Italian dining in the heart of Troy
Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 8 •Food – 8 •Ambiance – 3 •Price – $$$
By Victoria Moran
Troy has long been noted for its outstanding dining options and Anselmo’s certainly adds to this reputation. With the development of Troy’s “Little Italy” area and only a few short blocks from the Italian Community Center, the restaurant is perfectly situated at 95 Ferry Street.
Stepping into Anselmo’s restaurant in Troy is like stepping back in time. Somewhere between the front door and the bar, I began to think it was 1950; my husband thought it felt more like 1940. How wonderful it was to look up over the bar to see an old movie playing on the TV in black and white! Many years ago, this was the Volcano Restaurant, which I remember well as a child. It was always a popular place for good food and socializing with friends.
On his business card, owner Anselmo “Sam” Zoleo describes his place as a “No nonsense Italian restaurant”. While the décor (which can be considered either charming or shabby depending on one’s opinion) reflects that, it certainly isn’t true when it comes to the food, which is indisputably wonderful. It varies from standard Italian fare to innovative, creative dishes. If you know Sam, you know that any dish he gets his hands on turns out fabulous.
We arrived at Anselmo’s on a stormy, Saturday night. It’s typically packed (always a great testament to a restaurant’s cuisine) and you sometimes can’t get a table until 9pm. But, due to the inclement weather, we were escorted to our table right away.
Our dinner began with a recommended appetizer of mozzarella en carrolla, which is Italian bread with mozzarella sautéed in butter with capers and anchovies. It was fabulous, but can fill you up quickly. You also have to ignore the fat and carb contents to enjoy it, which we did. Please do not tell my cardiologist about this.
We each were going to order a house salad, but our friendly waitress told us it was large enough for two, so we shared. It was loaded with salami strips, green and black olives, mescaline greens, red onions and loads of garlic. The dressing, which had an oil and vinegar base, was extremely sweet. My husband loved it; but I’m not fond of sweet dressings and prefer the standard oil and vinegar. I inquired as to the secret ingredient that made it so sweet, but our waitress didn’t know. Many restaurants use orange segments to sweeten a dressing, but there was no evidence of that here (my guess is sugar). We were also served complimentary Italian bread and dipping oil; a standard at many restaurants these days.
The menu is varied with many outstanding options for veal, chicken, seafood and of course, pasta. My husband chose the seafood fradiovolo and I had the roasted salmon with a basil crust. The wine menu is quite limited, but they do offer an inexpensive bottle that is their featured wine on each table and they have a full bar. We both opted for a glass of Chianti to accompany the entrees.
The fradiovolo had shrimp and Mahi Mahi. It was appropriately spicy and the fish was perfect, not at all tough or rubbery as it can sometimes get. You could order this dish with marinara if you don’t like spicy sauces. However, if you’re fine with spice, this is outstanding, and not unbearably hot.
The roasted salmon’s basil crust was perfect, not overbearing. It was served with a lemon and spinach fettuccini that could have been a great meal in itself. Because the salmon was roasted it was very moist and not the least bit overcooked which allowed the flavors to settle well. The combination of basil pesto and salmon is always a good one, and roasting opens up the flavors beautifully.
As I sat spying on fellow diners and what they were eating, it was apparent that every entree was carefully and artfully prepared. The wonderful smells alone can make you gain a few pounds. The folks next to us raved about the braciole.
The desserts were light in the offering—cheesecake, tiramisu and cannoli. The latter was the only item made at the restaurant, or at least the filling was. My partner, the cannoli king, thought it was outstanding. It wasn’t too sweet and it wasn’t cluttered with chocolate chips and candied fruit, an affront to any reputable cannoli.
When it comes to the little taken for granted extras, Anselmo’s is a bit lacking. I ordered cappuccino, which was too watery and covered with whipped cream. If you use a sugar substitute, pack your own; they only offer straight sugar. That must be part of the “nonsense” that he is trying to avoid.
Dinner came in at $90.55 with tax, well worth the meal and the meal the next day that the portions allow.
Service was very good; however it was a stormy night, so it I wasn’t able to judge a normal busy Saturday evening. They are well staffed, though, so it should be fine.
Anselmo’s is located at 95 Ferry Street in Troy. Hours are Wednesday-Saturday 4pm-10pm. For more information call 272.6100.
