Pizza Place & Restaurant
Hamburg St., Schenectady, 355-7700. Serving 11-10 Mon, Wed-Thu,
11-11 Fri-Sat, 11-10 Sun. AE, MC, V.
pizza, burgers, Italian fare
price range: $5 (pepper sub) to $15 (veal sorrento)
makes your favorite pizza place so good? How far do you go
(geographically, I mean) for pizza? Locally, I’ve got three
places to choose among, one of which is run by Mike Geloso,
who is a community mainstay. This means I need travel no more
than five minutes to get a pie.
And, really, what’s the difference from pizza to pizza? Actually,
it’s gotten fairly dramatic with the rise of supermarket and
convenience store pizzas, those heat-lamp victims that serve
only to make chain-restaurant pizza seem less unappealing.
I’m not saying that you need to see the dough for your just-ordered
pizza to take a flying-saucer spin in the air. But it doesn’t
hurt. At least you want to know that the dough is fresh and
the toppings aren’t canned or plastic.
The name Geloso pops up again in Schenectady, where you’ll
discover that Joe’s Pizza Place is the epicenter of a food
and realty industry. Not for nothing is Joe Geloso known as
the Mayor of Hamburg Street. Along with the pizza restaurant
that bears his name are many other real estate holdings, as
well as a family that has dispersed throughout many of the
It started here—on Hamburg Street, at least—40 years ago,
as Geloso took the craft he learned from his father-in-law
and spun it into a pizzeria that quickly became a community
mainstay. And thus has accumulated a lot of history. You see
it as soon as you park. It’s an unglamorous building, and
the dining room can’t decide which decade it occupies. Steel
I-beams thrust into the room, contrasting with the diner-like
booths and tables. A banquet area sits beyond a bank of windows.
The kitchen is visible through windows at an adjacent end
of the room.
So I did, in fact, watch my pizza dough fly. When it emerged,
the aroma of garlic preceded it by several feet. With broccoli
florets peeping through melted mozzarella and romano, it was
a more naked example of what the kitchen can do. The crust
really seals the deal with a pie like this, and it was a winner
in all departments. Including price: $12.50 for a six-cut,
$14.50 for eight, on up to $21.50 for a 24-cut monster. Substitute
fresh tomato slices for the broccoli and you have a pizza
a la Stella. Or go for a Buffalo chicken topping for the same
Naturally, there’s a create-your-own schedule. The eight-cut
pricing begins at $10.65 for plain cheese, $11.95 for one
item, $13.25 for two, and then a buck and a half for each
thereafter. And you have a generous array to choose from,
including exotica like eggplant, roasted peppers and pineapple.
With appetizer offerings like homemade garlic bread ($2.50
and $3.50), calamari ($6.25), Buffalo chicken wings (10 for
$7.25), I can overlook silly things like chicken tenders ($7),
mozzarella sticks ($6.25) and boneless Buffalo wings (10 oz.
for $6—it’s cheating). But we paced ourselves, kind of, by
starting with a small antipasto platter ($8.25)
I have no illusions about pizza joint antipasto. I won’t be
getting complicated sausages or aromatic provolone. I’m going
to get a bunch of lettuce topped with chopped deli meat and
cheese and a few olives thrown in. This serving, therefore,
was good of its kind. It did what I needed in the salad department
and snuck in those extras. It went around the table a couple
of times, disappearing just as the main dishes arrived.
Many sandwiches, Italian and otherwise, are featured, including
meatball, sausage and pepper, chicken or eggplant parmigiana,
turkey, ham—you get the picture. They’re priced from $5 to
$8, most coming in at $7.25, all including fries and a pasta
salad or coleslaw. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what
the pasta dishes are, but be assured you can get your ziti,
or cavatelli, or fettuccine, or whatever with meatballs, sausage—you’ll
work it out. A plate of spaghetti and meatballs is $8.45,
rising to $11.45 for cavatelli with broccoli, garlic and olive
But my two confrères must have been swayed by the diner-ish
look of the place. One of them ordered the fish fry. The other
just had to have a burger ($8 each). These were about as straight-ahead
as you’d imagine. The fish fry—a big piece of well-breaded
whitefish—poked out the ends of the obligatory roll. The burger
sported two patties on a Kaiser roll with lettuce and tomato
atop the meat. Both plates also were fries-laden. All of it
was cooked with a competent hand—really, any improvements
probably would frighten the mainstream clientele. But both
friends also regarded my pizza with some envy.
True to form, I didn’t share.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
West African Night at Carmen’s Café (198
1st St., Troy) from 6-10 on Feb. 27 with a gluten-free
buffet of West African-inspired dishes by the
Natural Kitchen’s Susan Garth. Selections include
sweet potato and roasted cashew soup, West African
beef stew, vegetable groundnut stew, spicy braised
greens, toasted millet pilaf, spiced plantains—and
Carmen’s famous rice pudding. And you’ll be dining
to New World Jazz by Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius
and Heard. Sassy live music and spicy delights,
just right for these winter nights. It’s $30 per
guest, and you should reserve a seat by calling
Carmen at 516-857-0474. . . . Remember to pass
your scraps to Metroland.