Saturday, March 11, 2017

Savona's on the Kingston Waterfront

Savona's Trattoria


Glenn: 4 Krabby Patties

I love going to special places. You can't really articulate exactly what it is about a special place - but you know it when you're there. I've been lucky to have traveled a good bit in my life - and I can rattle off a bunch of places that qualify for me. Portsmouth, NH, Catalina Island, Katahdin, the lighthouse at Jupiter, FL - these are just a few of the places in my life that qualify.

If you haven't yet been to the waterfront in Kingston, NY, you should make a point to visit. It's a special place. And it emerges kind of out of nowhere on your drive from New Paltz - which brings you up the thruway and down beat-up Broadway in Kingston. It emerges like an oasis in the dessert. 

Lined with shops and restaurants along a historical spit of the Hudson River, the waterfront in Kingston is a special place.

Megan had gone to Savona's for her friend Alex's birthday - and she wanted to go back - Savona's on the waterfront in Kingston was the call!

Being all 16 and stuff, Megan grabbed the keys to the car and I hopped in - she drove (very competently) all the way - and we parked and entered Savona's - which sits one block from the mighty Hudson River. 

The ambience was pretty much perfect. From the warm greeting of the hostess to the cozy table next to the window, this place was clearly a class-act.

My martini, with Tito's, was pretty much perfect. And the food was definitely better than average. 

I ordered veal francese with spinach on the side. The francese was definitely done right. I have to say, I cook chicken francese pretty regularly - and so, of course, I found myself comparing. And I wish I could say that this meal topped what I would have made at home - but hey, it was definitely good and the sauce was pretty much perfect.

When the waiter brought the spinach, I shifted into high-maintenance gear! The spinach was peppered with garlic clove slices. I can't blame Savona's - they are an Italian restaurant, after all - but I sort of have a garlic sensitivity - I really can't eat it! So I called back the waiter to reveal this slightly embarrassing personal detail - and I have to say, he handled this perfectly. He first said, "no problem" and then immediately took it back to the kitchen. Within five minutes, a freshly cooked batch was made and delivered - and it was fantastic. If you work in the restaurant industry, take note - this is how to deal with a send-back. Effectively and with a smile.

Overall, Megan and I had a great night at Savona's - a special night in one of those special places. Yes, I'd go back again!

Megan: 4.5 Krabby Patties

Well I think the restaurant is in a really cute location in Kingston near the river. And I really like the lights and the energy of the restaurant. I ordered lemonade - a classic beverage choice. But I ended up being EXTREMELY disappointed by the outcome. It was so sour, I couldn't even put it in my mouth. It burned!

So I just drank my water, swallowed my pride, and moved on ...

Next up was the salad, which I ordered Italian dressing on - which I almost never get. And I was pleasantly surprised by how well the dressing went with the salad. I, being a huge fan of salad, was very impressed.

Then FINALLY, after a long time of waiting, my chicken francese arrived! Chicken francese with pasta is my absolute favorite food. So if it is not done right, I will know! But THIS francese was one of the best I ever had. It was tender, juicy, not crispy at all, and the sauce was a perfect blend of butter, lemon, garlic, and white wine. Additionally, the type of pasta - instead of DISGUSTING spaghetti, which most restaurants would have chosen, was penne - my favorite. The sauce worked beautifully on the pasta as well as on the chicken. And I couldn't have been more pleased with the meal.  

 

 



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Villa Italia of Newburgh - Italian Fare at the Crossroads

Villa Italia

Megan: 3.5 Krabby Patties


We went to this restaurant once a few months ago and I remember it having incredible food – which I was looking forward to having again. My expectations might have been slightly too high from last time. I got the same meal that I got on my last visit – chicken francese. To drink, I had water – I had to ask for it with NO LEMON (just in case). Then the salad came. The vinaigrette was perfect! And the salad was like a normal salad – where I had to pull an amount of stuff off. But that’s nothing different than usual. Then the chicken came. The chicken was cooked very well – and the sauce was very good … but …

... it had a really odd taste like it was smoked in ham or bacon. I hate ham AND bacon. So that changed how good the chicken was. The pasta was DOUSED in lumpy tomato sauce – which isn’t THAT unusual for Italian restaurants – but that doesn’t make it any better. Overall, my meal was about average, and not as good as I’d had in the past. It still was a good, decent meal.

