Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pasta Pane: Not Your Typical Italian

Pasta Pane, Clifton Park
Not your typical Italian restaurant cuisine

Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 9 • Food 8 • Ambiance 8 • Price - $$$

Clifton Park is clearly onto something. It has figured out that it needs more than family-oriented chain restaurants to satisfy its population. Enter Pasta Pane, a delightful rustic Italian restaurant in the Shoppers World Plaza just off Route 146. It’s owned by David Zecchini, the man behind Forno Bistro, Chianti Il Ristorante and Boca Bistro, all in Saratoga Springs.

Entering Pasta Pane feels a bit like walking into a haven of a bustling, joyful activity. They got the décor right, and that occurs less often than you might think. The space, a former Applebee’s, is large and expansive, with several rooms and levels adding visual interest and creating little nooks and interesting spaces. True to its billing as a rustic Italian eatery, there is a lot of wood, wrought iron and eclectic lighting fixtures, creating a warm, inviting environment.

On a recent Sunday evening, my friend Tina and I walked in to find the place absolutely packed. Not only were most of the tables filled, but the large bar in the center of the restaurant was also teeming with an animated crowd. Luckily, we had reservations, which I highly recommend.

Read the full review here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not the Same Old Chinese Food

Thinking outside the Chinese food take-out box...

It’s odd to me that with a Chinese food take-out establishment on every other corner, there really are very few good quality sit-down Chinese food restaurants in our area. It seems that with the more recent Japanese dining obsession that Chinese food has taken a back seat.

It’s too bad, as I learned recently at Ala Shanghai in Latham, as Chinese food is as varied as the many regions that make up this expansive country. In other words, if you think lo-mein and wonton soup are the extent of Chinese cuisine, you are sadly under-informed. The good news is that getting a Chinese food education is a delicious and adventurous experience. Are you ready to learn?

My first lesson came recently when friend and fellow foodie, Frank, and I visited Ala Shanghai in Latham on a Friday night. The parking lot was absolutely packed, and there was a line out the door. Apparently many of you have already learned what the regional food of the Shanghai area has to offer. (Reservations on a Friday or Saturday night are obviously recommended).
Once we nudged our way inside it was only a five-minute wait. We were seated in the back of one of the two main rooms, nicely out of the way of the hustle and bustle of the hungry hoards. The space was a nice balance - the décor was casual, yet the white linen tablecloths and shiny black chopsticks made it feel special.
Read the full article here...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ready to test your Hipster Quotient?

Start with a trip to the Capital City Gastropub...  Just as the name suggests, the new Capital City Gastropub takes the traditional pub experience and elevates it. The hype around the recent opening of this restaurant virtually promises that your time here will be an ultra cool, inventive and creative dining experience.
But the real question is: can you handle it?

I would argue that Albany is more than ready for this very hip experimental restaurant. And apparently, the developers (Wine Bar and Bistro owner Kevin Everleth and Chef Jason Baker) agreed when they opened back in September of 2011. After all, the basic concept of re-inventing tried and true classic dishes is a sound one.

Capital City Gastropub’s space at 261 New Scotland Avenue in Albany has been well-appointed to match its identity – it’s simultaneously funky, warm, cozy and energetic. The walls feature dynamic abstract oil paintings and all 12 or so tables offer a view of the bar and the open kitchen. The only flaw was the “light rock” music playing in the background; perhaps some M83, Cut Copy or Yo La Tengo would better serve the urban and modern setting?
Read on for my full Restaurant Review in this month's Capital Region Living Magazine...
and then get your bad self down there...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bistro LeRoux: Style and sophistication in the North Country

As I was getting off exit 20 of the Northway I had no idea what to expect from Bistro LeRoux. To be honest, I had not heard of it before and I am not that familiar with dining options in the Lake George area, but just the name of the restaurant seemed promising.
The restaurant, located on the corner of Bay Road and State Route 149, is housed in a quaint yellow house with charming striped awning-covered windows. On a recent Saturday night, my friend Tina and I walked in to find an urban and stylish crowd heartily enjoying themselves. Okay…this was encouraging.

Read the entire article here...