Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Via Fresca: If You Lived There, You'd Have Lunch By Now

After the ferocious snows I had quite an appetite, so I decided to find Via Fresca, which has been given good reviews in the Albany blogosphere. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it is a respectable Italian lunch spot and deli with many tasty treats. Their panini especially have drawn raves (I didn't try the panini, but I believe it from their overall good quality).

Via Fresca is at 1666 Western Ave., on the left hand side if you're coming from Albany, past the entrance to Crossgates.

Let's get this out of the way: the building looks like an el cheapo location for the future manicurists of America to flunk out of beauty school. It is not at all attractive. From the looks of it, it might as well be a dentist's office or a skeezy pet shop with goldfish dying from unfiltered water or an insurance agent's office that will finance your drug habit. Okay maybe I exaggerate just a little bit. But. The entrance from the parking lot actually made me wonder if I was in the right place.

And it's not really the kind of place you can hang out or relax and have your meal. There are a few tables in the back for wastrels like me, but I was the only one using them. This is really more of a takeout place.

But if I lived nearby I'd go there regularly to stock up on their wonderful deli salads like artichoke, shrimp, and pastas. They had a nice lineup of meats, some hot dishes (the eggplant parm looked addictive), and some gourmet grocery items (mascarpone, chocolates). We need more places like this in the Capital Region so those of us who are busy can still do takeout and eat well.

And last but not least, they have excellent cookies. I went for the coconut rounds and the raspberry bars, which rocked my world.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Peruvian food in Troy!

This post has been edited (4/22/07) again. While a friend of mine said the other week that she had a pretty bad experience at Hotspot with bad service, she has returned with a better time of it, and she feels that all in all, it's worth supporting the independently owned Hotspot. Plus, the owner has posted a comment (below). I personally plan on returning.

After attending the first official Troy Night Out, we worked up an appetite, and murmurings from the crowd led us to Hotspot, which claims on its website that it is "Troy's best café." Well! Since we have what-- like about 20 cafés now?-- that's saying something! We had to check this out.

I hadn't brought my camera, and even if I had, it was pretty dark in there, so unfortunately no pix. However, I will be going back, with my camera.

I had papa a la huancaina-- described on this blog about Peruvian food-- and I am now an addict. This simple dish was just boiled potatoes served with a creamy yellow sauce made from yellow peppers and cheese. There was also a hard boiled egg. It was DELICIOUS! And I had it with their Greek salad, which was decent.

The menu here is a combination of Peruvian specialties (fish, meats, etc) and American bar food: pizzas, sandwiches, salads. The pizza my husband had was okay, but I'm interested in going back for the Peruvian food. The best news? They're open 7 days a week from 10-10pm!!! With breakfast all day!!! Yessssss! (Somewhat less good news: they're having music there, which means figure out if whoever is playing is someone you don't mind hearing, because it's a small restaurant).

Check it out, and let me know what you order!