in the Famiglia
Route 9W, Glenmont, 463-4331. Serving Tue-Fri 11-10, Sat 4-11,
Sun 4-9. AE, DC, MC, V.
Entrée Price Range: $10 (pasta with marinara) to $23 (12-oz.
pleasant and comfortable
Try as they might, the chain rest aurants still can’t duplicate
what makes a neighborhood Italian place work. Casa Mia is
a case in point, a restaurant that has operated for a dozen
years along what’s now a booming stretch of Route 9W, with
big-box stores nearby and the oppressive specter of a Chili’s
just across the street.
hasn’t really affected us,” a server said when I asked about
the new neighbor. “We’re still as busy as ever. I don’t know
who goes there.”
Consistency and reliability are key factors in the success
of any restaurant. You can as easily predict the style of
an Italian- restaurant menu as you can the Applebee’s-Chili’s-Ruby
Tuesday type of place; what’s unknown is how well the food
will live up to those expectations.
Casa Mia offers no disappointments. It’s not the world’s lightest
fare—my dish of stuffed mushrooms swam in so rich a buttery
sauce that the bread practically dived in after it—but it
sure is satisfying. Were I in the neighborhood more frequently,
I could see making regular visits.
Very classic dishes dominate the menu, but seafood is noted
as a specialty, so I cast aside a hankering for something
sautéed in a wine sauce and instead opted for a special of
stuffed salmon ($19)—seafood stuffed, not surprisingly.
Served over rice were two good-sized filets wrapped around
a predictable, bread-rich filling, all of it topped with a
creamy lobster sauce that threatened to herald a total excess
of flavors. Yet the components worked together, the white
rice particularly good for spreading the impact of that sauce.
The main dining room reveals its charm after a little study,
once you notice that the table colors—they’re draped in white
and dressed with green—are picked up by the window curtains,
the pinkish flowers on which echo the shading of the walls.
Dark wood paneling and a series of midroom columns add some
intimacy to the dining experience.
Upon the entering the restaurant, you’ll see a roly-poly chef
statue bearing a specials board; veer right and there’s a
large bar and some tables in a room beyond. More than likely,
you’ll be seated in the room I described, which is to the
Twelve years is a long lifetime for a restaurant these days,
but, as chef-owner Ray Cecunjanin explains, the family has
been in the business for a lot longer than that. And what
a family! They’ve spread a dynasty of similar restaurants
throughout the Northeast, beginning in Bridgeport, Conn.,
where Mario’s I still thrives on that city’s Main Street.
Locally, family members also run Mercato’s in Delmar, and
they have places further north in Lake Placid and Saranac
menu will be about 70 percent the same from place to place,”
Cecunjanin explains, “but each place operates independently.”
So the recipes, including sauces and baking, have stayed in
the family, passed from member to member as each new eatery
takes shape. The chains can only dream of such a legacy.
Consistency also requires a good buying strategy, which accounts
for the excellent cut of meat in the veal Napoli ($17), another
special, but one that shows up often. “I pay a little extra
for my veal,” Cecunjanin explains, “because it has to be tender.
You have to be able to cut it with a fork.”
It’s paired with sausage slices and mushrooms in a wine-rich
sauce, a simple dish that marries its component threesome
well. We have noted with some dismay a proliferation of too-chewy
veal medallions; this is how it should be. A side of pasta
rounds out the dish.
Order an entrée of pasta and you’ll pay from $10 for a marinara-topped
serving to $14 for a clam sauce or carbonara. Add the salad
and bread that come with the meals and you might well be set
Many of those dishes are meatless; they’re joined by a quartet
of entrées on another menu page specifically touted as vegetarian,
including a $13 vegetable lasagna.
That’s not the one we sampled, though. The same price gets
you the classic casserole layered with meat and cheese, about
as complete a meal as you can find in so compact a form. Even
though other baked pasta dishes like ricotta-stuffed cannelloni
and manicotti are available ($12 each), I’m firmly in the
It may be true, as my wife insists, that I’ll like anything
with cheese melted in or on top of it; still, the spedini
appetizer ($8) was a winner not only because it gives you
triangular wedges of breaded and fried cheese (oh, sin of
sins!) but also because it’s served with a compote of mushrooms,
prosciutto, capers, olives and roasted peppers that itself
could have been an appetizer.
There’s plenty more to choose from, what with a page and a
half of chicken, veal, beef and seafood items, but you’ve
dined in this kind of place before and know exactly what to
expect. What puts Casa Mia on a par with the best of them
is its food quality and friendly, efficient service—and the
sense that there’s a family that loves food looking out for
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Hudson Valley Council of Girl Scouts will
hold its 17th Annual Trefoil Awards Gala at The
Desmond in Colonie from 7 to midnight Friday,
April 8. The evening includes a champagne reception,
seafood presentation, hors d’oeuvres, an elaborate
stationed buffet and delicious desserts made with
Girl Scout cookies. Also taking place are the
Trefoil Awards presentation, silent and live auctions
and dancing with Jill Hughes and Friends. Tickets
are $100 per person. For more info, call Sharon
Smith at 489-8110, ext.105, or e-mail email@example.com.
All proceeds will benefit the programs and services
of the Girl Scouts, Hudson Valley Council. . .
. Chef Yono Purnomo is chairing a celebration
of Asian cuisine at 3 PM on Sunday, April 10,
at Franklin Plaza in Troy. The event benefits
the tsunami relief fund and SUNY Cobleskill’s
Culinary Arts program, and brings together four
prominent chefs to provide a five-course food-and-wine
pairing. Chef Thomas Gisler of Cooperstown and
Saratoga is Swiss-born but worked for years at
resorts in Japan. He will prepare the appetizer
and soup course. TV celebrity Joe Poon of Philadelphia
will prepare a Chinese dish, while Purnomo will
prepare a dish with an Indonesian influence. The
dessert will feature the culinary skills of chef
A. Jayapal (AJ) of the Edison Club in Rexford.
The menu will be paired with wine by sommelier
Dominick Purnomo. Faculty and students of SUNY
Cobleskill will assist in preparation and serving
of the dinner. All involved are donating their
time and talent. The five-course food and wine
pairing has several levels of sponsorship beginning
at $75 per person. Required reservations may be
made by calling 234-5425. . . . Remember to pass
your scraps to Metroland (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..