Where to Eat in Schenectady

“Food, Glorious Food!!!!

What’s your pleasure?

Do you want a big plate of pasta with homemade meatballs or salmon sushi and spring rolls?

Will a veggie burrito hit the spot or is tandoori chicken calling your name?

Do you want grab a quick bite in jeans and t-shirt or dress-up for a fine dining experience?

Are you craving cannoli or baklava?

All of these cuisines are available in Schenectady.

Restaurants, cafes, diners, pizza parlors, hot dog stands, bakeries and food stalls.

We’ll review all the locally owned food establishments to let you know:

Who makes the best marinara sauce?
Where can you get a great burger?
Is there anywhere open at midnight to get a snack?
Where can you take the in-laws for brunch?

In other words…

Where to Eat in Schenectady

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Ferrari’s Italian Restaurant

The Ferrari family settled in  Mt. Pleasant and opened their restaurant on the point where 10th Street hits Congress Street in 1974.  They’ve been packing in diners hungry for authentic Italian food ever since.
Ferrari’s is famous for their $7.95 Wednesday night pasta special.  Get there early!
I ventured in early one Tuesday night to find they had both a $7.95 pasta special and some other dinner specials as well.
For $7.95, I had my choice of ravioli, stuffed shells or manicotti, all served with salad. $10.95 would get me a serving of chicken parmigiana and $11.95, bracciole. Both dishes were served with a salad and side of pasta.
I perused the regular menu to see what else they offered.
Appetizers all came in 2 sizes – small and large. Small sizes ranged from $8.50 for greens to $13.50 for a hot antipasto with seafood, mushrooms, eggplant and peppers. There were steamed clams and clams casino, shrimp scampi, roasted red peppers and the intriguing sounding “Italian Home Fries” – potatoes, onions, hot peppers and cheese, among the choices.
There were many veal and steak dishes from $17.25 for veal and peppers to $24.95 for Veal Mafioso – a thick veal chop smothered in onions, mushrooms and hot peppers. I had the Steak Mafioso last time I was there and it was spectacular.  Perfectly cooked steak, the hot peppers giving the dish a real pizzazz.
Seafood dishes ranged from $19.95-$26.95. Continue reading

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Bangkok Bistro

Bangkok Bistro is one of the few Schenectady restaurants that is open late for both food and drinks.  Wed- Sat. until 2:00 am.
You don’t have to wait until late night to sample some of the best Thai food around. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner, Bangkok Bistro is located on the corner of State St. and Erie Blvd. Park on the street or in the city lot diagonally across Erie Blvd.

The foyer is all dark wood, exotic and mysterious. The bar is straight ahead.  To the left and up 2 little steps is the  rectangular dining room whose windows overlook Erie Blvd. The room has dark wood tables and deep burgundy carpeting. The best part of the room, in my opinion, is the murals on the walls.  These are leftover from when this space was Nicolaus’ German Restaurant. 19th century cherubs and hunting scenes to look at while you’re munching on Thai food. Fabulous! The old tin ceiling tops it all off.

Bangkok Thai’s menu offers an extensive choice of both Thai food and sushi.

There are 18 appetizer choices ranging in price from $3.95 for Edamame or Potstickers to Continue reading

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Pig Out BBQ

Upper Union St. restaurant Rubbin’ Butts BBQ is under new ownership and management and is now known as Pig Out BBQ.
The menu is the same though new Manager, Brandon, assures me that everything is homemade.
I tried the same platter of meat as my last visit and I have to say that the brisket was as tender as ever, the ribs sweet and falling off the bone.  I liked the Carolina pulled pork even better than before. The spicy, sweet, vinegary taste was more pronounced.
This time I chose the macaroni and cheese for a side because Brandon told me he made it from scratch, himself. The macaroni was a long, ridged spiral tube and the cheddar cheese sauce was creamy and rich.
My other side was the bacon baked beans. Sweet BBQ beans with big chunks of bacon.
While packing up all my leftovers, Brandon slipped me a chocolate cake brownie.
Hours later, for my midnight snack, I indulged in this chewy, chocolaty brownie with thick fudge frosting and white chocolate shavings. Then I died and went to heaven.

Pig Out BBQ – excellent food, super friendly staff
1599 Union St. Schenectady 518-346-7447 (PIGS)

Open: Mon-Sat 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sun 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

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The Villa Tuscan Grille

At the end of August 2011, the Roman Villa closed its doors for a week and underwent a transformation to become The Villa Tuscan Grille.

The parking lot was repaved, the dining room painted and spruced up and the menu streamlined.

