by: B.A. Nilsson
25 Hudson Ave., Chatham, 392-6200. Serving
lunch Thu-Tue from 11:30, dinner Mon-Tue, Thu 5-9:30, Fri
5-10:30, Sat 3-10:30, Sun 3-9. Brunch Sun 9-3. AE, MC, V.
continental with an Italian touch
Entrée price range: $13 (linguine puttanesca) to $34
(filet mignon and lobster)
Ambiance: small-town friendly
Clientele: big-town friends
as it is, soon will be no more. This bodes well, because the
entire operation is picking up and moving to the adjacent
building, a former hotel that will house the restaurant, a
separate baking operation, and much, much more. “We hope to
be in there within eight months,” says Monica Lippera. “And
we’ll have much more room, including a wrap-around porch for
The family has been in the business for more than 25 years,
many of them as proprietors of the Italian Delight, a Columbia
County mainstay in its heyday. They owned a property in Chatham
that was home to a succession of failed restaurants, “and
we finally decided to do it ourselves.” They opened Lippera’s
Bistro nearly two years ago with the goal of combining fine
dining and a family-friendly atmosphere. This they’ve accomplished
by offering two dining areas, the less-formal one a tavern
that’s intended for casual use—but where the emphasis is on
relaxing, not boozing, with families more than welcome—and
a nicely appointed room with more formal settings.
We dined in the fancy room on the occasion of a couple of
visits and thus were able to contrast two types of meal, one
of them surrounded by a chaos of extended family on a busy
night, the other as a threesome with the place pretty much
to ourselves. Those are restaurant business extremes that
tend to expose the service shortcomings; happily, in neither
case were there problems.
It’s nice to have a pair of bakers in the family, and it’s
even possible that Lea Lippera-Harvey and her husband, Robert
Harvey, will have their own storefront in the new (or old)
building. Meanwhile, flip up the napkin on the basket that
arrives early in your meal and inhale the aroma. Focaccia
with onions was served the first night; it had a touch of
spinach the next time we visited.
The menu covers two pages and balances Italian-inspired classics
with newer ideas. Mussels provencale ($7), for instance, arrived
in a large bowl, the occupants of which were steamed to melt-in-the-mouth
tenderness, the flavors accented by a garlicky tomato broth.
Among our large party were a number of stubborn traditionalists,
which caused an appetizer of shrimp cocktail ($10) to arrive.
It turned out to be the classic array of chilled jumbo shrimp
with a homemade, horseradishy cocktail sauce.
Clams I typically enjoy more in the anticipation. If they’re
terrifically fresh or creatively cooked, I like them. But
I rarely order them. Whatever madness persuaded me to order
an appetizer of baked stuffed clams ($6) was rewarded by a
impressive dish: three fat shells stuffed to the brim with
a clam-rich filling, and not the usual festival of breading.
Soupmaking, as I like to insist, is the mark of a kitchen’s
ability, and the creamy mushroom-zucchini compote proved that
chef Kenneth Lammer enjoys and understands the pleasurable
ways in which ingredients combine. The soup was thick and
creamy without relying overmuch on cream, rich with mushrooms
but not oppressively filling, which is a magical combination.
Entrées include a salad, and you have a choice of a classic
Caesar, which is just that, or mixed baby greens and any of
the excellent dressings.
Vegetarian items include sautéed tofu, the firm variety, drizzled
with a cranberry-ginger sauce ($14), which seems to suit the
otherwise flavor-challenged curd quite well. It’s served with
a pilaf of white and wild rice. Eggplant rollatini ($15) is
a feast of cheese, a large bowl of eggplant slices wrapped
around ricotta and parmesan and topped with marinara and mozzarella,
a kid-pleasing dish with a side of spaghetti.
