Anna Arace pays meticulous attention to detail. As the owner of Trattoria Il Vesuvio, she transformed a former art studio housed inside a red barn-style building into an airy restaurant with exposed beams and cathedral ceilings. Whether she's in the kitchen mixing fresh seafood with tomato sauce, pinot grigio, and garlic to create the Frutti di Mare—one of her trademark Campania dishes—or travelling to New York for fresh red peppers to jar through the winter, her attention to detail works to ensure that every dish served is fresh and authentic. Along with Campania-influenced dishes, Arace also creates northern Italian classics such as the Lasagna di Verdura to pair with a selection of Italian wines. Popular appetizers include the lightly breaded fried calamari and the melenzane alla griglia, grilled eggplant that's been marinated for up to three days and forced to reflect on its mistakes.
A cobblestone path leads up to the front door of this canary-yellow Dutch Colonial inn, which is tucked amid the Berkshire Hills. Inside, the rooms reflect the building's turn-of-the-century roots with period furnishings that include four-poster beds, button-back chairs, and lace curtains. Some rooms have fireplaces to help keep you warm on chilly nights. A local family runs the inn, and it's easy to see personal touches throughout. The onsite restaurant, for instance, serves a homestyle menu that focuses on farm-to-table fare.
Diners can fill up on herb-stuffed trout and old-fashioned meat loaf with wild mushroom gravy to the sounds of live jazz and piano music.
The inn is conveniently close to several attractions in the Berkshires. It's a short drive from the Norman Rockwell Museum, family-owned wineries, and several area ski sites that are popular in the winter or after summer's first snowfall.
The stately gold letters distinguishing Sullivan Station Restaurant loom above a bold red door flanked by mint-and-cream paneling, standing as a handsome vestige of the restaurant's former life as the Lee Depot. Inside the 65-seat dining room, prime-cut pork chops, pastas, and sandwiches adorn striped tabletops amid rustic wood-paneled walls and vintage photographs. Outside, a striped awning shades a quaint back deck, where meals can be savored in the sunshine during the summer months. Lunchtime diners can witness the Berkshire Scenic Railway make its regular stops at the depot and even hop aboard for a picturesque postmeal jaunt or to jump-start a career as a lovable railroad vagabond.
When Nord Brue and Mike Dressell began perfecting their bagel recipe with the help of a professional NYC bagel maker in 1983, the bagel was still an anomaly in the food world—it was geographically and culturally still isolated in New York City. Fueled by a desire to change that, the duo opened up the first Bruegger's deli with the hope of eventually introducing the rest of the country to the bagel. Brue and Dressell have since realized their dream, sharing their distinctive recipes and culinary traditions at 300 locations spread across 26 states. To this day, they oven-bake their centerless bread rolls every morning and afternoon, populating counter displays that also brim with daily made breads, Vermont cream cheese, and custom-roasted coffee.
Executive Chef Phillip Smith and his network of chefs still use the original five-ingredient recipe for their dough, which they shape into more than 20 bagel varieties. Because they draw from each region's local recipes and from dialogue and Pictionary games with local consumers, certain menu items may vary from store to store across the country. The bagels are often served with Bruegger's eclectic cream cheeses such as bacon scallion or pumpkin, or as sandwiches with meats, cheeses, and veggies often sourced from local or organic produce. Coffe gets just as much attention, with house blends of 100% arabica coffee.
Legends Express Car Wash bathes begrimed buggies in a step-ladder of comprehensive car wash services. Starting with the most basic service, each subsequent ride rinse comes with everything offered by the service directly below it, plus more. Start off with a spray wax, rust preventer, and ultimate dry ($5), ensuring your fine fendered friend leaves looking sleek and swimsuit ready. Or, trade up to the protect and shine wash, which comes accompanied by Blue Coral protectant and triple-foam polish to protect vehicles from road salt and all weather elements ($8). Boasting Black Magic tire dressing to varnish the tires, the wheel deal wash ($10) also comes with a rim shine and wheel brightener to ensure a vibrant vehicular visage from any angle. Last but not least, the ultimate wash ($12) offers an extensive and exhaustive exterior expunging, starting with everything included in the wheel deal wash, and then adding a water-busting Rain-X glass treatment, increasing wet-weather visibility by repelling rain, sleet, snow, and all other matter of cloud tears from perambulator portholes.
As locks click and fluorescents dim at most conventional restaurants, the night owls at Café 217 hurl howls at the moon: their night's just getting started. Open nonstop from Friday at 5 p.m. to Sunday at 3 p.m. and with late hours throughout the rest of the week, Café 217 centers itself as Albany's nocturnal hideout for party prowlers, third-shifters, and Nosferatu's roommates. Prepared fresh to order, the breakfast menu draws inspiration from the French, though Italian influences pervade the lunch menu, which includes a grilled portobello-mushroom sandwich with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and a balsamic reduction. Available at all hours, the dinner menu aims for upscale, as does the interior, where metal trellises with floral designs stud the walls and bright-yellow tablecloths swathe tables. Patrons can dab their faces with bright-purple napkins, which ably conceal blots of wine or Rorschach tests of grape jelly.