The food is as good as ever and some offerings that used to be occasional specials are now permanent menu listings. YEAH Rigatoni Bolognese!!!!
There is now a Risotto del Giorno and Salmon del Giorno. Chef Danny DeLorenzo does fantastic risottos.
Another new menu item I was able to sample is the Veal Chop Saltimbuca. $27.99
A tender veal chop. Luscious sauce.
The Villa Tuscan Grille is also doing homemade desserts. The bread pudding is to die for.
The staff we all love is still there – Hostess with the Mostest, Jackie and general manager, Eric.
Check out The Villa Tuscan Grille – everything you loved about the Roman Villa and a lot more.

The Villa Tuscan Grille: 273 Duanesburg Road, Rotterdam  518-355-2090

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Moon & River Café

Moon & River Café bills itself as the ”Little Café That Rocks” and that is an apt commentary.  I feel it is less like a café than a friend’s welcoming living room. Nestled on S. Ferry St. in Schenectady’s historic Stockade district it is the place to stop in for a quick cup of tea or a 5 hour stint reading your favorite novel and munching on some delectable tidbit from Moon & River ‘s extensive menu.
Entering into the “L” shaped room, you have your choice of an eclectic mix of tables & chairs, an easy chair or a small couch.  The right hand wall is lined with low bookcases filled with all sorts of reading material.  Help yourself.  The walls are adorned with works from local artists and change periodically. A recent addition to the décor is an autographed photo of movie star Eva Mendes, who was recently in Schenectady filming “ The Place Beyond the Pines”.  She stopped in several times during her 2 month stay in Schenectady.
At the back of the room is a cold case where all the cakes and pies are displayed.
Try the Mayan Chocolate Spice Cake or the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  YUMMY.
Off to the left are some more tables.
The atmosphere is very casual and stress-free.  Richard, the owner, has the calmest demeanor of anyone I’ve ever met.  The young guys and gals who work at the café are friendly and helpful. Nothing ever feels rushed.  As far as customers go, everyone from students to senior citizens hangs here. Continue reading

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Foods and Frostings

Foods and Frostings  is a charming little café/ bakery tucked into a corner of a small shopping plaza at 15 Glenridge Road. (Glenville Plaza).
Locals step in for coffee and pastries, soups, sandwiches, salads and dinners.
Five wooden tables sit in a cheery room whose large windows let in lots of sunshine.  Quotes on the importance of dining well – from the Bible and Virginia Wolfe – are written on the upper boarders of the walls.
Foods and Frostings serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. From 9- 11am, you chose from egg sandwiches (3.90), 3 egg omelets (4.95), Babka French toast (3.50) and oatmeal with fruit (3.00).
Lunch and dinner selections are served 11am ‘til closing. Choices include: garden salad(4.00), Caesar salad (6.00), add grilled chicken (+1.50) or shrimp (+2.50) to either.  10 oz. bowls of soup (3.50) for broth or (4.50) for cream soups. 6” cold subs range from (5.50 – 6.50) BLT, ham, turkey, roast beef include lettuce, tomato, onion, choice of cheese and dressing on a WW or Italian sub roll.
Hot sandwiches (6.95) on WW or sub roll include: chicken parm, meatball, pulled pork BBQ, roast beef w/ cheese, and sausage and peppers.
Hot dinner entrees include: spaghetti w/ meatballs or sausage (8.95), pasta primavera (9.95), chicken parm(9.95), chicken francaise (9.95) chicken marsala (10.95) and chicken francaise w/ shrimp (9.95).  Add (2.00) to any dinner and get soup or salad and a roll.  There are special menu items every day.
It was late afternoon when I visited, so I decided on a full dinner as I’d had no lunch.
The soup choice was New England clam chowder. The generous 10 oz. serving was chock full of large pieces of FRESH clams, diced red potato and corn in a light, creamy broth.  Fantastic. The best New England clam chowder I’ve ever had.  You could tell the chef took his time, making sure  all the components worked together.
The chicken francaise was moist and tender in a whisper light egg batter, topped with a lemon sauce. Served over narrow egg noodles with a fresh dinner roll.
People at the next table were having sandwiches.  They looked wonderful and were served with a broccoli slaw.  Two pre-teen girls were gulping down the slaw and pronounced it, “Delicious”.
Picking dessert was the hard part. There were so many cookies, cakes, brownies, pies and cupcakes to choose from.  Foods and Frostings is a full service bakery so you can also order for your parties and special occasions.
I chose several goodies to take home so I could share with friends and sample them all.
The “Radio Bar” got rave reviews.  It is a chocolate brownie with a big dollop of vanilla cream on top and then covered in hard chocolate. Yes, this could become addicting.
The Red Velvet cake and all the different cupcakes were also fantastic.  The cake moist and the frosting creamy.
A charming café with wonderful food and scrumptious baked goodies. Don’t miss out.

