The sauce-slingers at I Love NY Pizza spin dough for pies heaped with classic toppings, such as olives, garlic, and eggplant. Sausage- and pepperoni-studded pizzas decorate mouths with more panache than a diamond-encrusted tongue ring and vegetables such as spinach and broccoli add verdancy to sprawling pie fields. A large tossed salad crunches between teeth, and soda quenches thirst as dining companions pull apart cheesy slices. Meanwhile, a quartet of patrons settles down to two eight-cut pies after munching on an appetizer of mozzarella sticks. Free WiFi lets laptop-toting groups type to each other when their mouths are full, preserving table manners the way mothers always intended.
Specializing in daily-made cookies, brownies, and scones, Bake For You instills confectionery creations with local and organic ingredients, free-range eggs, and smooth Vermont butter. Cookies ($18 for two dozen) come in six fanciful flavors, including traditional tongue pleasers classic chocolate chip or old-fashioned oatmeal cookie, and free-spirited savorers can succumb to Bake For You's signature white-chocolate-chip butter cookie, which erupts with dried cranberry bursts.
At 6 p.m. each evening, the scent of sizzling burgers begins to waft from the kitchen of Munch Pit, a Central Avenue diner that once held Portelli?s Joe N? Dough Cafe. That savory scent draws in crowds for Smacker burgers, wings, house-made donuts, and frosty swirls of soft-serve ice cream. But the spot's cooks man the grill long past dinnertime, serving patrons until 5 a.m. Munch Pit's decor, like its menu, celebrates classic Americana?red stools line a soda-shop counter, and the entire cast of The Music Man marches past every 15 minutes.
The white-meat wunderkinds at Chicken Joe’s Albany quell poultry cravings with a menu of meaty subs, wraps, and salads that pair with eight satisfying sides. Mounded to the bun-rafters with bacon, cheddar, onion rings, and barbecue sauce, the heisman burger fills beef-shaped voids in stomachs and transforms anyone who eats it into smaller, metallic versions of themselves. Snack scholars can pursue degrees in deliciousness with the JR wrap’s chicken cutlet, bacon, and mayo, or inch closer to graduation with the senior sub’s chicken nuggets, honey mustard, and hot sauce. Like an opera soprano on Thanksgiving, the USA special sings with notes of grilled turkey, which is chaperoned on its mealtime rendezvous by bacon and provolone; the tuna salad loads forks with brain-boosting minerals. Dining duos bulk up their meals with a tasty twosome of sides that include mac ‘n’ cheese bites, corn fritters, or onion rings.
Professor M. Barley’s bustles with activity every night of the week, from Wednesday night trivia contests to Saturday night DJ dance parties. Amidst the hullabaloo, servers divvy out plates of hearty sandwiches mounded with homemade meatballs, pulled pork, or buffalo chicken. They also transport cooked-to-order 8-ounce burgers, nestled beneath unique toppings such as fried ravioli, guacamole, blue cheese, and fried jalapeños. Beneath the dim glow of hanging lamps and the vibrant gleam of neon signs, bartenders dole out draft beers and mixed drinks. Nearby, rows of flat-screen TVs line the dining room walls, broadcasting the latest sports games and competitive quilting bees. Tabletops scatter on an indoor patio, where breezes drift in through wall-to-wall windows during the summer, and a fireplace blazes during colder months.