Covers Plain, but the Book Aint
By B.A. Nilsson
1965 Central Ave., Colonie, 456-7574. Serving
dinner Sun-Wed 4-10, Thu-Sat 4-11. AE, D, MC, V.
Cuisine: blue-collar Italian
Entrée price range: $6 (steak-and-cheese sub) to $15
(shrimp scampi over pasta)
Clientele: neighbors and longtime friends
We finished a meal and scraped back our chairs and I, if I’m
remembering correctly, even slapped my formidable belly. The
take-out containers towered before us, our dessert plates
held more than a little residue. “That was great,” someone
said. “Really, really good,” agreed another.
Which came as a bit of a surprise, because our expectations
of De Marco’s in Colonie were based on the rather plain look
of the place, a look that suggested the food might be an afterthought.
More to the point, the most impressive feature was the lively
bar, flanked by two dining rooms with unclothed tables. And
it took a few minutes before we were noticed and seated.
Once we settled in, however, and service kicked into gear,
we sampled a selection of mainstream Italian items nicely
prepared and presented in a basic but attractive manner.
De Marco’s opened almost 35 years ago, run for the first three
decades by Rose De Marco, then by her granddaughter Christine.
Last April, it was sold to Torey Scaringe, who is maintaining
the name and menu, and has hired chef Michelle Vincent to
carry on the recipes as well as come up with some new ones.
One of which is a preparation of Asiago-filled ravioli served
with a vodka cream sauce. It was listed on the small page
of specials handed out with the menus, but the menu itself
covers a wide range of pasta dishes, pasta-and-meat combos,
salads, subs and even an entrée of top sirloin with pasta
or fries ($12).
Appetizers include the day’s soup ($2 or $2.50), which is
included with your entrée if you don’t choose salad instead.
Chicken Florentine provided a good example of some superior
soupmaking skills, with chicken bits and spinach competing
for what little room remained in the cup.
Standard bar fare like fried mozzarella sticks and jalapeño
poppers are offered; chicken fingers and wings also are popular
starters, all of it priced in the $5 range. Among the less
common items are spinach or pepperoni pizza bread and chicken
quesadillas—and there’s a $7.50 sampler that combines a bunch
of the fried stuff.
Antipasto is offered in three sizes; we picked the middle-sized
one for four of us (“large” as opposed to “jumbo,” $10.50)
and received a very hefty plate of lettuce (mostly iceberg)
and the standard array of sliced cold cuts, cheeses, olives,
carrots and the like. Not the most flavor-varied antipasto
I’ve seen, but it was exactly what I was expecting and provided
whatever greens this meal would feature.
Pizza is another De Marco’s option, six- through 12-cut pies
($7.25 to $10.75) with plenty of topping options, or—for a
dollar more—you can have it configured as a white pizza. With
grilled eggplant, fresh garlic, broccoli, meatballs and more
on the toppings list, it’s simple to configure a pie to your
liking. Spinach pizza is highlighted on the menu, though,
so we sampled one of them and were pleased to find the spinach
fresh, the crust thin and crisp, and fresh tomatoes and feta
cheese among the accompaniments.
Chicken parmesan ($11.50) joins similar preparations of chicken
and veal on the entrée list, while meatball parmesan is among
the “baked specialties.” The chicken dish begins as a sautéed
cutlet topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella before hitting
the oven. Sprawling across a large plate, it’ll feed you for
a couple of days, with a side of pasta to make it even more
Other entrées include standard preparations of spaghetti,
ziti, linguine and cappellini, with clam sauce or garlic
and anchovies making it into a couple of the dishes. Ziti
is available in a couple of baked configurations, a list that
also includes chicken or veal sorrentino ($11.50 or
That Asiago ravioli had sold out, much to the disappointment
of one of my party, so, the server asked, “How about if we
just do some of the regular ravioli in the vodka cream sauce?”
And so it was done: a plate of big, circular ravioli appropriately
sauced with the pinkish cream, the flavor a rich combo of
earthy and sweet.
looked homemade; with meatballs or sausage it’s $10. Easy
decision: Sausage has a more complicated flavor than meatballs,
and hot sausage is more satisfying than the sweet variety.
And the sausage here was crisp and tasty, a flavor carried
into the baked meat lasagna ($10), where sausage is featured
amid a tower of pasta and ricotta and mozzarella cheese, another
big portion that ended up traveling home.
very satisfying,” says Scaringe, “and I like the challenge.”
He has plans for improvements that include a patio out front
and the return of weekday lunches. “I’d also like to do a
Sunday brunch, a buffet.” What about tablecloths in the dining
had a big demand for that,” he answers. “We’re trying to keep
this a family-oriented place, and when you get a party of
five with three screaming 2-year-olds, you appreciate having
no linen there.”
Desserts include a horribly rich chocolate cake and a not-so-rich-but-still-rich
spumoni ice cream, flavors easy to share around the very satisfied
table. So don’t let the casual look of the place fool you—there’s
serious eating going on here.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.