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Dec 24, 2007 09:43 AM

Cella Bistro - Review

We went to Cella Bistro in Schenectady, NY on Friday night. A discovery from this Board. Our experience follows.

We got one of the last parking spots on the side street by Cella Bistro. Not sure where customers park because the space in front and on the side street appears limited. The restaurant is warm and inviting. There is a bar area/dining room and a larger dining room with a fireplace in the corner that adjoins the two dining areas. We were late for our 8:00 PM reservation. We had called and left a voicemail, which they hadn't picked up. The host seated us promptly at one of the corner tables in the long narrow dining room. The dining room we were in was not crowded, there was one large group and a table of four.

Our server brought us water right away and it was surprising not to be offered the option of bottled water, which we usually order. We decided to enjoy "NY's Finest" and SO started to review the wine list. He mentioned that the wine list was organized differently, not the traditional way by country or type. We ordered a bottle of Barbera d'Alba Sovrana 2004.

We were a little surprised not to receive bread or something to nibble on while we reviewed the wine list and menu.


Grilled flatbread pizzette of the day ($7) - baby arugula and mushroom, this was delicious. Server brought this app out first when we requested that all 3 small plates not be served immediately.

Both seafood apps arrived next.

Pan seared scallops crispy truffled mushrooms ($12) - the scallops were quite peppery. I would have preferred less pepper or a description that indicated they were "peppery." SO did not share my opinion. Scallops were cooked perfectly.

Spicy garlic shrimp cazuela, 6 shrimp, garlic, chili, lemon and olive oil in a traditional terra cotta dish ($12) - shrimp was cooked perfectly, garlicky and delicious.

Minor service note - It would have been nice to receive clean plates. We used the same small plates for all 3 apps. We didn't bother to request them from our server. Not sure if this is an indicator that server to diner ratio or host/manager oversight could become an issue when restaurant is crowded and busy. We did not see any bus staff.


We ordered the duck entree because I had read a favorable post on this Board (thanks meg944). Sliced pan seared duck breast pomegranate wine sauce, goat cheese mashed potatoes and haricots verts ($25) - duck was cooked medium rare. I've had a lot of duck dishes this year and Cella Bistro's was quite good. My expectations for duck tend to be on the high side. The best duck I had this year was at The Modern - Dining Room (it was like butter) so that is the gold standard. The Harrison and Cornelia Street (both in NYC) also have very good duck dishes. The pomegranate sauce and mashed potatoes with bits of goat cheese made this dish so enjoyable.


We were pretty full at this point so we reviewed the dessert menu.
None of the desserts really appealed to us. So we passed on dessert. We had espresso.
We received complimentary homemade limoncello which was delicious and a perfect finish to a very satisfying meal.

We will definitely go back.


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  1. My sister went recently and said everything was oversalted. We haven't been in awhile.

    1 Reply
    1. We went to Cella Bistro last weekend and had a very good experience. We had:

      *Fried oyster app
      *Pan seared scallops w/mushrooms app
      *Spinach and arugula, toasted cashews, dried cranberries, crispy shallots, sweet red onion vinaigrette
      *Seafood entree (special? apologies, I forgot)

      All were very good.

      PS Cella Bistro has added a $5 sharing charge which our server informed us about.

      3 Replies
      1. re: financialdistrictresident

        I am curious about the charge – if you each got an app and then one person got a salad and one a traditional entrée, it seems strange to charge you for sharing w/ one another. Of course, if you requested that the dishes be divided and plated for two, that is different.

        Jack and I often “swap” plates halfway through, so we can try more things and because he can eat much more than me. I wouldn’t expect to be charged in that scenario, as there is no additional work for the staff.

        1. re: meg944

          meg944, I've missed your posts. As always, thanks for your thoughts.

          We didn't get charged the $5. I was surprised because they made a point of mentioning it. It could be because of the economy, maybe when people order out they are ordering less? In addition to what we ordered in the post above, we also ordered a bottle of wine (one of their more expensive selections). Going forward, we will just order as usual and be careful not to mention how we share all our food, and like you, do our usual plate swap . . .

          1. re: financialdistrictresident

            Thanks, FDR! I was sick for awhile and Jack has been teaching a class in the evenings, so we haven’t had the energy to try any new places of late. We have been back to Creo and NWBB and had good experiences (and had a mediocre experience at Aperitivo, sadly,) but I really want to go to Dale Miller and am also intrigued by the remake of the Glen Sanders’ restaurant, Angelo’s Tavolo. I’ve never had pasta w/ sea urchin before.

            BTW, I expect you are right – they probably want to avoid people coming in, having two glasses of wine (or maybe two glasses of water!) splitting an entrée and not ordering anything else. I can completely understand under those sorts of circumstances. We often swap plates but it’s not about saving money or even my rather wee appetite – we both just like to have a chance to try more things. Thus I think we’ll never tire of the small plates phenomenon.