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.
An ESPN-acclaimed burger shack sitting beside the historic Saratoga Race Course, the Trackside Grill attracts appetites with bodacious burgers and attracts attention spans with views directly onto the celebrated horse-racing oval. Grab a pair of prepared-to-order beef-and-bun creations, each with a side of fries, then secure a seat at an umbrella-covered outdoor table to watch as equine competitors stride full speed from start to finish, striving for the win and a sizable purse—hopefully one that matches the flower garland. During the track’s off-season, which runs until late July, the Trackside Grill remains open to eaters looking for a peaceful, scenic setting to enjoy a meal.
Giavano’s sates sauce-craving tongues and cheesy appetites with a classic menu of gourmet Italian fare in a casual setting. Meaty pizzas, including the swiss and bacon ($7.95–$22.95), can be shared with a clan of finger-food fanatics or cardboard cutouts of giant mutant turtles, and the veggie pizza ($8.95–$26.95) satisfies the garden yearnings of hungry herbivores. Those who prefer their fare enclosed can opt for a calzone ($5.95) or an appetizer of stringy mozzarella sticks ($4.45–$5.95). Sink teeth into the dangerously delicious pepperoni sub ($4.95–$6.95), which longs to be launched into the depths of stomach oceans, or sit down for a classy feast with an array of Italian dinners, including the chicken and broccoli alfredo ($8.95). Giavano's also satisfies picky progeny and the young at stomach with an accomodating kids' menu.
Jitters cafe's tasty breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings are made from scratch using as many natural and organic ingredients as possible. Start your morning with a gourmet coffee creation or a smoothie paired with a toasty Belgian waffle. Midday munchers can enjoy a variety of salads, sandwiches, and freshly prepared soups, taking breaks between bites to play checkers, scrabble, or to swallow. Jitters hosts an open mic from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and features acoustic entertainment during the same evening hours on weekends.
Kim Klopstock, the proprietor of Fifty South, creates toothsome and affordable edibles with as many local, organic, and free-trade ingredients as the chefs can gather. The delectable menu runs the gamut of morning, midday, and evening meals and caters to guests of every dietary persuasion and level of wizardry. Diners seeking an inventive plate can indulge in the maple-glazed wild Tasmanian salmon ($15) or the grilled aged Angus filet mignon ($16). Salads such as the gorgonzola- and balsamic-adorned blackened steak salad ($13) or the house maple-vinaigrette-drizzled Francine’s poached-pear salad ($9) wed verdant greens with luscious meats or fruits in a delectable ceremony sans ill-fitting cummerbunds and awkward toasts.
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.