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Jul 30, 2009 06:39 PM

Need rec for restaurant this Saturday in Saratoga Springs

I'll be in Saratoga this Saturday and am wondering where to dine. There will be three of us. I understand that Chez Sophie is closing soon. But I've eaten here numerous times (before and after the move), and looking for something different. I've also really enjoyed Hattie's and Mrs. London's for pastries. I've been to a few other places but names aren't really coming to me now. I did remember, though, that Wheatfields was HORRIBLE. Doing a search on these boards, I have a tentative list:

Beekman Street Bistro
Max London
The Wine Bar

Price and cuisine not an issue. I would prefer to find something that I can't really find in my hometown of NYC -- eg. Hattie's as NYC isn't too great for Louisiana cuisine, or something really unique to Saratoga Springs. And as I try to limit my gluten intake, a place where pizzas and pastas aren't the main focus would be nice as well.


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  1. All four are good choices; one of them offers pizzas (Max London's), but also lots of tapas in a trendy atmosphere; one of them has pasta offerings, but lots of other choices, including probably the best steak entree in Saratoga Springs (Chianti), one of them offers interesting cuisine/small plates (Wine Bar) and one of them offers market cuisine (Beekman St.) All are authentically Saratogian. Go to whichever one will reserve a table.

    1. That's a good list. I'd also add Maestro's, where I had a delicious dinner (caesar salad w/white anchovies, soft-shelled crab on polenta pancakes, raspberry creme brulee) last weekend. The service was great too, attentive without being intrusive.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Elisa515

        We were there recently, and were at both Hatties and Maestro's, plus had a great meal at Dine, which seems to be overlooked here. I live on Long Island, and eat in NYC often, so am familiar with what they have to offer there. I had great fried chicken at Hatties, something I think is hard to find in NYC. I agree with you that it might be the place to go.

      2. Thanks guys! I did make a reservation at Beekman.

        And Robinsilver, Hattie's fried chicken was definitely better than anything I had in NYC. It's really good. But DH just came back from a business trip in Mississippi last week where he ate quite a bit of the stuff (and, believe it or not, he said it was better than Hattie's!). So we're looking for something different.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Needle

          Miss Needle, please report back on your experience at Beekman Street Bistro. Enjoy!

        2. We love Lanci's in Saratoga. It's a very small family run business, the food and staff are wonderful. Tough to get in though.

          3 Replies
          1. re: GIOny

            Lanci's is gone. 8 Tables Restaurant is in their former location. We went recently and posted a report of our experience.

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Sorry to hear that, we really enjoyed it. I'll look for your other review, I think we'll be going up in a few weeks. Thanks for the update.

              1. re: GIOny

                I never went to Lanci's but read good things on this Board. 8 Tables is currently doing three dinner seatings: 6 pm, 8pm, 10 pm.

          2. The Wine Bar is my favorite and we have been many times. Probably won't meet your not like NYC requirement. Beekman Street Bistro was good. They charged for bread service. Have only been to Mrs. London's for lunch, not Max's yet. Went to Chianti for the first time recently. Service was excellent food was mixed. I think it might be overrated (to be fair I have only been once). As to Dine, we went once. I thought Beekman Street Bistro was better.

            16 Replies
            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Keep in mind, it's track season and Saturday is supposed to finally be a nice day. Chianti doesn't take reservations. You'd almost definitely need a reservation at any other of those good choices.

              1. re: markabauman

                markabauman, do you know why Chianti has this policy? We would probably go more often if they took reservations.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  I have known David personally for many years (although I only went to old location a few times and never to the new location; a few times to Forno), but I have never asked him that question. I have a gift certificate for DZ restaurants and thought about going after track season. If I do, I'll ask him and report back.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    Your call, of course, but except when it's crazy busy in town, like this time of year, it's never a very long wait. After you check in with them, they will take your name and cell number, and phone you when your table's ready, so you can stroll around town or bar-hop a little bit while you wait. Not a bad way to spend an evening in the Spa.

                    1. re: PSZaas

                      Thanks markabauman and PSZaas. We went before track season on a weeknight and the restaurant was not full. We didn't have a wait. Maybe we just need to continue that approach. Good Italian options in this area are limited (always appreciate recs) when we don't want to drive to Albany, Troy or Schenectady. We're not into Augies.

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        What-you're not into stuff-your-face, feeding-frenzy, quantity over quality dining?
                        For a truly unique experience, one might want to consider the Villa Balsamo during track season only. It's a very NJ-Long Island style experience reminiscent of a past HBO series. Cash only (unmarked bills preferred).

                        1. re: markabauman

                          Is Villa Balsamo still in business for the "public" during track season?

                          1. re: jaylhorner

                            I believe "normal" people can and do go; you don't have to be "connected".....

                            1. re: markabauman

                              markabauman, you are so on the money. I haven't been for years, but do they still have the blackboard with tonight's specials, w/o prices! In fact, I'm not sure the old menu had prices. I remember the bill for six being astronomical, like 2K or so--in 2009 dollars.

                              1. re: gerchak198

                                We went there a number of years ago and asked the "waiter", who looked very uncomfortable wearing an apron (although it was leather), for the wine list. He growled "I'm da wine list...whadda ya' want? red or white or sangria?". I do believe, however, that they now have a real wine list.
                                A few years ago we went with some people who were friends with Joe & Carmela, the owners, who came out to say hello. The chef, one of their sons also came out. I asked him about the menu and what he suggests. He says "I suggest I get the f*** out of here and take a f***in vacation!". I was too speechless to respond.

                                1. re: markabauman

                                  Maybe while we wait for our reservation at Basement Bistro . . . Albany, Troy and Schenectady are not that far . . .

                                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                    Wow- I live in Saratoga and never would have known that Villa Balsamo actually operates. In fact, I drove by it this AM on the way to the vet for my dog and thought to myself, "that property must be abandoned or for sale or something" because it looked so uninviting.

                                    So it sounds like if we are up for an adventure (and apparently willing to part with half our paycheck), we could check it out sometime?

                                    1. re: bdegregory

                                      Well, it's hard to say if I would truly recommend it or not. As stated, it's quite expensive; food is (in my opinion) decent, not great standard Italian-American fare. If you want a unique summer Saratoga track experience, however, and you want to hang with horse people and feel like you're part of a movie/TV set, it could be fun.

                                      1. re: bdegregory

                                        The Paradiso, now closed (it was pretty bad) has a sign out front that says that they are now at Villa Balsamo. Please post if you do go.

                                        1. re: gerchak198

                                          Same owners, no? My impression is only one of their restaurants is open at a time; when Villa Balsamo closes at the end of the season, they'll reopen Paradiso; at least that's been their practice in the past.

                                          1. re: PSZaas

                                            Yes, but now Paradiso has a For Sale sign out front.