 

Glenn: 3 Krabby Patties


Situated at the crossroads of Routes 32 and 300, this little Italian bistro is actually easy to overlook. We’ve eaten there a few times in the past – and have always been happy with the experience. Tonight’s meal was somewhat marred by the fact that there was a huge party of about 20 people in the restaurant. They required much time and attention - and, according to Megan, they were really loud and annoying. When we walked in, a guy from that party sort of shoved himself between Megan and me saying, “I have to sneak past you.”


“That’s not sneaking at all!” said Megan. “It’s not sneaking if you say that you’re sneaking!”


… I have to admit, I sympathize with Megan’s point.


Anyway, we were seated quickly and were initially treated with prompt service. I ordered the same antipasto salad that I’d had last time. And Megan ordered chicken francese. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. The food was going to have to be REALLY GOOD to offset the wait.


By the time the food came, Megan and I both realized that the food here is actually pretty ho-hum. We concluded that we both missed the waitress we’d had on prior occasions, who strikingly reminded both of us of my mom – who could make any meal seem like a fabulous feast. Tonight’s waitress was fine, but she just didn’t have what was needed to offset the extended wait time.

In any case, date night with Megan is always a fun time!

Mangia!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rock and Rye Tavern - Fine Dining on the North Edge of New Paltz

Megan: 3 Krabby Patties

When we first arrived, the restaurant looked like the oldest building I'd ever seen! But when we went inside, it was a very CUTE old building. Sitting next to the fireplace was very good because of how freezing the winter in New Paltz is.

When I first looked at the menu, I was very concerned. There were NO items that I would typically order. But I saw a pork-and-veal bolognese which seemed like something that I might like. But, being the not-risky person that I am, I asked for the sauce on the side.

I also ordered a lemonade, which the waitress had said that they make fresh. I don't typically tend to like fresh-made lemonade because usually it has real lemon in it. But THIS lemonade was actually very good!

When the bolognese came, there was a beautiful-looking bowl of plain pasta, my favorite food ... and a very-nice-looking bowl of bolognese sauce. So I dipped a piece of pasta into the sauce and ate it. What I tasted next was not, to my mind, a bolognese sauce, but, rather, was simply and fully an onion. I HATE onions in every form. So I wasn't that happy with the bolognese.

But the plain pasta with cheese was fantastic!

Overall, the meal was very good, although all I ate really was plain pasta and lemonade and bread. The pasta was very good - but it's not that hard to make plain pasta. Maybe next time I'll save us some money and just ask for plain pasta in a bowl!

 Glenn: 4 Krabby Patties

Tucked away at the north end of New Paltz's historically significant Huguenot Street, the Rock and Rye Tavern sits in a cozy 1750s-era tavern adjacent to the golf course. History oozes out of the pores of this place.

The Rock and Rye is, how do we say ..., not cheap. It's one of those places that you usually only go to for job candidates and the like, if you know what I mean. But the three of us - my wallet, Megan, and I, decided to brave it - and I have to say that we were not disappointed.

The ambiance of this place is first-class. The dining room, adjacent to the old bar, feels like it's unchanged since the pre-revolutionary days when this place was bustling with Huguenot descendants. We sat next to the perfect fireplace in this cozy room - waited on attentively by a team of waitstaff.

The restaurant boasts that it has the best drink selection in the valley. With this in mind, I stretched a bit from my typical draft beer order, and went for a vodka martini - with Tito's, no less. The result was pretty perfect, I'll admit.

For dinner, I used my standard ordering algorithm when going to a high-end place - I ordered the burger! I have to say, even the burger was a bit costly - $17 - or $21 with fries. Was it worth it? I'd say it was close! The chef had "rare" down - and the seasonings, with a good hint of hot peppers, were on-target. This was a nice burger! Were the fries worth an additional $4? Well, let's just say that the burger was great!

Overall, the meal was thumbs-up - and the ambiance made for a perfect place to spend Saturday night with Megan!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gilded Otter - Fine Food and Drink Near the Walkill

Megan: 3.5 Krabby Patties

My mother, un-named here in this situation, has rejected our family dinners to be held at the Gilded Otter for many years now. Even though it is one of MY personal favorites! Since I haven't been there in so long, when I was little I would get stuff off the kids' menu, so I didn't really know what was on the "real" menu.

Unfortunately, the options on the "real" menu do not, apparently, match up with my taste in food. All I wanted was spaghetti and meatballs. But it said in the menu that the meatballs were "cooked in hambone" - and I know that I hate ham. So I KNEW that I would hate the sauce ...

I asked the waiter if I could "get any other sauce on the meatballs." To which he replied, "there's one with olives" ... and I hate olives even more than I hate ham! My dad asked the waiter to bring out a sample of the sauce that would be on the meatballs - and when the waiter brought it, it (the sauce) was absolutely terrible! I'm not sure what was wrong with it, but it's just not something that I'd want on my meatballs.

