Eating great food and writing good reviews about really nice restaurants where you have absolutely no complaints is so sickly sweet I'm still reeling from this sugar high of good will and happiness and I'm now SO ready to hug everyone and genuinely love them too.
|Outdoor dining in better weather - parking lot on the right|
Yes, this is really Zena. Now back off.
OK where was I. Oh, right - Il Faro, located just a couple of miles from downtown Albany in Menands, is small and family run, with experienced NYC Chef and Co-owner Christian LoFaro working side by side with General Manager and Co-owner Jennifer Lamoreaux, who is running the house. The space is open, dark, romantic and softly lit, a contrast to the artless exterior. Coming inside is like being enveloped in warmth - a perfect spot on a cold October night.
The menu is traditional, appealing to most of what the locals find good about Italian food - better yet, it's in the neighborhood. But be prepared to enjoy your dinner just a bit more than you expect - no bottled dressings and cheap wine and rollatini still cold in the middle. The food is stepped up a notch - or I'd say two. Think veal and pasta and calamari and lasagna, but with fresh pasta and really good bread and thoughtful ingredients and careful preparation, there to embrace your palate and your soul. The house white, Stella Pinot Grigio is only $5 at happy hour, even in the dining room. The hugs get longer with glass number 2.
Red and I started with a House Salad that could have fed three ($8) - soft greens, red onion, tomatoes and olives tossed with a light vinaigrette - I could do without the canned black olives but it was simple and tasty. This, along with fresh warm rolls that were salty and sweet and yeasty with just a bit of chew was a lovely beginning.
|Fresh, warm yeasty rolls|
Red almost polished off a generous serving of Penne Vodka ($14) - a dish I can almost always hate - but this one was smooth and rich and light on the tomato. Others can be harsh, or underseasoned - this offering was like the perfect cuddle - love in every bite.
Yes, I had the Chicken Parm ($17) (now you KNOW it's really me!). A bit heavy on the sauce, but the taste of the breading came through with its parmy saltiness, lovely crisp edges, just the right amount of cheese on top - excellent. The red sauce was clingy but not thick, the tomato was bright but mellowed with cooking. The side of house-made capellini was amazing (with just a bit of water on the plate). I almost destroyed it as I clasped it to my bosom, slurping up every bite - delicious.
A lovely dining area, Sinatra on low, attentive service, lots of promise - it wasn't busy on a Wednesday. Zena says Get out to Menands, eat more Italian, and getta hug!
Oh, and congrats on one year in business - wishing you many, many more.
Love, Zena, Goddess of Fire
P.S. Yes, I have my soft side. Mostly it's inside but it's there, trust me.