Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mezza Notte in Guilderland

Update: We went back in mid-July. See our more recent post on Mezza Notte.

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There's a new restaurant in town. Mezza Notte is a upscale restaurant with at least a hint of Italian, on Route 20 just east of Route 155. The building formerly housed Phoebe's Florist. Now where am I supposed to get flowers for my wife (as if I ever do that - sorry honey)?

We had dinner there last night with another couple. The first thing I noticed was the valet parking. Valet parking? In Guilderland? Wow! We did not avail ourselves of the valet, as I find myself perfectly capable of parking my own car. The parking lot is fairly small but I don't see why you couldn't park on the street (Cornell Ave, not Western). I asked the valet and he said that people start using it when the lot fills up. And indeed when we left a few people were waiting for their cars.

Anyway, we went inside and I have to say the place is gorgeous. They really did a nice job in the interior. Our friends weren't there yet so we ordered drinks. Then our friends arrived and I bought them a round. Four drinks, including my wife's Coke, added up to just over $30. Ouch! Yes, this is foreshadowing, though not as subtle as usual.

While the interior was nice, I didn't like our table. We had a booth, and it was like a flat U. Two people sit with their backs against the wall (maybe it was a window), and the other two sit at the ends of a fairly long table. There's really room for three along that wall. This left me uncomfortably far from my buddy on the far end. Also, they brought out bread and a plate with olive oil, vinegar, and tapenade. They put the plate in the middle. I asked for an extra plate since I couldn't reach. With that said, the bread and tapenade were pretty good. I thought of asking for a different table, but let it go. During dinner, a guy sitting in a regular table got bumped in the head as one of the staff was moving a table, so I guess it was a good decision. :-)

My favorite dish of the night was the appetizer. I forget the name, but I'd call it a carpaccio - very rare or perhaps raw beef in very thin slices. They did a really nice job with this. The meat had great texture and flavor, and they had nice touches on the plate as well, with a small (appropriately) amount of sauce and some kind of citrus wedge. My wife had a salad of mixed greens. I didn't ask but the salad disappeared fast. She did leave me her tiny tomatoes, which were good. Our friends had melanzane frite (fried eggplant). They said it was good, but not what they expected. I think they had a salad too but don't remember what kind.

I had a chicken entree. It was stuffed, I think with prosciutto, some kind of cheese, and some kind of green. The dish came with mashed potatoes. It was okay, but a bit on the bland side. My wife had the rack of lamb, and devoured it, so I think she liked it. Friend 1 had a scallop special, over pasta. He said it was good, but didn't eat that much of it. I don't remember what Friend 2 had, but whatever it was disappeared.

We also had dessert. Wife and I had the panna cotta. It's something like a custard, but the flavor didn't do it for us. Interesting, but not what I wanted. Friend 1 had bread pudding, which apparently was okay. Friend 2 had a cheesecake. I got a taste of it and it was not my kind of cheesecake. Not bad, but just not the style of cheesecake and not really all that special.

Then we got the bill. Including tip and the drinks from the bar (we had no other alcohol), the total was over $250. And therein lies the problem with Mezza Notte. This is Guilderland, not Manhattan. I'm probably going to give the place another try sometime (but not soon), because I like to try different things. But there are so many good options that cost much, much less. Aromi d'Italia is about a quarter-mile away, I like the food better (the menu variety has a similar gourmet touch to it), and it's a lot less expensive.

On the bright side for the restaurant, there was a good crowd. Hopefully most had a better experience than I did because I'd like to see the place stick around so I can give it another try in 6 months or so.

4 comments:

Albany Jane said...

Very interesting review. From what I've been reading it seems there are mixed reviews from Mezza Notte, and wow are they pricey. I think I'll wait to see how you like them again before I venture out there.

Jennifer L. said...

I couldn't disagree more with this review. I had dinner there with my fiancee on the same evening. We also had a round of drinks at the bar first, and compared to other restaurants in the capital district, I thought thier wine list selection was outstanding and very reasonably priced. We shared the calamari, which is one of the best I've ever had. I had the scallop special and he had the filet, cooked med-rare. I loved the pasta and thought it was very flavorful and the scallops were cooked perfectly. He also enjoyed his filet very much. Our total bill, including tip was 160.00 which for a fine-dining establishment such as this is not at all unreasonable. I could underdstand if the bill for the 4 of you was over 300, but for this level of cooking and service, you have to expect to spend a little more than say for example, TGI Fridays. I think MezzaNote is a wonderful restaurant and hope it does very well in the future. I also cannot wait to return.

Albany Lawyer said...

Responding to Jennifer, I'm glad she had a good experience, and I am rooting for Mezza Notte as I'd like to see our area develop more places like this (non-routine cuisine). ... Hmm ... Routine Cuisine ... that's gotta be brandable. :-)

Anyway, I disagree with Jennifer about relative pricing. There are only a handful of restaurants around here in this price range, including 677 Prime, and maybe Cabernet Cafe. I'd review all of them, but I try to limit my 3-figure dining experiences.

I find the food at D'Raymonds, Italian Community Center, and Aromi to be better and less expensive. But I will try Mezza Notte again to give it another shot.

Oh, and I didn't think the service was any better than other places. The staff were good, but if you spend $30 per person in this area you will get excellent service.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer is a moron. $160 for a couple to go eat is ridiculous for Guilderland. 677 Prime is about that price and the food blows this place away. You can get a far better meal in Manhattan for considerably less. Perhaps Jennifer and her fiance were bombed when they left and that's why the meal was so expensive.