Category Archives: pizza

Adirondack Tubing Adventures


The other day, Quinn and I cashed in a Living Social offer I had purchased for Adirondack Tubing Adventures in Lake Luzerne. Summer seems unrelenting in its march towards Labor Day and the return to school and I knew that Monday’s forecast was the best one of the week. We made a reservation and up the Northway we went.

We arrived at the rustically modest shop after about 75 minutes on the road. We had been warned that we should print our voucher in advance because we wouldn’t have cell phone service. Good call. We checked in and at the appropriate time received our life vests and boarded the bus for a bouncy 15 minute ride to the “putting in” spot. Once we arrived, we were given our tubes (we went with the basic, un-upgraded model) and a few simple directions and then, as a group, we were off.

The pristine waters of the upper Hudson were fantastic. The water temperature was reported to be about 68 degrees, but when the sun was shining, it felt even warmer. The water was soft and without clouds, never getting deeper than about 5 feet, from what I could tell. The fresh smell of the air, faintly cedarish with an occasional whiff of campfire wood smoke, was lovely.

We floated, Quinn and I tied together once again by a cord, doing our best to stay in the middle of the river for the best currents. Along the shore we observed 3 ducks whose remarkable camouflage kept them hidden until one moved ever so slightly revealing their presence. There were pretty wild flowers punctuating the scenery, including some tall, vivid red ones* which I don’t recall ever seeing before. I wished I could have gone closer for a better look, but going with the flow was the day’s agenda so that’s what I did.

A little more than an hour into the trip, we paused on a sandbar for a little beach time. The kids on the trip really enjoyed being out of their tubes and feeling the sensation of the river pulling them along as if it were indeed the ultimate lazy river. I appreciated the chance to stretch a bit, but as our time on land passed, I felt myself growing cold and was happy to get moving again. We reached the “taking out” spot after about another 50 minutes, I think. The times are all approximate since I didn’t wear a watch, and the old Timex one I pulled from the river’s bottom, unfortunately, took too much of a licking to still be ticking.

We were met by our bus and, after a 5 minute bus ride, returned to the shop and our vehicles. Quinn and I changed and drove over to outlets area of Lake George and grabbed a few quick slices from a place called Frank’s on Route 9. I’ve got to say I was pleasantly surprised with the pizza. The crust was crisp, the toppings generous and the sauce flavorful. I’ve had way worse pizza and I wouldn’t hesitate to stop there again. It was a good day.

*When I checked out All Over Albany’s weekly neighborhood roundup I learned exactly what they were, cardinal flowers!

1 Comment

Filed under Boys, family, pizza, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, upstate New York

I have no words.

Words?  Who needs words?  Behold…

Ok, here are a few words in case the picture doesn’t tell the complete story.  Pizza Carbonara: Caramelized onion, housemade pancetta, smoked mozzarella, (perfectly cooked) egg, Cafe Capriccio.  Everything you could ever want from a pizza.

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Local, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants, upstate New York

Everything I know about Troy, I learned from Mary Panza

A flower grows in South Troy

A flower grows in South Troy

Ok, maybe that isn’t 100% true, but she really did get me started on my Troy education.  When I first moved to Albany almost 25 years ago, I received some advice from a childhood friend regarding Troy.  He said, and I quote, “Troy is the armpit of the Universe.” I was uncertain exactly what that meant, but seeing as how I didn’t have a car, Troy wasn’t an area that I planned to explore with any haste anyway.  No problem.

But, then I met Mary Panza, South Troy denizen extraordinaire, and began venturing across the river.  We generally ended up at her sister’s house, where we consumed fantastic quantities of eggplant and pasta, all bathed in the senior Mary Panza’s fabulous red sauce.  My personal opinion began to form about the collar city – Troy was ok with me.

Since that time, I’ve been pulled to Troy for their superior Farmer’s Market, beer and music venues, restaurants and unique shops.  I learned to never move a folding chair left in the street and to maintain a sense of the river’s location to navigate the grid of one-way streets.  I like Troy – there, I said it.

Last night I intensified my like of Troy to a level of affectionate love.  Granted, the company I was in was a definite factor, but the charm of Troy is strong and it has never looked better. Speaking of looking, our evening began at the beautiful and historic St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Photographer and TU blogger, Chuck Miller, had an event to celebrate the opening of his stellar photo exhibit.  The images he captures are primarily local and demonstrate a keen eye for both lighthearted humor and thoughtful observation.  Cool venue, great show, get there before it’s all gone.

