A stone fireplace dominates one corner of The Pasta Factory's dining area, giving the space a homey ambiance that complements Tuscan-yellow walls and international comfort foods. Using an eclectic mix of Italian, American, and Asian recipes, the chefs spend mealtimes blanching pastas, sautéing cuts of sirloin steak, and hand-polishing each sesame seed. The kitchen also strives to keep its cuisine fresh by making marinara, pesto, and fiery general tso's sauces in-house.
When restaurant-industry veterans Tim and Colleen Holmes bought The Wheat Fields in 2004, they felt that there was ample room to grow the business—in more ways than one. The husband-and-wife team knew that some aspects should remain unchanged: they still wanted their chefs to handcraft the nearly 20 daily shapes and flavors of pasta that Saratoga Springs residents had come to love, including gnocchi and tagliatelle. But they also knew that the venue and menu were expansion-ready diamonds in the rough. The duo invested more than $1 million to double the space, diversify the offerings, create a huge mahogany bar and lounge area, and attract high-caliber food and wine experts.
The Holmes' vision and hard work paid off. Today, Wheatfields Restaurant and Bar is thriving, serving local, farm-to-table produce, house-aged steaks, and, of course, fresh pasta. The site's ongoing success has prompted the Holmes to open a second location in Clifton Park—Wheatfields Bistro and Wine Bar—and the accolades keep coming. OpenTable diners gave the Saratoga Springs location Hot Spot and Vibrant Bar Scene awards and voted the Clifton Park location a winner in the Italian and Good for Groups categories. Also, both sites have earned Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator thanks to an impressive international wine list and the flocks of rare wine bottles that roost outside. These flavorful sips pair with an extensive assortment of gluten-free pizzas and pastas, and a helpful food-allergen chart assists diners in avoiding such common irritants as shellfish and peanuts.
One step inside The Epicurean Bistro & Wine Bar and visitors are transported to a French village complete with tiled awnings, lampposts, and yellow-brick walls that ascend into a sky-like ceiling. The authentic French atmosphere was created by founding partner Claire, a French-Canadian and consummate traveller, and French-born executive chef Dominique Brialy, whose training has taken him all over the world. Working together, their restaurant was named named Best French by Metroland in 2012, won the Award of Excellence in 2013 from Wine Spectator, and earned a mention in the inaugural edition of Best Chefs America. They pour attention into the eatery's details, from the rustic wall sconces to the sage-scented parsnip purée that accompanies the roasted venison. Claire's husband and business partner Sandy has curated a wine cellar filled with 2,200 bottles from every region of France and internationally sourced varietals that complement every meal. Guests may also order from a full bar that features an extensive craft and imported beer selection, as well as an array of whiskeys, single malts, and bourbons.
The naturalization paper that freed co-owner Bryah Gifford's grandfather, Paul Patterson Power, from Ireland during the Great Famine adorns the walls of Power's Irish Pub among Mr. Power's family photographs. Along with decorations, Bryah pays tribute to her heritage with the bar's combination of pub and Irish fare, including Guinness-battered onion rings, Guinness beef stew, and shepherd's pie served atop a book of Guinness World Records. Eighteen draft beers wash down each bite, while live musicians complement meals with Irish tunes Thursday–Saturday. The pub accommodates guests until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and on Wednesday dogs can accompany visitors during Power's puppy hours to lounge on the deck and scarf down treats.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
The treats at Control Tower Ice Cream are so tasty that they regularly cause pilots to land their planes near the shop. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Albany International Airport’s north runway is paved a few 100 yards from the creamery’s door. Regardless, from March to September, the staff serves nearly 20 specialty sundaes and more than 40 flavors of ice cream that woo adults and kids alike. More savory foods, such as hot dogs, burgers, and paninis, complement the desserts. After eating, guests can watch the planes land and take off or visit Control Tower’s go-kart track, miniature-golf course, or batting cages.