Even from outside, where the red-orange door and window frames pop against the dark-gray façade, it’s clear that Marotta's takes contemporary eating to a new level. Inside, patrons immediately notice that their traditional menus have been replaced with Apple iPads. And once minds are made up, attentive servers place orders through iPods Touch, feeding tickets immediately into the kitchen. Even credit and debit cards can be conveniently swiped right at the table. Though traditionalists can still pay at the register or place their orders with Old-World Italian robots, owners Chris and Dee Marotta hope the digital options broaden and improve their customers' overall experiences.
To ensure their 50-seat bar-risto is steeped in just as much traditional flavor as technological convenience, Chris and Dee hired Executive Chef Edward Bradt. Chef Bradt brings his culinary experience as the former head chef at The Van Dyck Lounge to classic offerings such as juicy filet mignon, veal, and seafood in a cornucopia of sauces, from a tart, sherry-infused marinara to a peppery madeira demi-glace. A full wine menu assures a complementary pairing with any of the 12-inch red or white pizzas, each slow baked in a wood-fired oven with pancetta, goat cheese, and fresh basil. Patrons can two-hand signature sausage burgers as they attempt to ask muffled questions of Marotta's tech guru, Joe Leverett, about the restaurant's other wireless wonders, including tabletop children's games and iPad-accessible valet service.
No matter how hard he tried, Kevin Brown couldn't shake the chef's hat. After years of working in restaurants and hotels throughout Connecticut and New York, he finally decided to leave the kitchen for good in exchange for a family-friendly job at GE. Once he retired, though, the siren song of the professional kitchen beckoned to him again, and he purchased a Cajun catering company. In no time, Kevin Brown was back in the kitchen at Café NOLA, which stands for New Orleans, Louisiana.
As both the chef and owner, Kevin devises a menu that spotlights the distinct blends of herbs and spices that characterize Cajun food. As a result, the kitchen churns out alligator bites, crawfish nachos, and crab cakes, as well as sandwiches with a Southern influence, such as the NOLA club and a grilled portobello sandwich. Honey-stung fried chicken served with cornbread makes stomachs grumble from across the room, and étouffée, a house specialty, sails out to guests accompanied by dirty rice. The beignets aren't the only sweet thing around the place—live entertainment occurs up to five evenings a week, running the gamut from tarot-card readings to zydeco music.
Located in the heart of Little Italy, Cornell's Restaurant serves authentic Italian dishes in a tradition started more than 60 years ago. Within the kitchen, chef Armondo captains a crew of cooks as they work cuts of veal, seafood, and steak into savory pastas and specialties. Plates join with glasses of fine Italian and California wine in the elegant dining halls, where chandeliers illuminate linen tablecloths and colorful framed artwork. Large round tables and chairs populate the private banquet room, making it an ideal place to host special events or build a leaning tower of tables and chairs.
For more than half of a century, the Petta family has been simmering a menu of homemade soups and sizzling fresh-cut steaks for satisfied Schenectadians. Snack on simple seafood starters, such as mussels Fra Diablo ($9.95) or Italian-style clams casino ($8.95) before expanding to more elaborate entrees. Petta's pasta, including eggplant parmigiana made with a secret family recipe ($14.95), is served with freshly made soup or salad to provide a well-rounded platter. Carnivorous diners can sink their teeth into options such as an 8-ounce broiled filet mignon with burgundy mushroom sauce ($24.95), or veal cutlet Michael with sweet roasted peppers and garlic butter ($17.95). Postfeast sips of cappuccinos and espresso drinks provide a smoothly soothing means of reinvigorating drowsy carousers.