Plenty for two - with leftovers for lunch!

Plenty for two – with leftovers for lunch!

Our next stop was DeFazio’s in Troy for some real pizza.  Everything about this joint charms me – the almost magical way the simple ingredients combine for a pizza that is the best I’ve ever had outside of NYC, the politeness of every person who helped to take care of us, the black and white tiled floor, and the red convertible the delivery guy drives.  Everything!  We went with an antipasto and a small pizza with olives and prosciutto.  The antipasto is substantial (served with crunchy garlic bread) and the small pizza was the perfect size for 2.  I think we may need to try the pasta next time because we witnessed a plate of it being served and were practically in need of restraints.  Have any of you ever had their pasta?

The pizza is all that.

The pizza is all that.

We ended the evening with a visit to the Charles F. Lucas Confectionary around the corner from Monument Square, in downtown Troy.  I would feel guilty about not getting to this place sooner, but I believe last night was the first time I’ve been in Troy since this fantastic place opened.  I have to say, it isn’t as if I’ve been missed, because the joint was positively jumping!  The waves of guests entering and departing during our 90 minutes there, was impressive.  We had a tour of the space by the owner, Vic Christopher, and I can’t say enough about the vision he and his wife, Heather, made into a dreamy reality for us all to share.  Wow.  Our bellies were full of pizza and cappicola, but the beautiful glass of Cote du Rhone rose’ Vic brought my way was exactly the crowning touch to a memorable May evening.  I am incredibly enthusiastic about this project. the additional related grocery store business in the preliminary works and the new-to-me term “reclamation construction.”  Troy is a lucky city to have landed such super smart and cool entrepreneurs and I imagine myself finding my way to the Collar City with previously unimagined frequency.

Armpit of the universe?  Au contraire – more like the heart of the Capital District.  Let’s hope our next Albany mayor fosters the kind of growth Troy is now experiencing – and that Mary invites me over for eggplant really soon.


Filed under art, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York, Wine

What makes a perfect snow day?

photo(102)Yesterday was the first snow day my district has had this academic year – and it was well worth the wait.  I understand that we don’t all have the luxury of a delayed start or the cancellation of our work day due to the weather and think you should know I am very appreciative of this career perk.  I was so very thankful for yesterday’s surprise (2″-4″ was the forecast, I’d say 6″ or 7″ was the reality) snow day that I just might send my superintendent a thank you note.  You know how I like to do that.  Or, as my snow day, cross-country skiing partner in crime suggested, perhaps I should send that note of gratitude to the superintendent of my children’s district for not giving them the day off.  I certainly have enough appreciation to spread it out, trust me.

As I spent my found day doing fun things, I realized that I had experienced a perfect snow day.  Here are the factors which led me to that ultimate conclusion:

  • The day off was completely unexpected.  I would have been more than contented with a mere delay.
  • Speaking of delays, the fact that the boys were delayed and I was off was an incredible gift.  We had an easy morning and then there was quiet.
  • Coffee with my favorite fellow was another unexpected treat.
  • Skiing with one of my best hardcore exercise girls at Capital Hills on a day with incredible light and eventual warm temperatures.  Spring skiing rocks!
  • A terrific lunch at the golf course’s Club House.  Seriously, the food was really good!
  • Getting my Saturday chores done a day early.  It almost feels like I was given 2 days!
  • Afternoon coffee with my favorite fellow
  • Making pizza with my boys
  • A hot bath
  • A reasonable bed time


    The secret to homemade pizza? A HOT oven.

I hope you were able to enjoy the recent (bonus) snowfall but, if you didn’t, I think I had enough fun for both of us.  You’re welcome!


Filed under Albany, beauty, Eating, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

12 Days of Christmas ~ Dining Delso

DSC_0013Let’s talk about pizza, shall we?  I mean, I know my boys would happily eat pizza on the 6th day of Christmas.  Truth be told, they’d be content eating pizza six days a week, probably.  Good thing we have some options in the DelSo.  First up – Gourmella’s!  I’ll begin by saying I’m not all that crazy about the name,or about the fact that the sign outside still says Pizzalo, another name I’m unimpressed by.  But, the folks inside have been nothing less than nice to deal with and the pizza has met the boys’ expectations, so I’ve moved past the unfortunate signage and naming confusion.  You should too, because the pizza, particularly when ordered “well-done,” is pretty good and the menu definitely has something for everyone.