I only eat meatballs with sauce - and I only eat pasta without sauce. But I didn't even like the sauce for the meatballs. So my dad just said that HE would eat the plain meatballs instead.

I got a chocolate smoothie to drink - like I did when I was little. And it was even BETTER than I'd remembered. It was really good. Even my mom would have liked it!

The pasta was fantastic - I couldn't have imagined it being any better! The garlic bread was fine - I mean I don't really even like garlic bread - so considering the fact that I ate even some of it was a good thing.

I tried one of my dad's wings and thought it was one of the best in town.

Overall, the food was very good - EXCEPT the TERRIBLE SAUCE and the trouble with ordering meatballs.

Glenn: 4 Krabby Patties

When I first moved to New Paltz, I was delighted to find so many things. The Shawangunk Mountains? The Rail Trail? Ulster County Pool? Split Rock? Awesome stuff. And I have to say, "Brew Pub!?" stood out for me. Having the Gilded Otter right in town struck me as such a perk when I moved here in 2000, and to this day, I still see things this way. My town has an awesome brew pub - and this fact adds to my quality of life.

This evening, Megan and I had a long-overdue date night. Meg's in 10th grade now, and she's a force - date night with Megan is always a great time!

Megan has been going to the Otter her whole life - including when Kathy was pregnant with her some years back - so this is kind of a comfortable place for us.

DRINKS:

Beverage-wise, I decided to go with the Biergarten - a sample of 8 beers (although only seven were available). In terms of the beers, I find the Otter's selection hit or miss. I have to say, I am not a fan of any pumpkin beers - so "#6" in the selection was not the best. Today's selection was sort of lacking - with nothing like a porter or stout to be found. My fave? The three pines IPA - a simple, classic IPA - not bad at all. Next time, I'll go straight to a pint of the IPA.

FOOD:

As far as the food, I started with the vegetable-and-beef soup, and I have to say - it killed! With an awesome broth base, a great mixture of salt, pepper, and spices, and a healthy ratio of beef to veggies, I'm giving this one a big thumbs up!

For my entree, I went with a Glenn classic - wings! Meg wanted some of them - and she requested that we get "mild" this time - so I went for it. And I have to say, they hit the spot. Classic wings, not too drizzled with sauce, but with just enough to provide the hot, savory suite of flavors that we come to expect in our wings. A winner.

AMBIANCE:

As for the ambiance, the Otter has it! Situated in a beautiful, airy building with a great combination of the modern and the rustic - the physical setting sets the stage for the evening. Patrons run the gamut from locals like Meg and me to college students, professors, hikers, cyclists, rock climbers, musicians, city slickers, Long Islanders, and a random assortment of hippies. And friendly, familiar waitstaff (who often are among my list of SUNY New Paltz alumni), and the classic New Paltz air of "it's all good," help the Otter capture the vibe of this special part of the Hudson Valley as well as any place in town.

Have time to hit up only one restaurant on your visit to New Paltz? Interested in one that captures the ethos of this place that Megan and I am fortunate to call my home? You'll be hard-pressed to beat The Gilded Otter.

Friday, November 7, 2014

McGillicuddy’s in New Paltz on Friday Night - 11/7/2014


Meg: 4 Crabby Patties

It all started off with some pink lemonade - I was asked by the waiter if I cared whether it was pink or not. Surprisingly, I did not care! The next part of my meal was the wings. I decided to go up a step, and order Three Alarm instead of Volcanic. I am going to go back down a step - they were so hot, I cried! Although they were very tasty.

Then, I ordered a cheeseburger - PLAIN - with French Fries. The French Fries were very good - although they did NOT calm the heat from the wings. Also, they were not salty enough at all! I then proceeded to actually tasting my burger. I picked it up and the hot meaty juice fell on my lap and burned me. It actually hurt a lot! But after I recovered from my injury, I highly enjoyed the burger - and thought that the cheese was the best part. A little “overly grilled” for my liking - but definitely not the worst I’ve seen under that label.

All in all, it was very much a decent meal. Slightly better than average. My lemonade, French Fries, and cheese were DEFINITELY the best part - not to mention the buns on the hamburger. Despite being burned, eating some charcoal, and crying of wing sauce, I’d say it was quite a good meal - and I thoroughly enjoyed it!


Glenn: 4.75 Crabby Patties

Our family has been going to McGillicuddy’s on Friday nights as our go-to place in New Paltz since we moved here in 2000. Nothing has changed. It was awesome then - and it is awesome now!