The pain-in-the-neck quotient was high with the large party,
what with three takers for Wiener schnitzel ($19), none of
whom wanted the accompanying spaetzle. You might as well take
the corned beef and dismiss the cabbage. In any event, the
server was happy to oblige with extra vegetables (grilled
mixed squash) or potatoes as requested, and supplied our prime
rib eater with an order of well-made spaetzle.
Prime rib ($20), of course, is the least challenging of entrées,
both to prepare and to consume, and it requires no analysis
from me. But the Wiener schnitzel deserves acclaim. It’s a
menu rarity, and an elegant dish when classically prepared,
as was the case here. Two large veal cutlets are floured,
egg-battered, breaded and sautéed. It all has to be freshly
done, and the flavor, accented by lemon wedges and capers,
Another little-seen item—a special during our slow-night visit—is
brasciole, here prepared by rolling beef with a thin slice
of prosciutto around raisins and mozzarella cheese, lightly
sauced with marinara.
Pasta and poultry items tend to overlap, as in the chicken
fettuccine ($15), a huge portion that mixes sautéed chicken
with good fettuccine in a large bowl, dressed with sun-dried
tomatoes in a very creamy sauce. Chicken Lammer ($17) is a
corn-rich specialty presenting cornmeal-breaded cutlets served
over a tomato-rich polenta, along with sun-dried tomato and
Other classics include chicken Marsala ($17), veal saltimbocca
($19), linguine with white clam sauce ($15), plenty of steak—you’ll
find something you like or they’ll help find it for you.
Desserts are equally impressive. A vanilla caramel cake sported
three layers of dense white cake with a creamy frosting; meringue
shells are served with fruit, and the crème brûlée was a perfect
confection of creamy sweetness under that candied crust. The
restaurant is a jewel, worthy of its larger location.
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want your feedback
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Bistro or any
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be placed in running for Nicole's Bistro Gift Certificate.
me again B.A. The Chain Restaurant loving
fat guy who loves big, heaping helpings
of prepared, marketed fried things. Even
could care less about Daniel's at Ogdens
to be perfectly honest. I read the review
mostly because my office stares right at
it's front door and we all watched as the
refurbishing was done. My problem here today
is with your first two paragraphs.
kind of news article that bugs you is what
percentage of Americans spend 30 minutes
or less preparing food!?!? You know what
kind of news article bothers me? "Remains
of a woman found stuffed in a barrel......"
or "....Albany Police Lt. dies from
injuries sustained in shootout with suspect."
I realize food and it's service and preparation
may be the all consuming obsession in your
life, but please tell me you have a bigger
heart than that.
the reason "44 percent of weekday meals
in the U.S. are prepared in 30 minutes or
less.." is that some people work 2
or 3 jobs. Some people may be a single parent
with young children, who may only have less
than 30 minutes to spare.
I promise you this, the next time I get
35 minutes or so.........I'll order some
Kobe Beef, puff pastry, shitake mushrooms
and the ingredients to make a proper buerre
blanc....dim the lights, put on a bowtie,
apron and plenty of snotty attitude and
invite you over for dinner.
Chicken Fingers ok for an appetizer?
really love this guys knack for picking
"the best kept secrets" in the
Capital District. Way to go B.A.! Keep up
the good work!
Leon's review was wonderful. Her descriptions
of the various selections made me hungry.
I am saving the review and putting it on
my refrigerator to remind me to take a busman's
holiday to Great Barrington for melitzana.
eaten here twice- I agree with all said
by Nillson- HOWEVER- No authentic Mexican
place should be totally rated without mention
of their Margarita quality -which is superior-very
limey with just the right ingredients- and
their selection of Mexican Beers-Tecata-Negro
Modello and Dos Equis Dark and Amber. Excellent
Selection. Another mark of good Mexican
cuisine is the freshness of their pico di
gallo-the true MEXICAN salsa- again excellent.
If it were not for the diner atmosphere
I would have rated it 4 stars- and yes-
please bring back the star rating system
which I relied on heavily.
surprisingly nice effort for a city which
seems to only allow Italian restaurants
very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!