of Both Worlds
Paolo Lombardi’s Ristorante
West Sand Lake Road (Route 150), Wynantskill, 283-0202. Serving
dinner Mon-Thu 4-10, Fri-Sat 4-11, Sun 1-9. AE, D, MC, V
Food: * * * *
Italian usually means higher prices and smaller portions of
more rarefied recipes. Paolo Lombardi’s strikes gold in providing
the fancy dining experience as well as a plenitude of food
that runs a gamut of recipes. You can get a plate of spaghetti
(the garlic, olive oil and anchovy accompaniment has just
the right mix of flavors and oil). You can get veal rolled
with crabmeat in a creamy asparagus sauce (a Lombardi’s creation).
For 16 years (the anniversary was last week), Paolo Lombardi’s
has enjoyed a profitable place on the eastern side of Troy—in
Wynantskill, actually, on a residential stretch of Route 150.
The chef-owner who gives the place its name comes from a family
that’s been in the restaurant business, and he started out
as a pizza maker while in his teens.
was always my dream to have my own place,” Lombardi explains.
“We started out small, but the business has been so good that
I’ve put two additions on the building since we opened. What
makes us unique in this market is our menu. Not just because
it’s large, but also because of the different kinds of items
on it. You can get traditional meals, and you can get some
more unusual creations. It’s not your usual Italian dinner
Lombardi learned to cook while a youngster, from Italian immigrant
parents. “Then I worked my way through many restaurants, and
I guess I just happened to have a touch for it. As I said,
I’ve been at it in this place for 16 years,” he pauses to
chuckle, “and I figure in another 25 years I’ll be able to
It’s a something-for-everyone menu. More than a dozen different
appetizers take you from grilled bread with fresh tomatoes
and garlic (bruschetta, $5.25) to a serves-eight antipasto
cornucopia ($45). There’s also, if your party is smaller,
a $16 antipasto caldo, with items like scampi, clams
casino and stuffed mushroom caps.
The classic pasta è fagiola ($5.25), mixing pasta and
beans, is the sole soup choice, but the mussels (zuppa
di cozze, $8), served in a marinara sauce (and a similar
preparation of clams, $9.75) may satisfy the soup craving.
Tomatoes, garlic and cream are key ingredients in Lombardi’s
repertory. All three envelop the escargot ($8), while the
tortellini alla panna ($8.75) puts the meat-stuffed
pasta rings in a cream sauce with prosciutto and peas.
A wide-open concept like minestra, which refers to
some manner of thin soup, gets an original treatment by combining
a classic beans-and-greens recipe with slices of sausage and
pepperoni. This $7 appetizer arrived in a generous portion
(but that was the case with each course), with the greens
obviously steaming from a fresh sauté, and the aroma of garlic
permeating the surroundings.
Bringing together contrasting flavors is an art, even when
you’ve got the joyous depth of gorgonzola to set off a dish.
Lombardi’s crostini di polenta con gorgonzola ($8)
starts with what the menu innocently terms cornmeal bread,
hardly doing justice to polenta’s creaminess, and tops it
with sausage and mushrooms and onions, piles of the stuff,
with a dab of marinara and little explosions of the above-named
cheese. And you’ve got some hot (in both senses) cherry peppers
on the side. Sausage and polenta are by themselves a worthy
combo; although all of the other ingredients might seem to
carry it too far, I found that the initial surprise of the
flavors soon gave way to well-rounded, mouth-filling comfort.
The only disappointment in the meal was the Caesar salad—an
extra $2.50 when ordered instead of the included mixed greens.
Although the standard ingredients were well in place, the
dressing was light on flavor—especially of garlic, so prevalent
Entrées begin with half-a-dozen pastas, combining other meats
and seafood. Eight chicken dishes, a dozen seafood variations
and plenty of steaks and chops leave little to be desired.
In the chops department, the costoletta di vitello con
fiore di latte, at $28, is one of the most expensive,
but it’s a huge segment of veal made larger by its prosciutto
and mozzarella stuffing. The sauce, created around the chop
as it cooks, features mushrooms and fresh basil, marinara
and, to finish it, more mozzarella.
Somewhat more restrained is the scalloppine alla asparagi
($23), in which thin-sliced veal is rolled around a stuffing
of real crabmeat (a portion of which also serves as the plate’s
centerpiece), sautéed and served atop a cream sauce rendered
green with puréed asparagus—and a decorative starburst of
asparagus spears. Could I have done with less richness? Of
course. Would it have tasted half as good? Not a chance.
Homemade desserts are presented before you have a chance to
think better of it, and that’s why I left the place groaning
under the weight of a creamy tiramisu. A sample of raspberry
cheesecake proved that that’s another recipe the kitchen has
well under control.
Service is quick and very professional, and the dining room
features large, comfortable tables in an area decorated with
impressive restraint. Dinner for two, with tax and tip, dessert
and a bottle of Francis Coppolla’s hearty Rosso, was $138.
Hudson Valley Council of Girl Scouts will hold
its first-ever Cookie Cuisine event featuring local
chefs using the world famous Girl Scout cookies in entrees
and desserts! It takes place Tuesday (Nov. 12) from
6 to 9 PM at the Armory Center in Albany, and features
such area chefs as Carmine Sprio, Yono Purnomo and Ric
Orlando, and a host of talented culinary teams preparing
gourmet entrees and desserts including Lamb with Thin
Mint Stuffing, Fried Calamari with Do Si Do Peanut Dipping
Sauce, Samoa Cheesecake, Ole Ole Chicken Mole, Cranberry
Stilton Quiche with Trefoil Crust, Tagalong Peanut Butter
Mousse Cups, Aloha Chip Salmon, and Do Si Do/Aloha Chip
Penne al Forno. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the
door. For reservations, please call Sharon Smith at
489-8110, ext. 105. . . . With its one-year anniversary
approaching, the Olde 499 House (499 Second Ave.,
Troy) announces the addition of a Sunday buffet brunch,
beginning Nov. 10. Made-to-order omelettes, waffles
and carved meats will be features alongside traditional
brunch fare. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
(e-mail us at
fax info to 922-7090)
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.