We Be Frank?
By B.A. Nilsson
9 and 67E, Malta, 899-4196. Serving dinner Tue-Sun 4-close.
AE, D, MC, V.
Food: * * * * ½
Doing it your way requires you not only to assert your independence
but also to stay flexible. This is what John Bove has done
for nearly 20 years. He calls it a “1940s roadhouse atmosphere.”
To me it looks like a comfy British pub.
The My Way Café hugs a corner of Route 9 on an oddly sparse
stretch between Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs, just above
Round Lake. As you enter, you’ll see Bove’s compromise on
the smoking issue. It’s not allowed in the restaurant itself,
but he has fashioned a gazebo to one side of the place at
which you can puff away—although it displayed more snow than
ash the night of our recent visit.
Thanks to a recent redecoration, there’s a freshness about
the walls and tables and memorabilia. As before, the decor
is strictly Sinatra, with customer-contributed galleries of
album covers taking up much of the space, alongside movie
and concert posters and every other imaginable Sinatra tie-in.
And who’s that singing in the background? When time allows,
your server will be happy to honor requests, and thus I got
to enjoy selections from the Sinatra-Ellington collaboration.
I can’t overstate how comfortable it was in the dining room—actually,
one of a few smallish rooms within sight of the bar. The night
was cold and customers, typical of midweek, were few, but
we couldn’t have felt more welcome—and our server, Craig,
proved to be a spirited professional, knowledgeable and attentive.
A small dish of pasta salad and a clay pot of warm bread arrived
first, and the bread was especially appealing both in its
butter-melting temperature and yeasty flavor. This also made
it an excellent companion to the minestrone ($2.50 per cup),
in which hand-cut vegetables mingle with excellent stock.
Bove’s most recent innovation is his pricing scheme, which
plays into one of my prejudices. I like one-price deals. Partly
because I’m easily annoyed by the fussing that drives people
to order on the basis of cost alone; partly because a fixed-price
deal feels more like a family dinner.
Drawing from a Sinatra album title, Bove offers a Trilogy
Menu that gives you three schemes. Trilogy I ($17) gets you
any entrée with a cup of minestrone or a salad. For $27, the
Trilogy II deal adds an appetizer, dessert and coffee. Dinner
for two is covered by Trilogy III, where $68 gets you a pair
of Trilogy IIs and a bottle of wine. No pricing surprises.
Appetizers alone are $7 and include Italian-inspired combos
like artichoke hearts and mushrooms, peppers and salami, and
antipasto; mussels, shrimp, smoked herring and eggplant also
appear in various guises—eggplant, for instance, is available
as a mini-parmigiana or sliced and breaded and turned into
We started with prosciutto-wrapped scallops, a broiled dish
that gives the bland sweetness of scallops a salty, smoky
edge with a wrapping of thin-sliced meat. A pleasant wine
sauce makes for good bread dipping.
You’ll find plenty of entrée variety for such a small, informal
place. Bove’s own creations, the skillet pasta dishes, lead
the list with four fettuccine-based compilations: carbonara
(with spinach, prosciutto and cheese), shrimp fra diavolo
(spicy!), puttanesca Napoli (anchovies, olives, capers,
pine nuts, tomatoes), and with mussels.
Cutlets of eggplant or veal receive a variety of treatments;
chicken and beef and seafood dishes include the expected and
the innovative. And there are the Tuscan grills, giving an
extra char to chicken or shrimp, tuna or steak.
In the realm of the traditional, chicken parmigiana gives
two breast cutlets’ worth of meat gently layered with a pomodoro
sauce that’s the real thing, rich with flavor. The addition
of provolone cheese to the top layer also fills out the flavor,
and a side dish of penne completes the more-than-a-mealful
Nightly specials included ossobuco Romano, named for Bove’s
friend John Romano (onetime proprietor of Albany’s Fountain
Grill) and developed while Bove was running the Roma Restaurant
in Cohoes in the 1960s. It’s made with a pork cutlet, and
thus has a lighter flavor than the traditional version with
veal shanks. But the sauce is deep and complex and gives that
murky ossobuco flavor while the flakes of roasted pork do
a commendable veal impression. Better to think of it as a
pork dish, in which case it’s spectacular. A side of sautéed
vegetables and good mashed potatoes completed the dish.
Bove makes his own desserts, and the list usually includes
cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, apple bread pudding, a peanut
butter sundae and hot chocolate-chip pie. Then there’s “chocolate
chocolate chocolate,” which adds chocolate ice cream and chocolate
sauce to the pie, and is unfinishable even by two.
We finished with coffee and tea and a pleasant Sinatra ballad.
Dinner for two, with tax and tip, dessert and a glass of wine,
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
restaurant reviews are based on one unannounced visit; your
experience may differ. Food Rating Key: * * * * * An exciting,
fulfilling experience; the food and service are everything they
set out to be. Brillat-Savarin would be proud. * * * * Way up
there with really good food, definitely worth your dining dollar.
Julia Child would be proud. * * * Average, with hints of excitement.
Your mother would be pleased. * * A dining-out bogey; food probably
isnt the first priority. Colonel Sanders would be disappointed.
* K-rations posing as comestibles. Your dog would be disgusted.