Photo by: Ellen Descisciolo
By B.A. Nilsson
3081 Carman Rd (corner of Routes 7 and 146),
Rotterdam, 357-0315. Serving Mon-Sat 6 AM-10 PM, Sun 6 AM-2
PM. AE, D, MC, V.
Cuisine: diner fare
Entrée price range: $7 (meatloaf) to $14 (14-oz. N.Y.
Ambience: way casual
Clientele: early birds and other oldsters
The Geloso family has a modest culinary empire along Rotterdam’s
Hamburg Street, which reaches back to 1968 when Italian immigrants
Joseph and Mary Ann Geloso opened Joe’s Pizza Place on Craig
Street, an operation they soon moved to Rotterdam. Thanks
to a propitious marriage, they allied with the DeMarco family,
which opened Johnnie DeMarco’s Original Pizzeria on Michigan
Avenue in Schenectady in 1945. Now their holdings stretch
across Curry Road to include the Country Inn Diner and the
adjacent Super 8 Motel—and there’s even a branch of the Geloso
family as far west as Fonda, operating a pizzeria and a luncheonette.
The Country Inn Diner has a good location, not far from the
eastern end of Interstate 890. Positioning the restaurant
as a diner suggests a wide array of accessible meals, especially
breakfast. It looks as if it could have been turned into a
fancier place, but it’s probably better suited to its location
as a diner, drawing a steady clientele of locals who can afford
Seating is at a bar or in one of two dining rooms, and the
rooms are large and sunny. In fact, they’re better suited
for daytime dining: After dark, the main dining room is lighted
by a combination of incandescent and fluorescent lights that
gives it a harsh ambiance.
Breakfast, of course, is when a diner comes alive, and here
you’ll find all the classic eye-opener items such as egg dishes,
pancakes, French toast, sausage, hash and so on, all priced
in the $3 to $5 range. In fact, five bucks will get you two
eggs, meat, home fries, juice and coffee. Add 50 cents and
score a couple of pancakes, too.
Soup tells you a lot about a restaurant. Minestre,
a frequent soup of the day, is a chunky hodge-podge that revealed
a good stock and a nice balance of seasonings ($1.25 for a
cup; $2 for a bowl, priced slightly higher at dinner). French
onion soup (a dinner item at $3.25) has a lighter stock than
I expected, with sweet onions within. It’s been Italianized,
however, with a topping of mozzarella cheese.
Like the portions, the lunch listing is larger than average.
It starts with a tossed salad and cup of soup for $3.75, or
a half-sandwich and soup for $4.50. Your roast beef, turkey,
ham, tuna and suchlike sandwiches are in the $5 neighborhood;
hot sandwiches, which include corned beef, a Reuben, tuna
melt, French dip and the like, are likewise. Burgers, served
with fries and a deli salad, range around $6. That’s also
the price of the fancy salads.
Triple-decker clubs—a vanishing breed—can be made with turkey,
roast beef, ham and Swiss, chicken or tuna salad, or the BLT
stuff; they’re a little over $6 apiece, as are the hot open-face
sandwiches. We sampled an open-faced turkey sandwich ($6.25),
which is practically a turkey dinner served on bread (white)
with a side of mashed potatoes that can (and should) share
When chicken and biscuits ($9) gets listed as a specialty
of the house, we’re not cruising along Gourmet Street. In
fact, I have to confess that my childhood was so snob-suffused
that I didn’t encounter this particular dish until I was in
my 30s and living in a very rural community where it appears
at potluck suppers.
Like the potluck fare, it’s something on the order of thick
chicken soup ladled over a large biscuit. Huge chunks of chicken
meat swim alongside reconstituted-from-frozen peas and carrots,
which isn’t as bad as it sounds—but my advice is to use fresh
carrots alongside frozen peas (that’s how I achieve that vegetable
combo when I’m cooking).
The price of chicken and biscuits drops to $7 on Monday, when
it’s a dinner special. Tuesday it’s a $7 meatloaf plate; the
$8 specials Wednesdays through Fridays are chicken parmigiana,
pot roast and broiled scrod marinara, respectively. Saturdays,
roasted pork loin ($9); roasted chicken ($8) on Sundays.
Chicken parmigiana ($10 otherwise) turns out to be a giant
slab of meat presented on a giant plate with a big side of
pasta—ziti, in our case. Nothing unexpected here. Roasted
pork loin is served with a chunk of dressing, and nets you
several thick slices of the meat alongside a tower of mashed
potatoes. We had leftovers galore after trying these dishes,
although the broccoli served alongside some of the entrées
was so watery that it didn’t survive the trip home.
Dinner entrées range from meatloaf or calf’s liver to seafood
(broiled or fried) and steaks, with an array of Italian dishes
as well. None of it tops $14, although a menu special during
one of my visits was a 20-oz. slice of sirloin served with
mushrooms, peppers, cheese and marinara for $16. This also
turned out to be one of the best entrées: The meat was a terrific
cut, it was grilled to the right consistency, and all that
extra stuff only served to make the takeout container that
Desserts are where a place like this should excel, but some
of those homemade pies fare poorly after extended cooler stays.
I had a slice of lemon meringue that had seen seriously better
days, although I can recommend the coconut custard.
Service was brisk and attentive, with a staff of hardworking
waitresses treating you like family.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
want your feedback
you eaten at Country Inn Diner,
or other recently reviewed restaurants?
Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...
one of the things I usually like about B.A.'s reviews,
that was missing here, is that he often brings his family,
specially his child to these meals and includes their
dining experiences in his columns. As a parent who is
always looking fo kid-friendly places that also serve
good food that I'd want to eat, so I especially enjoy
"his take" on what his daughter orders and
how she likes it too, as well as the entire dining experience...