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The Beacon On The Hill

September 21, 2016

There is always news. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s awful. Today is the International Day of Peace. More awful things will happen today. It’s a big world. It needs healing. And as far as we’ve come, we still have a long way to go.

You may notice that I’m not in the most optimistic mood today.

I don’t envy the PR professionals who need to help promote their clients’ messages on weeks like this. But I do love a good PR person. Years ago I met Duncan Crary. He’s one of Troy’s biggest advocates and a tireless promoter of the city. He sent me a reminder about The Hill at Muza’s Vineyard Grape Stomp tomorrow. I’ll just put the link to that event here, in part because it sounds like a good time. But there’s another reason too, and it has to do with the news.

The Times Union reported that Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine have agreed to buy Minissale’s and will be bringing Nick Ruscitto over to run the kitchen. This will leave Peck’s Arcade in the able hands of Matt Sciubba. But there was a section of the story that ties both of these events together:

Christopher and LaVine say they were at first trepidatious about opening a business away from their downtown cluster but were encouraged by the success of The Hill at Muza, a beer garden about a block from the former Minissale’s.

“What they’re doing is really exciting,” says LaVine. “It’s got a great vibe.”

“I don’t think we’d do this type of project with the enthusiasm and optimism we have without seeing what they’ve accomplished on the hill,” Christopher says. “They’re really creating a destination up there.”

Of course, there is one of my other favorite places on that same hill, The Cookie Factory. That’s where I find my favorite chocolate frosted donuts in the region, but the Boston cream are also pretty darn special too. It’s the intense cocoa flavor from the frosting that helps make these super special.

Now the pessimist in me worries that Christopher and LaVine are spreading themselves too thin. That same voice laments the fact that chef Nick will be cooking his take on homestyle Italian-American dishes. I only share these thoughts because if I’m having them, surely others are as well. And I’ve always been of the mind that it’s better to get this stuff out in the open.

However, the optimist in me is hopeful that this move might help to reinvigorate another section of Troy, a city which needs development in more neighborhoods than just downtown. And if anyone can make Italian-American classics exciting it would be chef Nick. Chefs are always better when they are doing something they love. And if Nick is going to love this new gig, then this will surely raise the bar for countless local restaurants competing in the same space.

So we’re just going to have to wait and see. In the meantime, if you haven’t been to The Hill yet, it sounds like tomorrow night might be a fun time to drown your sorrows and leave your cares behind.

Unfortunately, I have a conflict. So I’ll have to hear about it from those who can attend. But I’ll be there in spirit.

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