Victoria Moran is a freelance food writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Offering dishes to suit all tastes
Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 8 •Food – 8 •Ambiance – 8 •Price – $$$
By Judith Power
When you hear an eatery described as a “steakhouse”, you might have visions of the following: a maitre d’ who looks like Andy Rooney, a black and white tiled floor so shiny you can fix your hair in its reflection, and steaks the size of small dogs. If this is your idea of a steakhouse, you won’t recognize Parisi’s as such. The downtown Schenectady restaurant has a huge menu, with something for every taste—even if you’re not a steak person.
Walking into the small lobby, you have no idea what you’ll discover around the corner—a very nicely decorated modern bar, complete with high tables, a well kept bar top and a mean Rob Roy. The dining area itself is laid out in three tiers. Granted the tiers are merely steps, but they open up (or cozy up) the space to accommodate plenty of guests who will feel neither crowded, nor out in another zip code.
The menu is huge and I mean that in a few different contexts. A wide range of appetizers is offered, everything from a simple bruschetta to escargot. I had the calamari, a stand-by favorite of mine. What the presentation lacked, the taste compensated for and then some. The rings were very tender and lightly breaded, served with an aioli and a marinara. Grant, my husband, had an interesting combination of shrimp and scallops that had been wrapped in a thin jacket of prosciutto before they were grilled and served with a grilled lemon and balsamic syrup. The syrup made the dish, as it was a perfectly reduced pairing of sweet and tang to accompany the seafood.
The wine list was succinct, but included varietals from New York, California, Italy, France and Australia, several of which were offered by the glass. I enjoyed the Maso Canoli, which turned out to be a good pairing to my calamari. Grant enjoyed an Orvieto, which also went well with his smoky appetizer.
At first glance, the dinner menu appeared to be suffering from an identity crisis. It offered many dishes and many types of dishes. But the more I studied, it became evident that everything was seemingly well thought out with interesting combinations of sauces, vegetables and meats. You can get anything from a simple pasta dish, a piece of salmon, lobster tails or even Chateaubriand for two. Though the lobster and tenderloin are over $30 and $50 respectively, the highest-priced entrée isn’t above $24.
Rather than venture into his usual territory of menu exploration, Grant had a filet. The steaks on the menu were of the usual variety, and there was actually a temperature chart above the selections to help you with ordering. He asked for it “Pittsburgh” style (charred on the outside, very rare in the center) even though that wasn’t offered on the chart. The server was all too happy to oblige, and it was perfectly done. The steaks come with an optional choice of one of eight dipping sauces served on the side. He tried the peppercorn/blue cheese sauce, which was outstanding. It was served with a salad (also with dressing on the side, so as not to drown the crisp Romaine) and smashed potatoes. The potatoes were not creamy or runny, rather lightly mashed to leave some lumps, the way potatoes should be done.
I had the halibut, lightly breaded and sautéed, served with rice that reminded me of some of the fabulous dirty rice recipes I’ve come across in Louisiana. A julienne of vegetables sautéed in (almost too much) olive oil, finished the dish. I couldn’t even think of cleaning my plate, nor could Grant. If you leave Parisi’s hungry, it’s your own fault.
That said, we had to try a dessert. The menu was loaded with chocolate, too heavy for us at the time. We were given a description of a fried banana cheesecake and were essentially talked into trying this described “light” dessert. Once again, our server was right on, and it was the perfect treat to share and satisfy a post-dinner sweet tooth.
A few other tidbits about the restaurant: a full lunch menu is served, and it has a variety of sandwiches (some on Panini!) and entrée-sized salads. Also, if you’re a fan of prime rib, it is offered on Friday and Saturday nights. If that is done as well as our dinner, you won’t be disappointed.
Parisi’s is closed Sundays and Mondays. The exception is the first Monday of the month when a pre-fixe wine dinner is offered (reservations are required…I’m told they sell out in a hurry) and Sundays during February, when “Phantom of the Opera” is performing at Proctors. n
Total price: $130.84 including 25 percent tip.
Parisi’s Steakhouse is located on 11 North Broadway, Schenectady. Hours are Tuesday-Friday 11:30am-10pm, Saturday 4pm-10pm. For more information call 374.0100.
Judith Power is a freelancer food writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.