11 N. Broadway, Schenectady, 374-0100.Serving
lunch Tue-Fri 11:30-2, dinner Tue-Thu 4-9 (or later), Fri-Sat
4-10 (or later). AE, CB, D, DC, MC, V
Entrée price range: $16 (prosciutto chicken) to $29
Ambiance: exotic warehouse
Clientele: fine diners and families
don’t enjoy being mean to Schenectady, even though I put in
a decade as a resident there. These days I’m most aware of
it as a location of physicians and restaurants I need to visit,
and usually looking forward more to the former.
But just up Broadway from that great embarrassment OTB, you’ll
find Parisi’s in a pair of once-shabby buildings, spruced
up by a tasteful (and no doubt costly) makeover by Schenectady’s
Experience and Creative Design.
Inside is an airy bar with a few small, high tables, set off
by neon and sporting the expected variety of vodka; colorful
draperies separate the three dining rooms, each looking like
a clever mix of warehouse chic and Son of the Sheik.
When it first opened, it was called Bar One and the emphasis
was on nightlife, but it didn’t work out to be what owners
Michael and Lisa Parisi really wanted. “We had a bar menu,”
says Lisa, “and that was taking off. So we decided to emphasize
the dining. It turned out to be so much better.”
Renamed Parisi’s Steakhouse, it reopened in March 2003 with
an emphasis on fine dining. With beef, of course, the feature,
but Parisi’s fleshes out the menu with an impressive range
of other items.
have people who come just for the seafood,” Lisa assures me,
and the swordfish preparation I sampled would be a good incentive.
Swordfish is a strong-flavored fish that stands up to a lot
of accompaniment—demands it, in fact—and a puttanesca,
that bitchin’ Italian mix of olives and capers and anchovies
in chopped tomatoes, did the trick in a generously portioned
Parisi’s scored a culinary coup by acquiring chef Danny Petrosino,
most recently helming the kitchen at the Stockade Inn but
known for his years at the Executive Suite and the Hall of
Springs. Petrosino isn’t bashful about bold flavor combinations,
which always sit well on my palate.
There’s pork osso bucco ($18) for instance, with an
apple-balsamic demi-glaze; prosciutto chicken ($16) that adds
a marsala wine sauce; and a seared salmon with a maple-chipotle
glaze ($18) served with cilantro-lime butter.
Perhaps all this carefree Atkins-izing has led to an upsurge
in beef consumption; whatever the case, the steakhouse remains
a popular concept. Although the classic model includes a salad
bar, here you’re delivered a house salad, and the house balsamic
vinaigrette is a worthy companion. When I first visited Parisi’s,
I switched it to a Caesar salad ($3 as a substitute, $10 for
a meal-sized platter) and I wasn’t disappointed: Short of
smashing your own garlic and mixing the dressing yourself,
this is about as good as you’ll find.
A tempting chateaubriand for two ($56) heads the list, but
I was alone and contented myself with a N.Y. strip, which
comes in 16-oz. ($22) and 24-oz. ($29) sizes. Even the smaller
of those makes a tummy-stretching meal.
It was served; it was beautiful. But, for a steak I’d ordered
on the rare side of medium rare, it was well on the road to
medium. A classic diner’s dilemma. Not the worst of problems,
in the long run, and my exploratory samples were delicious.
But I’ve complained so often about customers who don’t speak
up in a timely way that I felt it my duty to point this out
to the server when she returned to check on my entrée.
you’re going to get a replacement!” she declared, leaving
my plate so I’d have something to eat, returning shortly
with the new one, which was perfect. Throughout the meal,
I was well attended, something I put down to the fact that
I was dining alone and am astonishingly attractive—but the
same buoyant, careful service prevailed during my next visit,
this time with my wife and daughter.
Although the appetizer list sports a few shrimp items, my
shrimp-loving daughter opted instead for French onion soup
($4), a baked crock with a dark, dark stock and sweet and
meaty flavor. The bread and cheese have all they can do to
compete with that flavor.
Some shrimp did get passed around the table when the shrimp
and scallops prosciutto ($9) was served. The seafood is wrapped
in thin slices of the spicy cured ham and then grilled, served
with a thick drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction as well
as a creamy horseradish sauce.
A signature appetizer, I was told, is the dish of sautéed
artichoke hearts ($7). It was fairly unremarkable—artichokes
have a subtle flavor that’s easily overwhelmed—but the accompanying
garlic cream provided the necessary tongue-coating fats to
prolong what flavor there was.
Cream figures heavily into many menu items, one of the most
popular being the veal and lobster combo ($20). Small medallions
of veal and large chunks of lobster meat get the sauté treatment,
along with mushrooms, ending in a rich cream sauce that does
extra duty on the garlic-infused mashed potatoes.
And what’s fettuccine Alfredo without cream? That’s a garnish
for the chicken rolotini ($17), a presentation of rolled,
stuffed chicken breasts. Spinach and goat cheese and fontinella
cheese are among the inner components, and the breaded cutlets
are sautéed and served with the aforementioned pasta. These
entrées were large enough to require a capacious leftovers
Downtown Schenectady never has managed to hold on to a good
restaurant for very long, but this place is just different
enough—and the necessary couple of blocks from State Street—that
it stands an excellent chance of endurance. Right now it has
everything going for it.
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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!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..