My most recent visit there  proved, to me, that they’re good people to do business with – at least according to my standards.  Here’s what happened – I placed an order for pickup and arrived just as my pizza was coming out of the oven.  In addition to a pie, I ordered some wings and somehow that translated into a special combination, with special reduced pricing.  It also came with a 2-liter bottle of soda, an item that never comes into my house unless there’s a party and a bottle of dark rum or bourbon – which of the two depends upon the season,  of course.  When I declined the soda and asked if I could have one of those ridiculous cans of high fructose corn syrup-laden “tea” drinks, the guy behind the counter didn’t hesitate to say “Of course.”  Wow – that was an easy, quick and reasonably priced meal – something we can all agree is necessary during these busy holidays.  Give ’em a shot, why don’t you?


Filed under Albany, Boys, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, holidays, pizza, Recommendations

Pizza @Cafe Capriccio

Pizza a la Capriccio
Looks like there may be a new contender in AOA’s Tournament of Pizza.  Friday night Yasmine, Will and I ventured  to Capriccio for a late night, grown-up dinner and were the lucky recipients of Franco’s beautiful circle of love. The pizza Margherita was delicious!  Six slices of crisp crust, fresh, flavorful sauce, and generous mozzarella finished with fresh basil…a perfect beginning to a terrific evening.  The angle of the photo above is misleading – that crust was thin, baby.  I’m talking fold it in half and hear it crunch thin.  I don’t know if pizza is on the menu there yet, but it would be worth your time to investigate.  Pair with the eggplant and a plate of Franco’s home-cured meats, alongside a delicious bottle of Barbera, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic dinner for 2 for little green. 

My frequent partner in crime, Yas

alcohol, whipped cream, chocolate = dessert in a glass

Since we were cabbing it for the night, it was the perfect occasion to enjoy a nightcap at The Point.  Would you just look at this frothy concoction the lovely bartender made for me?  I requested a dessert drink…something with raspberry and chocolate and this is the gorgeous cocktail she served me.  Wish I knew what was in it, but I guess the important thing is, I know where to get another one. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Dinner, drinking, Eating, friends, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants


My most recent trip to the city involved revisiting favorite spots and exploring some new ones.  Otto (8th Street just east of 5th Avenue) is a place to which I frequently find myself returning.  Seriously, I’ve probably been to this restaurant more than 8 times in the last couple of years – it’s just really good.  The design of the space is cool with the large bar area being designed to evoke an Italian train station, including a large destination board which taunts with the names of Italian cities I’m longing to visit.  Damn you, Mario Batali!  Perhaps if I spent less money in your establishments I could actually get to Italy with greater frequency…
We had intended to have a light(ish) lunch here prior to having something a bit more substantial later, but, we ended up making this our main meal of the day – leaving plenty of room for liquid calories. Don’t ever say I’m not a planner! Speaking of liquids; I’m usually all over the wine choices when I’m at Otto. They serve their wine by  the glass selections in adorable little vessels called quartos (who knew this posting would be an education in Italian numerals!) which I love. It’s like getting a milkshake with a little extra on the side know what I mean?  On this visit, however, we opted for beer, anticipating that we would be drinking bourbon later in the day and finally being wise enough to understand that it is best to stick with either grain or grape to minimize the pain of the morning after.  We only had  one beer each, but, boy were they good!  I honestly can’t remember what Lisa drank (maybe a pilsner?), but I might never forget how tasty the Ommegang BPA was!  It was the perfect temperature, beautifully hoppy and served by a man with an Irish brogue.  How happy was I? 

Here’s a picture of the pizza we shared – loaded with prosciutto and arugula, crispy and piping hot – divine!  An aside: I think it was only after working in restaurants (for years), and having children of my own, that I truly began to appreciate how special hot food is.  Do not underestimate the power of serving me hot food!  We paired it with a couple of vegetable selections; my favorite spicy broccoli rabe with ricotta salata and some dynamite brussel sprouts.  Can someone please remind me why I didn’t like vegetables like these as a child?  They seriously rock my world these days and I am happy to say that I am now old enough that I can’t remember a time when I wouldn’t dive into these greens with gusto.  
                                             eat your vegetables!!

Whether you’re looking for a place to have a meal with the family, drinks and a bite with a friend, or even a (gasp!) date spot, Otto just might fit the bill for you.   And, if you’re looking for someone to join you there, give me a shout.  I’m always up for an Otto adventure.


Filed under Eating, friends, NYC, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants