Way Café sits unobtrusively at the corner of Routes 9 and
67 in Malta, just south of Northway exit 12, its approachability
hobbled in places by ongoing construction. Seek it out. Chef-owner
John Bove describes it as having a “1940s roadhouse atmosphere,”
and it certainly looks like the kind of place in which Ann
Dvorak might show up next to you on a barstool, with jealous
Jack Carson trying to distract her.
restaurant’s name suggests—insists is more like it—there’s
a Sinatra theme at work. Paintings, posters, albums and other
memorabilia decorate the walls; the Chairman’s songs underscore
the dining room’s soundtrack. Sinatra on Bluebird, on Columbia,
on Capitol, Reprise—each phase of his singing career is celebrated.
and his wife, Susan, have been running the place for nearly
a quarter-century, and his time in the restaurant business
approaches twice that amount. He shows no sign of slowing.
He’s baking bread and fashioning deserts in the morning, doing
the other dinner prep in the afternoon.
greeted with a dish of tangy pasta salad and a hot serving
of “flowerpot bread,” a loaf prepared and served in a small
clay pot, bread that is yeasty and yielding.
is Italian at heart, but enhanced and rearranged in signature
style. Appetizer pricing is simple: Each dish is a reasonable
$8, an increase of a dollar since I last wrote about the place
five years ago. From prosciutto-wrapped scallops to shrimp
cocktail, antipasto to fried provolone, you get a good-sized
serving of the starter.
mussels arrived in a white-wine broth with added fresh tomatoes,
a traditional, satisfying approach. Fried calamari are so
tender that I initially thought that they’d been left out
of the dish, leaving behind calamari flavored breading—but
closer examination revealed the most yielding rings I’ve ever
tasted, served with a good marinara.
minestrone and always different” is the menu description of
a daily soup ($3 and $4), and we were fortunate enough to
visit when the restaurant’s garden was providing components—and
the brew itself is tailored to the season, with a lighter
consistency for the warm months.
a cup of minestrone or a house salad with most of the entrées,
and the house salad also reflects the freshness of ingredients,
with a very crisp lettuce mix and vegetables from the garden.
pastas are a Bove innovation that he’s been featuring for
many years, an all-in-one creation that assures you of a thorough
mating of pasta and sauce. We tested his skillet-pasta skill
by ordering the carbonara ($17), a simple, traditional meal
that more often than not emerges colorlessly.
carbonara has a profound prosciutto presence. The fettuccine
is firm, the sauce—a mix of cream and eggs and grated cheeses—rich
and touched with an added surprise: spinach. Good luck finishing
a helping of this.
skillet pastas are puttanesca ($18) and mussels fettuccine
($18). Other pasta creations include lasagna rolled and stuffed
with spinach and a cheese mixture ($17), chicken or shrimp
Alfredo ($18 and $20) and ravioli stuffed with portobello
mushrooms in a tomato-vodka cream sauce ($18).
also figures in the Napoleon, another original. Thin layers
of chicken ($19) or veal ($20) alternate with the cooked greens,
as well as eggplant, ricotta and provolone. Topped with a
pomodoro, garnished with parsley and cheese, it’s another
massive portion. Our sampling of the chicken Napoleon began
at the restaurant table and carried on at home the following
day. With some still left over for the next.
pork sausage can also be turned into a Napoleon ($19). Other
sausage dishes include linguine Bolognese ($18), served with
a sausage meat-sauce, and Tuscan style ($19), with peppers
and spinach and gorgonzola cheese.
there are the parmigianas, made with eggplant ($18), chicken
($17), veal ($18) or sausage ($18). Veal saltimbocca ($19)
is the classic breaded cutlet topped with prosciutto and provolone,
with an added sage-leaf flavor.
and seafood lists feature unadorned sirloin ($23) and the
hot-peppers-enhanced pizzaiola ($27), as well as shrimp scampi
($18), broiled scallops ($19) and blackened tilapia ($18).
the sausage Tuscan was tempting, I ordered a variation that
places grilled sirloin at the center. The $25 dish was started
with a tremendously delicious cut of meat, grilled to my specification
(rare) and served over wilted spinach, topped with roasted
red pepper and gorgonzola and served alongside a handsome
array of steak fries. I can’t praise this dish too highly,
and advise you only to refrain from finishing it.
you’ll want a tiramisu to send you out the door, created from
a recipe handed down in Bove’s family, as good a version of
this as you could wish.
are comparatively economical, especially if you’re fleeing
downtown Saratoga, but Bove offers a Trilogy for Two: A $66
meal that lets you share an appetizer, order an entrée apiece,
enjoy a glass of house wine or draft beer with each of those
plates, and finish with a shared dessert and two coffees.
Bove oversees the floor, and was funny and friendly and informative,
guiding us through the menu, getting out our meals and making
sure we were satisfied all along the way. Her husband emerged
at the end of our meal, and proved as good a raconteur as
he is a chef. But that’s not surprising: The brand of conviviality
he encourages extends well beyond the mere mechanics of a