Like Old Times
By B.A. Nilsson
3246 S. Broadway (Route 9), Saratoga Springs,
584-8200. Serving dinner daily 4-11. AE, MC, V.
Entrée price range: $7 (pizza Margherita) to $23 (N.Y.
Clientele: friends and neighbors
When it was the Joe Collins restaurant, under which moniker
this eatery held forth for some 40 years, the place gained
a clientele looking for predictable dining. But even the most
dedicated consistency doesn’t mean things should never change,
and the Collins succumbed, to be glib about it, to too much
Refurbished and reopened in time for last summer’s season,
Morrissey’s was the result of a collaboration between restaurateurs
Charles Brucculeri and Mike Kiernan, both area natives. They
kept the overhead lamps from the Collins days and not a whole
lot else, and the result is a pair of expansive dining rooms
flanking a busy bar.
The place is named for a Saratoga icon from the late 19th
century, bare-knuckle fighter John “Old Smoke” Morrissey,
who went into Congress, and also helped bring horse racing
to the city.
Interesting that Morrissey’s should lay claim to serving “fine
food in the Saratoga tradition.” I’m not aware of any tradition
other than trying to part the summer tourists from their money;
in a culinary sense, Saratoga can lay claim to potato chips
and not much else. It has matured to the point where you’ll
find satisfying food, although you easily can pay too much
The menu is more inventive than what you’d find here in the
old days, but it’s not breaking any new ground. While Morrissey’s
takes a reasonable approach to pricing, there’s a lot of competition
in that range. The food at Morrissey’s has its innovative
moments, and it’s clear there’s a lot of dedication in the
kitchen to putting out a good product.
Including pizza, there are a dozen appetizers, priced from
$4 for soup to $11 for a serving of littleneck clams. Three
salads are also among them, including a Caesar for $6 that
lays claim to authenticity by sporting anchovies in the dressing.
A sherry vinaigrette tops the other salads ($6 each), one
of which adds pears and blue cheese, a splendid combination,
to the tossed baby lettuce, which is very fresh and crisp.
A grilled portobello mushroom ($7) is served with dabs of
goat cheese, another good combo, with lightly dressed arugula
to finish the dish.
Three types of pizza are listed, all baked in the wood-fired
oven. Exotic combos like prosciutto and arugula or mushrooms
and white-truffle oil run $8; the $7 pizza Margherita boasted
fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and just-chopped basil that didn’t
get the kind of flavor support a pizza sauce should provide;
the crust, too, wasn’t particularly crisp or flavorful.
Other wood-fired oven dishes are entrées like roasted monkfish,
stuffed eggplant and pork tenderloin, $15 to $17. The pork
is served with sides of braised kale and yam purée, which
are commendable touches.
Of course there’s beef—a New York strip ($23), which at least
has the potential for good flavor, and its side of hand-cut
fries will ensure that the nervous traditionalist isn’t frightened.
Lower-priced entrées are a 10-ounce burger ($8), portobello
mushroom sandwich ($7) and one of my favorite summer dishes,
a poached salmon salad with a lemon-caper vinaigrette ($11).
The brief entrée list also includes a couple of fish dishes,
a couple of chicken and some pasta, but they’re imaginatively
fashioned, from the straightforwardness of haddock served
fish-and-chips style ($15) to an excellent spinach ravioli
($15), on which the pesto sauce was the star but got plenty
of support from a liberal scattering of chunks of roasted
A maple syrup glaze was almost too sweet for the salmon ($17),
although it may have been the sweetness of the accompanying
acorn squash that seemed to push this over the edge. Barley
risotto was a nice touch, offsetting some of that sweetness.
But it would never have worked against the lemon-pudding cake
($5), which was just as the name suggests, combining two textures
with a deft sweet-sour flavor. Warm apple tart with ice cream,
white-chocolate cheesecake and banana-and-chocolate strudel
are other similarly priced dessert offerings.
Early-bird specials are a big draw here, acknowledging the
demographics of the steadier customers. It wouldn’t surprise
me that regulars from the old days are continuing to visit.
One of the traditions from the Collins days also was catch-as-catch-can
service, and that also continues, with waitresses hustling
to mind their tables without much of a cooperative approach.
This being the most common problem of most area restaurants,
it’s no surprise. It’s tough to find good servers, goes the
common refrain, yet I never hear that from restaurants where
the floor staff works together under a management that knows
the secrets of superior service. Morrissey’s has a good handle
on the food end of things; let’s hope that the front of the
house comes under similar scrutiny and is appropriately smoothed.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
the event is called Cooking for Kids, it’s
grown-up food you’ll learn to make in order to
benefit area children’s charities. It takes place
from 7 to 10 PM on Tuesday (Aug. 26) at the Saratoga-Wilton
Elks Club (Route 9, Wilton), and features Saratoga-area
chefs and celebrities, including chefs Mark Graham
of the Wine Bar and David Pedinotti of One Caroline
Street Bistro. You’ll learn about gelato from
Eugene Bizzarro of Eugene’s Café Gelato, experience
a professional cheese cracking with a wheel of
Grana Padano from Italy, learn desserts
from the Brunswick Bed & Breakfast, sample
hot sauces from the Saratoga Salsa Company and
much more. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased
at Compliments to the Chef at 488 Broadway in
Saratoga, or call 226-4477. . . . Remember to
pass your scraps to Metroland
fax info to 922-7090)