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Take Me To The River

July 7, 2011

When I got the invitation to attend a media event at Angelo’s Tavolo, I was amused to think that someone considers me to be a member of the media. But I was also interested in checking out their new casual summer setup for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

I thought since I’m now a member of the media, this might be a good chance to mingle with my peers and colleagues.

As it turned out Steve Barnes had dropped in the night before, and neither Ruth nor Cheryl of the Times Union were in attendance. I had thought perhaps someone from Metroland, The Gazette or The Record might be there, but no. Instead, last night I rubbed elbows with some fascinating people involved in local radio and television. I also got to spend a few minutes with Matt Mazone and chef Frank Tardio.

It was very illuminating.

Matt works with his father Angelo (whom I met just briefly) across their empire of high-end restaurants throughout the region. I have been both critical and complementary of this family-owned restaurant group. And I was glad to have a chance to commend Matt in person for the Mazone’s adoption of a sustainable seafood program.

Given the family’s dominant position in the market, they have the potential to be tastemakers. But ultimately they see themselves in the customer service business, and strive to give their customers what they want.

I understand this, but can’t help being let down by it at the same time.

Anyhow, this summer menu and their “Tuscan Table” goes far to address some of my other concerns about restaurants in the area. Namely, that they are:
1) Too expensive for the food being served.
2) Serving way too much food on a plate.

For $12 they were serving essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet of:

–       Duck Panzanella
–       A seafood salad of squid and tuna
–       A selection of cured meats with cheese and olives
–       Creamy chicken salad with walnuts, cranberries and grapes
–       A cold rigatoni primavera
–       A hot rigatoni in a creamy tomato sauce with ricotta
–       Sliced yellow tomatoes with fresh mozzarella
–       Roasted sweet corn salad
–       Wakame seaweed salad (oddly)
–       Cubed watermelon with lime

I could think of a lot worse ways to blow $12 on dinner than enjoying these tasty, if not necessarily remarkable, dishes on the banks of the Mohawk River with a great view of the water. If the weather is nice, you can even eat outside. There is a fire pit, and perhaps when it hasn’t been raining they actually light it.

What got me really excited, though, was one of the dishes on their abbreviated menu that is served in addition to the “Tuscan Table.”

The menu listed vitello tonnato, which is a classic combination of cold sliced veal in a tuna sauce. It’s a funky and awesome dish that is assertively flavored with capers and anchovies. And it is something I did not expect to see on the menu of a restaurant in Scotia. Plus, it’s only $10. Now, I didn’t actually get a chance to try it, but I’m looking forward to getting back there for this plate.

They also were serving the classic Mazone dish of seven-hour cherry pepper pork. But instead of the 677 Prime version that comes with pepperjack cheese (an ingredient that has no business on any high end menu), this more refined version that is topped with fontina. And you can get a plate of it for only $8.

Although honestly I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be able to get back out there for dinner on a school night. But if I worked at GE or Price Chopper, this would totally be an after work hangout for drinks and vittles on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Note: For the sake of full disclosure, besides enjoying the “Tuscan Table” free of charge, I was also given a complimentary Americano, which seemed a bit light on the sweet vermouth. Had I not been invited to this event, it’s unlikely I would have written about Tavolo. But I’m glad I was, because otherwise I wouldn’t have learned about the vitello tonnato.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2011 11:35 am

    I imagine that other writers weren’t there because they want to preserve their anonymity for when they do reviews.

    • July 7, 2011 1:34 pm

      I’m not sure Cheryl has any hope of being anonymous in the local restaurant world, and everyone knows what Steve looks like.

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