Foods and Frostings 15 Glenridge Road, Glenville, 518-384-2696
Monday – Friday  8:00 am – 8:00 pm
Saturday                9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Closed Sunday

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Café Nola

Laissez les Bons Temps Roulez! If the spirit of New Orleans is in you, if you love etouffee, jambalaya, hot fresh beignets and foot stomping zydeco music, then head over to Café Nola on Union St. for an authentic taste of New Orleans right here in Schenectady.

Café Nola opened up a little over a year ago and Chef/Owner Kevin Brown has been serving up real Cajun cooking to devoted fans.  Mr. Brown attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI for cooking school and graduated a year behind famed chef Emeril Lagasse.
Mr. Brown says,” The art of Cajun cooking is the unique blend of herbs & spices that serves to enhance the flavor of vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry and wild game as well as a cook who knows how to blend the ingredients together.”
Well, Mr. Brown has certainly mastered the art of Cajun cooking.  Every dish is made from scratch of fresh ingredients.
Café Nola is located on Union St. between Barrett St. and Park Pl. In front of the building there is a lovely outdoor patio with four umbrella covered tables, surrounded by purple flowers and green plants, perfect for people watching. Continue reading

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Redwood Diner

The Redwood Diner has been a Hamburg St. institution since I was a little girl; I always remember it being there.  They had been advertising $5.99 chicken parmigiana dinners on Monday night a few times over the summer.  I go there for breakfast from time to time , but hadn’t been there for dinner in a few years.  So one recent Monday, after spending the afternoon in the laundromat and missing lunch, I decided to pop in.

I was warmly greeted by Gloria Adrikpoulos who has owned the Redwood Diner with her husband, Peter, for the last 33 years. No matter how much time has passed between visits, you are always treated like a long time friend.

The layout of the dining room is open and spacious with three distinct areas.  To the right of the front door is a large area with 14 booths, a raised platform in the middle has 6 tables and several large booths stretch along the front wall overlooking Hamburg St.

The walls are a combination of exposed brick and terracotta colored textured painted walls.  Tiffany-style light fixtures with yellow/orange shades add a festive atmosphere.  Everything is spotlessly clean.

I arrived at about 3:45 pm to a sparsely occupied dining room.  At 4:00 a steady stream of diners filtered through the door, most being greeted by name.  By 5:00, the dining room was full.  Tables were taken care of quickly but nothing seemed rushed and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Continue reading

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Cornell’s Fine Italian Cuisine

I remember going to Cornell’s a few times in my younger days when it was up on Van Vranken Ave.  My memory was of excellent food in a homey atmosphere.

In the last decade, Cornell’s relocated to N. Jay St. where it became the crown jewel in the new “Little Italy” section of downtown Schenectady.  I had eaten there 2 or 3 times with my gang of cousins, thoroughly enjoying my meals, but it had been at least 2 years since we had gotten together there.

One summer evening, having a 7:00 meeting downtown, I decided to pop in for an early dinner.

The building that houses Cornell’s looks as though it was transported straight from the Mediterranean.  A light terracotta stucco, trimmed in emerald green with an ample parking lot in the back.

Through the windowed front doors, you enter a foyer and go up a carpeted ramp to the hostess station. A series of large dining rooms is to the left and to the right is the bar area and a smaller dining area with 8 tables which overlooks Jay St. through large windows.

The bar is a mahogany wood affair, seating about 10, with comfortable looking stools and a handsome and affable bartender.  Although the bar area was separated from the front dining area only by a low wall and got full as people came in waiting for their tables, I never felt that it intruded on the front tables. Continue reading

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Scotti’s Restaurant

Scotti’s had been a favorite lunch spot when I had worked on Upper Union St. some years back, but as I am usually on the other side of town during the day, I hadn’t been in for awhile when my friend and I stopped by for lunch one recent hot, muggy Thursday afternoon. I had forgotten just how good the food is at this cozy, charming neighborhood restaurant.

Apparently, many people know how good the food is because at 1:10 pm on a summer weekday afternoon, the 14 table dining room was half full. The walls are the color of the Tuscan sky at sunset and racks of impressive wine bottles complete the simple décor.  Outside, on the sidewalk, is an enclosed patio area surrounded by flowering vines which allow for dining privacy and Union St. people watching. Ordinarily, I’d opt for the patio but this was a day that screamed, “Stay in the air-conditioning”. Continue reading

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