up the Volume
By B.A. Nilsson
Restaurant & Pizzeria
155 Delaware Ave., Delmar, 475-7777. Serving
Mon-Thu 11-10, Fri-Sat 11-11, Sun Noon-9. AE, DC, MC, V.
Food: * * * *
again, we’re looking at a neighborhood Italian restaurant.
Mercato’s serves Delmar—it’s just in front of Del Lanes, and
thus in the heart of that village—as a pizzeria that also
boasts a list of plain and fancy entrées. It’s been there
for five years, started by Sonny and Mike Cecunajin, who opened
the first Mercato’s in Canajoharie 10 years ago and who also
own Casa Mia in Glenmont. “And they’re planning to open a
Mercato’s in Schodack,” Joe Rogers told me.
Rogers is the Delmar manager, which means he’s also behind
the bar and in the kitchen at various times. “We’re trying
to do something that’s fresh and good and has some variety,”
he says. “Mercato is Italian for ‘market.’ You’ll find a variety
of food here.”
Fried calamari ($6.25), for example, is absolutely straight-ahead,
just-what-you’d-expect fare: a large, and I do mean large,
plate of lightly breaded rings served with a marinara. The
fish is crunchy, not especially spicy, tender, and very tasty.
An appetizer special, listed on a table-talker (but usually
available, our server revealed), was built around fried mozzarella,
but not the bar-food sticks we know so well. Spedini is often
presented as an egg-dipped sandwich of cheese and prosciutto;
here the mozzarella cutlets were breaded and fried, with prosciutto
slices served alongside with roasted red pepper strips, Bermuda
onion slices and a generous helping of capers, all nestled
in a brown burgundy sauce ($8). This, and the basket of home-baked,
crusty bread, was filling. But my party persevered.
Mercato’s decor tells you much about what to expect. Tables
are heavier, chairs sturdier than in many a pizza restaurant;
decor is a little more thoughtful. A homey, publike feel prevails
once you pass the pizza portal (separated by a door from the
rest of the place, especially welcome in winter).
Pizza clearly is a selling point, and I wish I’d had a larger
group in tow to facilitate trying one. Or two. You’ve got
traditional pies available—small is $6 plain, $11 with everything,
with no surprises in the toppings list. A large pizza runs
$8.25 ($16 with everything). Calzones are $5.50 or $7.50,
with additional fillings $1 or $1.50 apiece.
Original pizza specialties are intriguing enough to distract
you from the above. Among the toppings in this category are
spinach, clams, broccoli, eggplant and ricotta, with other
supporting ingredients to round out the flavor of each ($8.50
small, $11.50 large). Clams casino or chicken pesto pizzas
are $9.50 and $13.50; primavera ($10.50, $14) combines an
array of veggies including broccoli, sliced tomatoes, fresh
peppers, mushrooms and olives.
There’s a soup of the day, and there’s always pasta e fagioli.
The latter ($3 for a cup) turned out to have a thinner-than-expected
broth with a pleasant hint—just a hint—of vinegar to round
out the flavor.
House salads are fresh but undistinguished, although the house
dressing, a creamy Italian mixture, was a suitably rich accompaniment.
For the big-dinner minded—and that was me on this recent weekend—there
is pasta. There are baked pasta dishes. There are veal, chicken
or seafood entrées. In the pasta realm, all the popular shapes
and sizes are represented. Fettuccine, gnocchi, tortellini,
ziti, linguine and more form the basis of dishes that run
from $7 to $11. Lasagna, stuffed shells, baked ziti and the
like are under $9, while eggplant parmigiana is $11.
Veal dishes are surprisingly priced at an average of $12,
although the veal Lorenzo, from the specials list, was $15—still
a good price for sautéed cutlets in a marsala sauce with tomato
slices, provolone cheese and mushrooms among the accompaniments.
Served with angel-hair pasta, it was a more than satisfying
dish, a little on the heavy side with all that sauce, but
I was well-sated when it hit the table. A side dish of sautéed
spinach ($3) featured lots of shaved garlic (and so did many
other items, once I started looking for it).
The chicken-based entrées duplicate the veal list, with parmigiana,
Française, pizziaola, piccata and marsala the classic preparations
($10-$12). In the seafood department, shrimp dominates with
clams and scallops a close second.
Going for broke, however, you’ll want to try the seafood combination
($16.50), in which your bed of linguine (red or white sauce;
we chose the latter) is crowned with shrimp, scallops, mussels,
clams and calamari. No subtle harmony of flavors here. It’s
big and buttery, more than any of my party could handle at
a single sitting.
Mercato’s has a short list of pleasant wine selections; I
had some by-the-glass Chianti because that’s what this kind
of restaurant invites. Service was pleasant and efficient,
with more than enough staff on hand. They’re pumping out a
high volume of good-quality stuff, so it’s the kind of place
where a holiday party would work well. They have a big room
in back, so if you’re having one there, invite me.
Dinner for two, with tax and tip, wine and way too much food,
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
World Home Cooking Company (1411
Route 212, Saugerties) presents its 2002 New World Champagne
Dinner on Tuesday (Dec. 17) beginning at 6:30 PM. Learn
why chef-owner Ric Orlando and the Culinary Institute’s
Michael Weiss both prefer bubbles with dinner. The menu
includes a hot oyster orgy with Mionetto “Sergio” Prosecco
from Italy; lobster and mango crepes with cucumber-curry
sauce (Pol Roget Brut), chanterelle, morel, oyster,
chicken and lobster mushrooms roasted and served with
2nd Avenue-style; kasha varnishkes (Veuve Cliquot
Yellow Label) and Hong Kong BBQ venison chop with grilled
winter veggies (or a veggie version made with smoked
tofu) (Iron Horse Brut Rose). Price is $69 per person.
Gather a crowd and reserve a table of eight for $500!
Reservations are required; call (845) 246 0900. . .
. Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail
fax info to 922-7090)