The Villa Tuscan Grille's owners Peter and Christina Guidarelli believe in a simple, unhurried approach to restaurant service—before dinner, they encourage guests to enjoy conversation over some house-baked bread and dipping oil. Executive chef Danny and the kitchen staff apply the same unhurried approach to cuisine: they slow-cook their tomato sauces for up to 18 hours and travel back in time to plant the seeds for those tomatoes. In addition to the sauce, Chef Danny prepares Italian classics such as housemade cavatelli and fettuccini topped with chicken or shrimp, hand-cut Black Angus steaks, and fresh-dough pizzas topped with ingredients such as meatballs, broccoli, and ricotta.
There’s a simple, casual atmosphere here; booths are framed by curtains and hanging lamps. In warm weather, feel free to dine on an outdoor patio. The Villa Tuscan Grille also commits to the community: the kitchen uses ravioli and stuffed shells from Pede Bros., and the dining space hosts weekly events such as live music from area bands.
Located on the glistening shores of the Mohawk River, just over the bridge to Schenectady, The Waters Edge Lighthouse Restaurant allows patrons to partake in its waterfront ambiance year-round. Amidst the warmth, charm, and relaxing fire-side dining options, the restaurant has become a favorite with Capital District patrons for nearly a decade, earning praise from publications such as Metroland and Capital Regional Living Magazine for having some of the best dining around.
Apart from the view, what has wooed customers are tempting options such as fresh seafood and steaks, in addition to a variety of daily food and drink specials to please the most discerning pallets. These dishes feel right at home in the restaurant's elegant dining room or, on warmer days, on the outdoor patio that overlooks the river and the boats moored to the docks.
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.
Amid the hustle and bustle of Ottimo Pizza's kitchen, a brick oven blazes with baking pizzas, footlong calzones, and Italian breads. Chefs adorn circular and square crusts in whole-milk mozzarella; layer subs with housemade meatballs, premium steak, or crispy chicken breast; and slather wings in savory and sweet sauces. In the casual dining room, decor pieces nod to the restaurant's heritage, from a mural of an Italian countryside to a portrait of the Roman emperor Tiberius made from the same macaroni he used to toss at offending plebes.
The chefs at Bangkok Bistro not only prepare dishes, such as pad thai and a rainbow of curries, they also plate up roll after roll of inventive sushi creations. The Schenectady roll marries crab, spicy tuna, and baked salmon with fried onion, eel sauce, and spicy mayo, whereas the Facebook roll showcases crab, cream cheese, asparagus, and roe. Bento boxes come neatly packed with appetizers, teriyakis, and salads and platters of fried rice come spiked with ingredients such as pineapple or basil leaves.
The newly renovated Randy Loren's Dolce Vita Ristorante infuses classic Italian dishes with a love of music that permeates the classic atmosphere. As diners enjoy plates of lightly breaded veal and parmesan-encrusted tilapia, on Fridays and Saturdays performers take to the dining room’s elevated stage to coax melodies from a white grand piano sitting under a disco ball and colorful lights. In addition, trimming decorated like piano keys accentuates the wooden bar, whose array of liquor and wine bottles would produce its own grand symphony if it were ever hit with a bunch of tiny pebbles.