéed
to an elegant crispness, perched atop, halved, otherwise unadorned.
Flavors spoke for themselves.
A broad, covered porch wraps around two sides of the hotel.
Not surprisingly, it’s crowded with tables and makes a very
comfortable dining spot because the village itself is so picturesque
and the Bard-ites trooping through with family and friends
are no less colorful.
Inside is a glorious old bar, nearly 20 feet long, with a
few casual tables nearby; across the hall is a more formal
dining room that was completely empty the afternoon of our
visit. “Nobody wants to sit inside on a day like this,” said
Dolores Cicileo, mother of Anthony and Joseph and usually
to be found at the front desk.
We settled on the porch, sipped drinks, relaxed. Thought briefly
about seeking out some Utopians to show us the way, then decided
that menu was as good a road map for life as anything.
Finger food can be exotic, as in the roasted quail appetizer
($14) that was one of the daily specials. You do have to work
at the bird, but the meat is rich and thus rewarding and it
was served with seasoned farro, a spelt-like grain, cooked
with the giblets in a dirty-rice-like manner.
Soft-shelled crabs were another appetizer special ($14), and
these were plates you could treat like tapas if you’re there
for a cocktail (peach bellini for me, thanks). Among the regular-menu
appetizers are Moroccan fried chickpeas ($9), a Niçoise salad
(available in two sizes, $11 and $18), seared scallops in
pesto and truffle oil ($14) and a not-so-simple mesclun salad
($9) that proved to have pickled beets and spicy pumpkin seeds
among its tasty components.
Entrées range from a vegetarian mushroom lasagna ($18) to
grilled lamb chops with tomato-kalamata olive chutney ($26);
we sampled the shrimp risotto ($14 and $21, with the smaller
one quite sufficient), prepared gumbo style with smoked chicken,
a good amount of garlic, and onions, tomatoes, and red bell
peppers giving it color and spreading the flavors.
Want a good chicken dish? It’s the invariable choice of my
“I’ll-be-safe-with-that” spouse, who enjoyed the roasted bird
($22) on its bed of broccoli rabe. The chef works a prosciutto
stuffing into the critter, and livens it with poultry’s natural
herb accompaniment, thyme.
With the river so close and the hotel atmosphere so much of
the past, I got to thinking about when seafood was uncontaminated
and plentiful, and ordered the (not from the Hudson) rainbow
trout ($22). Leave the tail and head in place: I’m not squeamish.
Besides, the skin was given a brittle, crisp finish, so I
gave myself the option of sneaking a taste or two from the
Served with a bacon-shallot vinaigrette, the fish yielded
cutlets of sweet, punchy flavor with the expected tenderness,
enhanced by an accompaniment of cooked-just-right veggies.
We were there on the early side for dinner, and the place
filled quickly as we eased towards the end of our meal. It
was after the entrée service that things fell apart, which
is the fate of having a single server exclusive to your table.
Dessert took so long to arrive that I sent mine back. (Good
business sense would suggest that the other dessert that was
served would have been comped, but I fear they were too harried
to be so hip.)
Other than that, Madalin’s Table offered what you hope for
in a vacation dinner out, even if you’re taking that vacation
not very far from home.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
lunch and dinner menus, a Friday happy hour (or
three hours, from 5-8) with complimentary buffet,
Tue-Thu $20 dinner specials and a martini menu
are some of the new features at Parisi’s Steakhouse
(11 N. Broadway, Schenectady). Among the dinner
offerings are veal saltimbocca ($20), chicken
piccatta ($18), pork osso bucco ($26) and, in
an intriguing concept, ravioli au poivre
($20). And, of course, Parisi’s signature steaks,
including an 8-oz. filet mignon ($29), a 16-oz.
Delmonico ($32), a 16-oz. New York strip ($30),
and the mighty chateaubriand for two ($70), all
served with your choice of the restaurant’s eight
signature sauces, including a caramelized onion
demi-glace, a Béarnaise, and one that’s built
on a shot of Jack Daniels. Call 374-0100 for more
info. . . . Honest Weight Food Co-op has
launched a new website designed to make your shopping
easier. The site (honestweight.coop) now sports
tabbed navigation so you can quickly find the
current sale info, calendar of education events,
features on local producers and information about
healthy food and sustainable agriculture, among
many other topics. The site was designed by HWFC
member Karen Schlesinger, of Digital Artist’s
Space. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland