-Reviews-

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Success Magazine

By Lori James

Not all Italian restaurants are created equal, and I’m here to tell you that MezzaNotte Ristorante is in a class of its own. This is not your run-of-the-mill spaghetti and meatball restaurant. MezzaNotte elevates classic Italian favorites with a contemporary twist, and the results are simply phenomenal.

MezzaNotte, meaning midnight in Italian, conjures up a certain romantic allure, and the ambiance of the space did not disappoint. The dimly lit dining room, with its warm earth tone walls, midnight blue ceiling, and framed photos of various regions of Italy in the midnight hour, create a perfect backdrop for exquisite cuisine. As we were ushered to our table, I couldn’t help but notice the warmth and attentiveness of the staff, and I knew that good things were to come.

My companions and I could not get over all the enticing options on the MezzaNotte menu. As we delighted in our dense peasant bread served with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Kalamata olive tapenade, we decided to take a tasting odyssey through MezzaNotte’s menu. Our uber-attentive and delightful waitress, Kristen, suggested we try the Sienna Super Tuscan blend wine from the Ferrari-Carano vineyards, which proved to be the perfect selection. Bright raspberry notes, smooth tannins, and a rich finish—it had the versatility to be the perfect accompaniment to our varied dining selections. My companions and I began our culinary adventure with the carciofi, beets and burrata, and frutti di marre appetizers. As beautiful as each appetizer was to behold, they were every bit as spectacular to taste. The carciofi—grilled artichoke hearts stuffed with Romano cheese, roasted tomatoes, and olives—created a sublime melding of Italian flavors on our taste buds. Pickled beets and creamy mozzarella cheese served with beet vinaigrette made up the beets and burrata. Bright and fresh in taste and appearance, this dish is the perfect summer appetizer. The frutti di mare consisted of sautéed calamari and baby octopus tossed in a romesco sauce over chic peas. The romesco sauce—ground tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and almonds—was the ideal complement to the seafood. This fragrant dish was even enjoyed by my companion, who is not a lover of octopus. As we finished our dazzling appetizers our waitress soon appeared with two gorgeous salads. The MezzaNotte, was a delicately structured mix of baby greens, goat cheese, hazelnuts, dried figs, apples and pears, tossed in a house vinaigrette. The interplay of the pungent and sweet was masterfully balanced. Arugula with grilled ciabatta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion made the panzanella salad a simple earthy delight.

I found it noteworthy that the flatware is routinely changed with each course served at MezzaNotte. The detail to service is so flawless it makes the dining experience that much more special. With clean flatware in place, my companions and I were served our two pasta dishes. My heart went pitter-patter when I saw the beauty of these creations. From the al dente ribbon pasta, to the supremely fresh Maine lobster and delicate lobster cream sauce of the pappardelle con arogosta, the dish was nothing short of a masterpiece. Raviolis stuffed with porcini mushrooms and fresh peaches made up the agnolotti dish. The union of two of my favorite foods in the world proved inspired, as these raviolis were to die for! For our final entrees we indulged in pesce spada, agnello, and pollo. The pesce spada—impeccably grilled swordfish with arugula, fennel and piquillo peppers, and finished in tomato pesto—melted like butter in our mouths and was seasoned to perfection. Grilled lamb chops, summer vegetable caponata, and mint pesto came together to create the agnello—a well-balanced dish of sweet tenderness and freshness. The pollo—expertly roasted free-range chicken served with a medley of summer vegetables in a Madeira sauce—was over the top delicious, and a perfect savory note to end on.

We finished our dining extravaganza with three house-made desserts that were luscious by any standards. The Venetian tiramisu was as light as a cloud and tasted as though it was heaven sent, the dense ricotta cake was truly an authentic Italian treasure, and the lemon basil panna cotta was smooth creamy dreaminess! Even our velvety decaffeinated cappuccinos are worthy of mention, as all too often, even in the best restaurants, they disappoint. Not the case at MezzaNotte.

Executive Chef Scott Krause, a Johnson & Wales graduate with a lengthy and impressive resume, is a true talent in the kitchen. Incorporating the finest and freshest ingredients into his modern and innovative style, Chef Scott is creating sheer magic at MezzaNotte, and breathing new life into Italian cuisine.

Restaurateur Connie Cannistraci-Ware has created a very special upscale dining destination that is a must-visit for anyone with an appreciation for the finer things in life. From the level of cuisine, to the impeccable service and inviting atmosphere, MezzaNotte Ristorante is setting the bar to new heights in the world of fine dining in the Capital Region!

Times Union

MezzaNotte is
a real pleaser"
By Ruth Fantasia

The first 15 minutes or so at MezzaNotte we were peppered with questions. But when all the queries start with "Would you like...," it's hardly an inquisition.

We'd been offered dark napkins so we wouldn't get white lint on our dark clothing, asked if we wanted balsamic vinegar and cracked black pepper in the olive oil, and told we could substitute side dishes as we desired, at no extra charge. And they hadn't even gotten to the big ``What will you be having this evening?''

Putting customers' desires first seems to be a theme at this upscale Italian restaurant that opened near the intersection of Western Avenue and Route 155 in Guilderland in January. Nothing is assumed, and nothing is taken for granted.

The menu offers refined versions of comfort foods such as pasta e fagioli, stuffed filet of beef, gnocchi and shrimp in garlic sauce. Our round of appetizers included a perfectly tender and seasoned carpaccio, paper-thin slices of raw beef tenderloin with Parmesan shavings and arugula aioli ($11), and a special of the evening: portobello mushrooms layered with roasted red peppers and melted fresh mozzarella ($10). We also ordered two less-common starters: eggplant fries with pomodoro sauce ($6) and homemade potato chips layered with Gorgonzola ($7).

Soft, burn-your-mouth-hot eggplant strips were shorter than french fries and enveloped in a crispy, herb-seasoned batter. The tomato sauce alongside was bright and acidic. That dish was a good contrast to the creamy, melting Gorgonzola cheese oozing through the pile of hot potato chips.

While a variety of salads were offered, the appetizer portions were large enough to allow you to skip that part of the meal, or to order a salad and an app as a meal. With a basket of warm bread on the table, and other vegetables to come with our entrees, we passed on the leafy greens.

Dinner proceeded at a comfortable pace with rests between courses filled with conversation and near constant attention to our needs -- "Would you like a glass of ice to refresh your vodka?"

Entrees are divided into three menu sections: pasta, seafood and meat, but don't assume "pasta" excludes the other two. Six of the nine offerings in the pasta category include some meat or seafood.

On the other hand, you're likely not to get pasta if you order from the meat or seafood sections, unless you request it. Each of our entrees came perched on a pile of mashed potatoes or polenta, with a serving of crisp-tender vegetables on the side.

With the exception of the chicken dish, each of us was asked how we wanted our entree prepared, a question usually limited to beef, lamb and tuna. And in all cases, the dishes were cooked precisely as requested.

The Parmesan-crusted veal chop ($29) was about the size of a CD-ROM and an exposed length of bone created a presentation fit for a caveman. The bone rose from a pile of cheese laced polenta that was a little on the dry side, especially after it had sat for a while.

The roast rack of lamb ($29) included four untrimmed ribs. While less attractive than a Frenched rack, where the meat is removed down to the loin, untrimmed ribs include about a third more meat.

A thick, chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, arugula and mozzarella ($22) came pan-seared and cooked in a rich, lightly sweet, Marsala sauce. The sauce also coated several tender button mushroom tops.

All the entrees were good, but the best of the batch was the salmon Veronese ($26). Brushed with an oregano- and garlic-infused olive oil and pan-seared, the inch-and-a-half-thick filet was slightly crusty on the outside, moist and flaky inside.

Since we were brought extra plates for sharing -- "Would you like bread plates or something larger?" -- the meal became a round table of everyone eating everything.

The dessert menu offers classics such as tiramisu, sorbet, chocolate torte and tortufo as well as more unusual items such as chocolate soup and poached pears with Gorgonzola ($8). Paired with the red-wine infused fruit, the Gorgonzola didn't add as much cheesiness as it did salt, making the dish acceptable to even the blue-cheese haters among us.

The tiramisu ($8) was large and flavorful, but there were more ladyfingers than mascarpone filling in most places, leaving you wanting more creaminess.

"Is there anything else I can get for you this evening?" our waiter asked as we finished our coffee. But there was nothing else to bring.

The tab came in an amount of time that didn't make you feel rushed but didn't leave you wondering if your server had gone home for the night.

Dinner for four, including four cocktails, five glasses of wine, two bottles of Saratoga water, three coffees, an espresso and a 20 percent tip, came to $356.

As we left our waiter met us at the door and thanked us for our generosity. I say he earned it.
INFORMATION
MezzaNotte
2026 Western Ave.
Guilderland
689-4433
Cuisine: Italian
Style: Elegant
Ambience: Open dining room is comfortable, but loud.
Rating: ***1/2
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Price: $$$
Price rating based on rough average of entree costs: $ for $9.95 and less; $$ or $15.95-$10.95; $$$ for $15.95 and higher.

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The Daily Gazette

"MezzaNotte serves
high-quality food
expertly cooked"
By Caroline Lee

"Buona sera" is your greeting at MezzaNotte Ristorante on Western Avenue in Albany. Translated, it means get comfortable, settle in and prepare yourself for pampering and a wonderful meal.

Connie Ware, proprietor of the 3-month-old restaurant, knows something about good food served graciously. She's worked in almost ever facet of the business, starting as a waitress. Her last restaurant job was at McGuire's in Albany.

Ware also knows something about designing a comfortable, beautiful restaurant. The swanky bar area is behind the hostess stand where you come in. Admire the large open kitchen as you are ushered to your seat, The cushy booths along the sides surround a sea of linen-swathed tables with comfortable chairs in the center of the room. The soothing earth tones relax you, as a small army of neatly dressed servers moves about noiselessly to cater to you. The open plan and hard surfaces of the floor and walls suggest it could get loud when the restaurant is full.

THOUGHTFUL SERVICE

Companion Ann liked our quiet, out of the way booth. Jessica greeted us: "Buona sera. Welcome to MezzaNotte." She brought water and, having noticed our dark suits, changed our white napkins for dark ones. I love it when they do that.

Ann enjoyed the calamata olive tapenade that accompanied the warm, crusty and wonderful bread, and we thought the lemon scented olive oil served with it was marvelous.

Jessica recommended the melanzane fritte ($6), described as eggplant fries on the menu, but are so much more. You must order them, Ann said the mountain of crispy, light battered sticks, which easily serves four as a first course, was "phenomenal." But don't miss the ceviche martini of lump crabmeat, scallops and shrimp ($12), or past e fagioli ($6), more soup than stew. The eggplant sticks are lightly battered and perfectly cooked and seasoned. "How do they get the batter to stick like that?" Ann wondered, eyeing a specimen. The ramekin of thick pomodoro sauce on the side complemented them nicely.

The pasta e fagioli is a family recipe, made with tomato and chopped bacon. The large bowl of soft cooked beans and curvy ruffled pasta was a tasty comforting dish, and could have easily served as a meal. I liked it very much.

Jessica changed our flatware for each course and never forgot a thing. Ann remarked that she was attentive, but not overbearing. We took her recommendations and were glad we did. The servers looked sharp in crisp black and white with long aprons and moved confidently and efficiently.

I really liked their salad of field greens ($6) for freshness and presentation. It was tossed in a very good homemade balsamic house dressing, and the freshly grated Parmesan softened the tang a bit. It was just how I liked it.

Another overwhelming dish arrived for Ann, verdure de stagione ($9), a mound of those baby greens, this time topped with crispy, fried medallions of goat cheese and figs, with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, pears and filberts. It was served on a gorgeous blue glass dish, which in my house would be called a platter. It was a meal in itself, magnificently presented and it tasted as good as it looked. Marvelous, Ann said.

I passed up the Gorgonzola-encrusted filet mignon ($34) and the chef's special tortelloni with brown butter, sage, walnuts and parsley in favor of the stuffed chicken breast ($22). It's a boneless breast filled with arugula, prosciutto and mozzarella pan-fried served with mushroom Marsala. The chicken could have been a little more tender but sometimes it can't be helped; cooking a chicken cutlet and keeping it moist and soft is a challenge for me unless it's deep fried or breaded. The rich brown sauce with sliced mushrooms was really outstanding and helped quite a bit.

The preparation of the vegetables brought to mind McGuire's; they were salty and buttery and I love them like that. I was hoping to see something other than mashed potatoes, but they were wonderful. I'm in the minority on this, I know, but I'm tired of mashed potatoes. Also reminiscent of McGuire's: lovely herb garnishes.

Ann chose the pan-seared scallops, which were tossed in a lemon cream sauce and served with tomato fettucine ($24). The scallops were cooked through, just to Ann's liking, and the sauce was smooth and creamy. The pasta, which is made at the restaurant along with other kinds of fettucine and lasagna noodles, was cooked just right. The marvelous scallops made up for the monochromatic presentation: We would have liked something else in there for color.

The leftover entrees were added to our growing collection. Jessica offered coffee and dessert and was polite enough to not looked astonished when we agreed.

OUTSTANDING DESSERTS

Most desserts are made in their kitchen, and the ones we had were fabulous. We can recommend the Wares' tiramisu ($8) with enthusiasm; Ann said it was neither soggy nor dry, both fatal flaws in the dessert. Drizzled with chocolate, it was presented beautifully, and the hot cappuccino was just the thing for it. She said she'd order it again.

I had their outstanding homemade chocolate gelato, two very large scoops served on something very like a freshly cooked wafer. It tasted like a warm vanilla cookie, and it began softening the gelato, which was rich and not too sweet and so good.

We were both pleasantly surprised at the price of the meal. "We each had four courses, two sodas and I had coffee," Ann said shaking her head. With tax and tip it came to $121.79. Not chump change, to be sure, but a reasonable price for the quality of food we got. This is fancy stuff, cooked expertly.

We gathered out leftovers and headed out, full and happy. In bocca lupo, MezzaNotte. Translated, that means good luck and I hope that you have many pleasant evenings and wonderful meals in your future.

MezzaNotte Ristorante

Where: 2026 Western Ave., Albany. Phone 689-4433

When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

How Much: $121.79

More Info: Reservations accepted. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express.
Wheelchair-accessible

Culinary Celebrations

By Laura Barokas

MezzaNotte…the romantic innuendo of its name rings true to the warm amber tones and candlelit tables. I have been engulfed in Italy ever since I began my journey writing about our featured cuisine, "A Taste of Italy," discovering new flavors and traditions. I was very excited to experience a taste of Italy right here in the Capital Region, but I was not prepared for the creativity, uniqueness, and elegance that MezzaNotte was about to reveal

I arrived with my guests, Chef George Thomas and Sandra Tizzone, and we were pleasantly greeted by the hostess, who instantly made us feel special. We enjoyed a cocktail at the bar and conversation with our bartender. Connie Ware, the owner of MezzaNotte and the lady of the house, escorted us to our table - and oversized booth fit for royalty. We settled in to our comfortable seats and eagerly awaited our Italian dining experience.

The open kitchen was straight ahead, adding more flavor to the atmosphere. Within seconds our server cordially greeted us, and we knew immediately we would be well taken care of. It was quite obvious from the start that every detail was well thought out. We were handed dark blue napkins, a lovely touch, and long, elegant blue menus.

I adored the midnight theme of the restaurant with the framed art embracing various regions of Italy. Our bread was served warm with and attractive dish of extra-virgin olive oil, spotted with balsamic vinegar, and accented with a touch of calamata olive tapenade. My guests and I had a difficult time narrowing down which menu selections to choose. I must say, there wasn't anything on the menu I didn't want.

We finally made our decision, and we were ready to dine. For our first course, I chose the lobster ravioli, the special of the evening. It arrived on a large square plate resting upon a delicate sauce of white wine and shallots with a lobster base. The lobster was decadent, and the combination of artichokes and ricotta was outstanding. Sandra was thoroughly enjoying the Mezzaluna ravioli, generously filled with eggplant, ricotta and mascarpone.

Chef Thomas was quite pleased with the antipasto's variety of fine quality meats and cheeses. The sweet and hot soppressata was an unexpected treat, along with the garnishes, medley of olives, and the exquisite fig jam. Naturally, we all sampled a little of each to get the true flavor of MezzaNotte.

Connie selected Bortoluzzi Pinot Grigio, Friuli, to accompany our appetizer selections. The delicate aromas of flowers, pear and apple, and the smooth, creamy finish of this fine wine pleasantly passed our lips and enhanced the flavors of our selections.

The appetizers were meals in themselves, but our culinary adventure had only just begun.

Three salads were listed on the menu, so naturally, we ordered one of each. I am very fussy when it comes to salad, and the dressings are usually an issue. I am an avid believer that all bottled dressings should be banned. I was certain, however, that the salads would not disappoint us. I knew this as soon as the bread was served. You just know.

Not only were the salads exceptional, they were exquisite! A work of art - can we frame these please? All eyes were drawn to the MezzaNotte salad, and for good reason. The collection of fine fruits, nuts and greens placed on an oversized, blue rippled glass dish was quite a masterpiece. We finally mustered up the nerve to break into the work of art. The delicate white balsamic dressing added just the right touch to the assortment of fresh greens, hazelnuts, figs, apples and pears. And it was quite delightful to discover one of my favorites, goat cheese, lightly friend and warm, resting on top. Could it get any better than this?

The other salads, while not as extravagant, carried their own with freshness and flavor. The Caprese salad was perfect for mozzarella lovers. Ah…fresh mozzarella, how often do you get that in an Italian restaurant? While enjoying our salads, we decided to indulge in a glass of Bramito Chardonnay, Connie's second wine selection, a delicious medium-bodied wine that carried a hint of oak with fresh vanilla and apple essence.

We were thoroughly enjoying our dining experience. No disappointments, impeccable service - I was very impressed. Our server was very knowledgeable. She could recite every detail about the cuisine and attended to our every need. We noted the comfortable feeling in the dining room. Glancing at other guests from a distance, we sensed relaxation and satisfaction in the atmosphere. Watching the chef at work in the open kitchen was quite entertaining. How often do you get the chance to wave back at the chef while he is preparing your dinner?

Moments later, our three exquisite entrée selections were unveiled to us. We marveled at the detail and artistic presentation of each dish. We had selected the seared diver scallops with butternut squash risotto, the porcini-crusted beef tenderloin and the lobster fettuccini, one of the signature dishes of the house. Connie presented our third wine, Castelluccio Le More Sangiovese, which turned out to be my favorite. It was dark and rich to the nose and carried a chocolate, berry, and currant essence. The velvety tannins and rich full body left our palates with a long, elegant finish.

The lobster fettuccini was fabulous! The vanilla cream brought out the essence of the lobster - very unique and elegant. The tenderloin was cooked perfectly, rare and elevated by the unusual chocolate porcini demi-glace. We were not dealing with an ordinary chef here! I thought the sauce was wonderfully creative. Our filet was accompanied by broccoli rabe, perfectly cooked and seasoned along with gorgonzola gnocchi - which was a first for me.

Finally, the scallops with butternut risotto may just have been my favorite. It's hard to say. Sandra announced that they were the best scallops she ever had. George couldn't make up his mind which entrée he favored. He was enjoying the varying flavors, textures, and nuances of each dish. They were certainly good, and the risotto was so creamy with the butternut squash adding incredible flavor and texture, we simply couldn't stop eating it.

We had finished almost everything, and we were full. Our palates were extremely pleased. Dessert was next, and although we were totally satisfied, we just had to go all the way and indulge. Being a tiramisu fan, I was anxious to try Connie's very own. For other selections, we chose the orange semi freddo, and the torta chocolota, a flourless chocolate cake garnished with genache.

The freddo was a new experience for me, very light, a blend of gelato, frozen cream, and egg whites. The chocolate cake was decadent, rich and luscious. As far as the tiramisu, you'll have to experience it for yourself. My words won't give it justice. Connie says her secret to a perfect tiramisu is in the soaking. Not too much or too little, after years of practice, you develop just the right touch.

The food was utterly amazing, we were treated well, and we felt at home and part of the MezzaNotte family. I confidently and proudly award MezzaNotte four stars, the excelled in every detail, along with perfect delivery of exquisite Italian cuisine. I am already looking forward to going back.

Mark Graham, Executive Chef

Chef Mark Graham brings his culinary talents, knowledge, and expertise to MezzaNotte, making every dish a culinary masterpiece. He began his career in the Boston area as executive chef for Seven Hills Egremont Inn before heading to Napa Valley. Mark worked under Michael French and Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Paolo Alto. He then relocated to the northeast and became the chef at Chez Sophie and The Wine Bar in Saratoga. In 2005 Mark Graham was one of the invited chefs at the James Beard House dinner.

In early 2008, Chef Mark met Connie Ware, and they instantly clicked. With Connie's knowledge of Italian food and Mark's culinary expertise, MezzaNotte had been redefined. Mark never ceases to amaze Connie with his culinary creations, and when asked how he does it, he'll proudly say, "with love."

Connie Cannistraci Ware, Owner

Born in Sicily and raised in Albany, Connie would experience many facets of the food service industry and live in many cities before returning home to Albany. She returned with her husband, Mitchell Ware, both experienced in the restaurant management field, but not sure what lay ahead for them. After being disappointed with the selection of restaurants in the area, Connie decided to open her own. Being Italian, she naturally wanted to open an Italian restaurant, but not something typical. She wanted to infuse elegance, creativity, and romance into a restaurant that would reflect her own tastes and image.

Never having owned a restaurant before, Connie had to start from scratch, beginning with construction. She designed her restaurant and was part of every detail. She pondered over the name for quite some time, and it was the image of deep blues, soft tones, and midnight scenes that led her to the naming of "MezzaNotte."

Connie designed the layout, opted for the open kitchen and a private dining room upstairs, and had recently added on a patio to further enhance one's dining pleasure. She takes pride in using fresh local produce, most of which comes from her family garden. Connie's passion for her restaurant is quite evident in every exquisite detail and flavor, and it becomes part of everyone's experience after dining at MezzaNotte.

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Capital Region Living


"MezzaNotte Ristorante
Creative Classic Italian"
By LP Clark

Overall rating on a scale of 1-10

Service 9 • Food - 8
Ambiance - 7 • Price - $$$

The evening was getting off to a rough start for Darling Dinner Date (D3) and me. An unexpected favor for a friend had us running 20 minutes late for our 7pm reservation at the new MezzaNotte Ristorante in Albany. Not having their phone number, all I could do was hope they weren’t one of those places that makes you feel worse than you already do when you arrive late for a Saturday night reservation. We pulled up to the restaurant to be greeted by valet parking, a nice touch since the parking lot was full and it was raining, and other parking options were not readily apparent. We were pleasantly greeted by the hostess, offered coat check service, and our table was still waiting for us. We walked past the open kitchen and were seated immediately inside the dining room, leaving us a great view for the evening’s cooking show. The restaurant was extremely busy and that included our server, David. It took him a little extra time to greet us, for which he was apologetic, and from the looks of it he was doing a great job working at least four other tables who had arrived all at the same time —not an easy feat. After the delayed start, David was everything we look for when it comes to great service; friendly, able to offer suggestions and able to anticipate our needs, such as extra plates for sharing. We never once had to ask for anything we needed. The wine list is extensive if ordering by the bottle, but somewhat limited for ordering by the glass, nevertheless we each found something to suit our tastes. Warm Italian bread arrived at the table accompanied by a plate of olive oil, vinegar and olive tapenade that had hints of lemon zest, a nice twist on what has become an Italian restaurant standard.

D3 started with the Pizzetta Di Portobello: Portobello mushroom caps topped with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. The mushrooms were grilled and had a great steak-like texture and were topped with the peppers and sundried tomatoes. Fresh mozzarella is laid over top and melted ever so slightly. The dish is finished with a drizzle of pesto and balsamic vinaigrette. Each bite highlighted a different combination of the fantastic flavors. I opted to start with a salad, the Vedure Di Stagione: seasonal baby greens with warm goat cheese, toasted filberts, dried figs and white balsamic vinaigrette. The many different flavors blended well together – the sweetness of the figs, the toasted hearty filberts with the creaminess of the goat cheese, all atop fresh baby greens, made for a fresh start to the meal. This salad could easily be an entrée for someone trying to dine on the lighter side.

Our table was cleared and reset with new silverware in anticipation of our entrée’s arrival. I believe this is something of note, or perhaps just a personal pet peeve, but there is nothing I hate more than having to “save” my silverware for the following course, especially when all the other points of service and presentation have been tended to. I’m glad that MezzaNotte did not overlook this detail. The Penne Alla Siciliana; eggplant and hot Italian sausage in a spicy pomodoro sauce arrived for D3, and for me, the Tortelloni Ripieni, the chef’s special tortelloni, with brown butter, sage, walnuts and parsley. D3 is a connoisseur of sausages and this one met his standards. It was hot, yet flavorful and blended well with the eggplant and tomato flavors of the dish. He said while the pasta was not al dente, it was certainly not overdone, which is probably the texture most patrons are looking for. I sampled the dish and the spiciness was excellent. Be warned: this is not a dish for people who can’t take the heat! Before even tasting the tortelloni, I noticed they appeared to be homemade, which David confirmed. The chef’s stuffing for the pasta that night was fresh spinach and peppers with ricotta cheese. The butter walnut sage sauce was rich, but not overpowering, or outrageously heavy.

Like we always do, D3 and I glanced ahead to the dessert offerings and agreed to save room, so we ate only half our meals. We enjoyed the leftovers the next evening, which seems to be standard protocol for those dining at Mezza Notte, as we did not witness a single person leave without a doggie bag.

Tiramisu is at the top of the dessert menu and always grabs my attention. However, they also offer a gelato of the day. It was pistachio and chocolate, neither of which were powerful enough to pull me away from ordering the Venetian Tiramisu. D3 was eyeing the ricotta cheesecake, but David convinced him that the Torta Di Ciocolate was a must have, a dense chocolate tort accented with almond flavor. The Tiramisu did not disappoint, and for those who order it often and are familiar with the many variations, this was a cake-like layered style as opposed to the zabaglione atop scant lady fingers style. While D3 was happy with his choice, it was quite an intense endeavor; the ricotta cheesecake would have been a lighter finish to the meal. We both decided a dessert doggie bag was also in order.

Mezza Notte is an upscale dining experience, the perfect place for a festive occasion or celebration, but it is not a romantic setting as the dining room is loud and the bustle of the restaurant is front and center with the open kitchen. Reservations are recommended. The total cost of the meal was $100.93, not including the tip or the tip for the valet. The offered tip for the coat check was kindly refused. This was a great value considering we ordered off the entire menu and had dinner for two nights.

Awards

Capital Region Living Magazine:
Best New Restaurant

  • Cheesecake Factory
  • MezzaNotte Ristorante
  • LT’s Grill



Albany Times Union:
Best New Restaurant

  • Cheesecake Factory
  • MezzaNotte Ristorante
  • Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Why? This category beautifully illustrates how diverse dining can be: Voters picked a huge local incarnation of a national chain, featuring a 160-item menu plus 50 kinds of cheesecake;a small, artful, upscale Italian place; and an utterly unpretentious casual joint that serves nothing more than burgers, dogs and fries. The only thing that unifies the three is their respective deliciousness.

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