got all the trappings of a chain restaurant, being represented
as one of four area restaurants under the same ownership,
and looks as if it were rubber-stamped by the same design
school that gives us the national franchises. But a closer
look reveals that the design has a more upscale feel: The
artwork doesn’t crowd the walls, the lighting is subdued,
the tables and booths are actually comfortable, and the menu
is a rollicking collection of varied items that never breaks
the $20 ceiling and includes plenty of sandwich and lighter
options down at the other end of the price scale.
turns out, the five-year-old Double O changed hands four months
ago, and no longer is under the aegis of its founding family.
It will hold onto its current moniker for a few months more,
but after that it will be the Mazza Grill, according to co-owner
and I bought the place,” he explains. “We’ve been in the restaurant
business for many years in the Saugerties-Rhinebeck area.”
He has no plans to change the current menu anytime soon (“No
sense fixing what isn’t broken”) and has entrusted the kitchen
to chef Anthony VandeKerkhoff.
dining area is segmented by low walls into clusters of tables
and booths, topped by attractive lighting fixtures, and ringed
by vintage posters all urging you to try one exotic beverage
or another. Near the kitchen door (an all-caps neon sign shouts
the identity of that portal) is a display case crammed with
homemade cakes and pies.
accessibly priced menu is the starting point, although, had
I not another two hours of driving ahead of me, a large mojito
would have been my point of entry. And, as you discover while
watching the styrofoam collect at neighboring tables, large
portions are the norm.
three dozen appetizers range from quesadillas ($8) to crab
cakes ($10), with traditional items like Buffalo chicken wings
($8) and spinach and cheese dip ($8) to Thai mussels ($9),
the contradictory-sounding blackened ahi sashimi ($10) and
sweet corn tamale cakes ($8). Want to go more exotic? Try
the Santa Barbara salmon cigars ($8.50), which consist of
salmon and goat cheese in an Asian wrapper, served with cucumber
sauce. Want to stay lean? A bowl of edamame is $7.
that many of these are entrée-sized, thus worth sharing or
comprising the entirety of your meal. Even with three of us
plundering the Asian lettuce wraps ($9), there was some to
take home—although I’d recommend consuming it at one go, as
lettuce doesn’t travel well. You’re folding the leaves around
a stew of well-chopped chicken and vegetables, seasoned very
much on the sweet side, in a sauce thick enough to invite
little mess if you wrap and eat them carefully.
are listed as appetizer or gourmet on different pages, and
any of them seems large enough for a meal. A $6 Greek salad,
listed on the appetizer page, crowded an oversized plate and
boasted locally sourced feta as a component. It shares its
page with such combos as endive, pecan and blue cheese ($7)
and a French country salad that includes asparagus, beets
and Coach Farms goat cheese ($7).
pages of gourmet salads include grilled chicken tostada ($10),
fried calamari tossed with romaine and radicchio ($12), Benny’s
Maui salad (chicken breast and greens with mango, papaya,
pineapple and more, $11) and a relatively calm Caesar salad
($9) that can be dressed with chicken, shrimp or tuna for
a dollar more.
of sandwiches offer plenty of possibilities, all pretty lively
sounding, in the $9 range, although a crab cake hoagie comes
in at $11. The pasta, rice and noodles page lets you order
smaller portions before 4 PM and includes a seafood risotto
for $17 that I found an excellent mix of the traditional paella
components—chicken, sausage, clams, shrimp, scallops—over
dishes dominate the House Favorites page, from $11 chicken
tacos to fried chicken, chicken and biscuits (each $14) and
chicken marsala ($15). The chickenless spicy-vegetable curry
is a bargain at $13, with a hint of heat in its sauce, but
not enough to daunt my nervous wife, who probably is a good
barometer of What America Can Tolerate. Edamame and potatoes
joined an array of asparagus, squash, carrots and more in
time my daughter was served her Chino-Cubano steak ($17),
she had little appetite and thus barely tasted a reasonably
tender skirt steak served with a Thai tamarind sauce, over
rice festooned with onion and tomatoes.
small bit of appetite left was given over to a slice of mudslide-Oreo
cheesecake ($5.50). Not my type of dessert, as I prefer my
cheesecake unsullied by cookies and such, but a fitting close
to a road-food meal that perfectly satisfied our budget and