Perreca’s Bakery at 33 Jay St. in downtown Schenectady, has been the place to get the best Italian bread in Schenectady since 1913. In November 2009, Maria Papa, granddaughter of the original owners, opened up a café next door to the bakery and the customers have been streaming in ever since.
Go through the front door at 31 Jay St. and you enter into a compact space with clean lines, an exposed kitchen and floor to ceiling windows which let in lots of light and a people watching view of Jay St.
At breakfast and lunch, you order at the counter, choose a seat a one of the 5 booths or 9 tables and your food will be brought out to you. Full table service is at dinnertime.
Breakfast choices include: eggs any style served with Perreca’s great bread, pancakes and French toast made with buttermilk. Add on bacon, ham or sausage.
I was intrigued by an item billed as “Eggs in Purgatory” ($5.50). I was told it was 3 poached eggs in fra diavalo sauce. I couldn’t imagine eggs in tomato sauce, it sounded rather yucky to me, but being the daredevil food connoisseur that I am ( OK, you can stop rolling in the aisles, now), I decided to give it a try.
Exactly as described, 3 eggs smothered in house made spicy sauce and accompanied by 2 buttered slices of The Bread, arrived at my table.
I eyed it warily. Putting the spoon into a yolk, I let it seep into the sauce and then sopped it up with The Bread. In a word, it was – FANTASTIC!
It became my new favorite breakfast and I crave it like a fix.
Lunch brings a choice of Italian sandwiches, personal pizzas, salads and soups. The zuppa de pece I had recently was a wonderful broth of tomato, clam and oregano with pieces of the tenderest calamari.
For special sandwiches, instead of having it on regular bread, have your meat between 2 slices of tomato pie.
Tomato pie, for you uninitiated, is a ½ inch thick square of pizza dough, brushed with tomato sauce, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served cold. It has been another staple of the original Perreca’s bakery and is available there for $1.25 per slice.
There is always a daily hot dish and a pasta special.
Dinner is served 4:00 – 8:00 pm and entrees include a cup of soup or salad. In addition to a standing menu, each day there is one special dish. On Thursday and Sunday it is roast lamb. ($15) I love lamb and never cook it at home so this is a big treat. Slow roasted in a rosemary seasoning the lamb is fork tender and served with roasted vegetables and potatoes. Saturday is another treat. Osso Buco ($17) – slow roasted veal shanks, fall off the bone tender, served over a delicious risotto.
One of the daily entrees is meatloaf ($13). This is comfort food at its best. The flavorful beef is bound with rice instead of breadcrumbs so it isn’t heavy. Served with fluffy, homemade mashed potatoes and veg.
If you’d rather have pasta than potatoes, no problem. Perreca’s sauce is wonderfully tomatoey and garlicky.
The personal pizzas ($10) are about 10 inches in diameter and thin and crispy like you’ll get in Italy. You have a choice of about a dozen toppings, including eggs in purgatory. Have as many as you want, it’s all the same charge.
There are also some selections on a Kids Menu.
The portions at Perreca’s are generous but make sure you save room for dessert. Perreca’s bread pudding is warm and buttery and so good you’ll wiggle your toes.
The cupcakes are the best in the area, in my humble opinion. Cupcakes have become the rage in the last few years but so many bakeries make it all about the tower of frosting and not the cake, which half the time , is only about 25% of the cupcake. Perreca’s cupcakes are about the cake. Dense, yet moist. The layer of frosting enhances the cake, not overwhelms it. Chocolate, vanilla, red velvet and espresso flavors will tempt you. At $3.00 each they are also less expensive than the other bakeries because – drum roll please – they are enormous. 2 people could easily share a cupcake and each would still have a very generous portion. ( Not that I would ever share, but you may have better discipline, or less of a sweet tooth than I.) The cupcakes are also available at the bakery.
Don’t forget the coffee. Everything from regular decaf to lattes is served ($1.95)
The service is always friendly and accommodating.
MORE Perreca’s Cafe. A family-friendly atmosphere, good food, good service – a Schenectady tradition.
MORE Perreca’s Cafe 31 North Jay St. (518) 377-9800
Mon – Tue: 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM / Wed – Sun: 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM