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If you are looking for a romantic meal for two or an elegant night out to catch up with friends, Tosca in Troy, NY is a quietly elegant restaurant to check out. Located on a quaint side street in an historic part of town, Tosca's facade couldn't have been more appealing.

We were warmly greeted by the hostess who quickly took our coats and seated us in a prime spot - next to the grand piano. Once seated, I was able to take in the great atmosphere...Rich wood, gilded walls and custom Italian chandeliers provided a sophisticated yet understated Tuscan backdrop. Playful musical instruments and a unique mural added character. Soft conversation accompanied light piano tunes floating in the air.

Shrimp CocktailSophisticated, modern and well rounded, the menu was nothing short of impressive. It was apparent this wasn't your run-of-the-mill restaurant. My accompaniment and I enjoyed warm, crusty Tuscan bread as we sifted through the extensive wine list. We then had some appetizers: Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (one of the specials of the night) and one of my favorite menu items, Pan-Seared Crab Cakes served in a Lemon Pepper Citronette with a Mango Chipotle Aioli all over Winter Vegetable Slaw. The starters came out beautifully plated with a professional, artistic flair. The shrimp was wonderful and the crab cakes were excellent. The sweet Jonah crab was fresh and decadent and the aioli was zesty...absolutely to die for.

Filet Mignon EntreeFor dinner, I decided on the Bronzed Salmon with Winter Lentils, Grilled Asparagus, and Balsamic Glazed Cipollinis. The salmon was flaky, perfectly seasoned and served with a light, sweet and savory Tahitian Vanilla Champagne Sauce. My partner enjoyed the Roquefort Encrusted Filet Mignon, char-grilled with Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Balsamic Glazed Cipollinis. The crisp winter vegetables were a perfect balance to the decadent filet.

Bronzed SalmonService at Tosca was second to none. Our waitress was upbeat, charismatic and very knowledgeable with the menu. She had previously worked for Proprietor and Chef Larry Schepici when he was the prestigious chef at Sargo's in Saratoga Springs, New York. She enjoyed working with him so much there, when she heard he was opening his own restaurant in the November 2006, she just had to be a part of it. The other wait staff was extremely attentive as well - my water glass was never empty.

Creme Brulee DessertPersonal French-pressed Coffee added a special touch to a normally average after-dinner beverage. For dessert, I picked the classic Crème Brûlée, a great choice! A delicious caramelized layer covered rich, creamy custard, accompanied with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. My partner ordered the Flourless Chocolate Cake Tasting and it was the best dessert of the night. This dish couldn't have been better, especially for a chocolate lover.

Tosca is a wonderful establishment. It is classy and elegant, yet comfortable and approachable. I plan on going back and having a seat at the bar - a casual, hip spot to have a cocktail. Come for the ambiance. Come for the service. Come for the food!