After a long week of professoring, there’s nothing better than some wings, a burger, and a beer at this perfect pub. Meg insisted on three-alarm wings - and yeah, they were HOT!!! We actually left one on the plate without finishing it - this is not typical for Meg or me! But hey, Meg wanted to see what life was like beyond volcanic - so now we know!

Our waiter was cheerful and efficient - and my food was perfect Friday Night comfort food. The burgers at Cuddy’s are always just about perfect - and my burger tonight was no exception. It reminded me of a small version of the giant 2-pound burger that I finished at Cuddy’s this past summer in my effort to beat the Cuddy’s burger challenge - juicy, tasty, and delicious - except not quite as daunting! (oh, and by the way, while I did finish the burger in my attempt to beat the challenge in summer, I left about 4 fries on my plate, thereby failing to beat the challenge - but hey … I tried!).

In any case, while the wings were a tad hot, the food was pretty near perfect overall. And the ambience - classic pub in our classic upstate town - was even better. And the company, my favorite restaurant-reviewing companion, was the best!

I expect to be at Cuddy’s for many more Friday night meals in the years to come!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ruth and Wimpy’s – 10/11/2014 - a taste of Downeast!



Meg: 3.5 Krabby Patties

I did only send back one item … my chocolate milk. It might have been considered “regular milk” for it was paler than I am! The waitress was very nice – and got me completely new “bottled” chocolate milk. AKA – the real deal! And she was not at all offended that her chocolate milk was really just milk.

As for the appetizers, I must admit that it was some of the best garlic bread that I ever had! And it wasn’t burnt or crunchy – like some garlic breads are. It was soft, and slightly underdone. The Buffalo chicken dip was fine. “Decent” at best. Although it did taste good, and did have what some would call a “kick,” it was not legitimately spicy – or hot at all! Buffalo chicken dip is supposed to be an item that makes you run into the kitchen for more water or milk. But THIS Buffalo chicken dip was only slightly above average on the hotness scale – about where “mild” wings are.

When my meal actually came, I was surprised at the size of my cheese steak. It was nowhere NEAR the size of the ones you get in Philly. Everyone else at the table gasped at how BIG it was – but I remember my visit to Philadelphia – and this one was simply not as big. It was really an exceptional cheesesteak, though. And everything from the cheese to the bread was better than average. The French Fries were also pretty good. But they tasted a little bit TOO MUCH like “potato” because of how thick they were. French Fries are not supposed to taste like potatoes – they are supposed to taste fried. The French Fries were really good, though – especially as steak fries.

The wait staff was very quick and helpful. And the restaurant itself was very unique and distinctive – with the huge lobster outside, which made this restaurant have a very rustic feel that most would enjoy.

There were signs all over the ceiling with hypocritical messages that were not funny, in my opinion – but I just wanted to take the opportunity to correct them. An example was a sign that said this: “No pets allowed” - with a sign just under that said “please keep your pets on a leash.” I didn’t like how this was supposed to be a joke. It was obviously a mistake and I just wanted to cover one up. And I couldn’t believe that people were taking it as a joke.

Besides that, the restaurant had a great feel – and pretty good food!

 *********************************************************

Glenn: 4 Krabby Patties

Well I have to say, I love this place! The ambience, the location, and the clear “we are really in Downeast Maine” thing going on are just awesome. And the giant lobster out front – apparently named Wilbur – really speaks to me! We went there for my mother-in-law’s birthday with a party of 8. The kids and I had snuck in the restaurant earlier in the day to deliver a great chocolate cake – to be delivered as a surprise!

Well I have to say, from the appetizers to the meals – and great candle-lit cake, this evening was a win! Everyone enjoyed the classic appetizers such as the Buffalo chicken dip and the thin-sliced and crispy onion rings. Yum! The wait staff was prompt and helpful and the ambience, characterized by hundreds of license plates from all over the place - covering the walls – was perfect.
For the first time ever, I ordered stuffed baked lobster. I was in Maine – so I felt that lobster was necessary – but I wanted something a little bit easy to eat. This was a nice compromise! And the lobster was perfectly done. Yum!

Others at the table enjoyed items such as a great Autumn-themed sandwich and a huge dish of chicken parm – that was very filling (for my son), but looked barely touched!

If you want a fun and easy restaurant experience – with solid food and decent drinks – in Downeast Maine – then Ruth and Wimpy’s is for you!

(and big thanks to my awesome father-in-law, Bob, for footing the bill – and to my awesome mother-in-law, Gill, for providing the cause for celebration!).