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The Appian Way (review)

Short Description of The Appian Way (review)

By Stacey Morris

www.staceymorris.com

The Appian Way

(518) 393-8460

1839 Van Vranken Ave. (between Clarendon and Raymond Streets) Schenectady, N.Y. 12308

I'd heard the legend for years. The Appian Way has routinely won "Best Of" awards in our local media, coupled with friendly warnings to not bother dining there if you're in a hurry. Our waiter agreed as he welcomed my boyfriend and I and recited the specials. "Yes we're popular and have a loyal following," he said as he leaned forward to light our votive in the center of the table. "However,  this is a very polarizing place. People either tend to love us or hate us."

The hate couldn't have anything to do with the food. Everything we had that night was superb. The wait is no exaggeration. We were prepared for it and willing to pay the price in ticking minutes for well-prepared, original dishes.  If you're looking for standards like lasagna, eggplant parm, and penne alla vodka, this isn't the place. Sisters Filomena and Gina, who hail from the region of Lazio in central Italy, are a culinary pipeline to their roots. They cook what they know and what represents their heritage.

The key to understanding the wait is misunderstanding. Everything here--everything--is home made. The bread is made by the sisters, the pasta, the gelato. The salad comes from their own garden, and on and on. Indeed, you will never see a food delivery truck here. 

 

First, let's talk about the bread! You are promptly presented with a basket of home made bread that is some of the best you've ever had.  It's not just delicious, the carb delivery is a necessary diversion for the wait-- which really isn't that interminable, but guaranteed, it's longer than the Olive Garden.  Our patience was rewarded with two flawless appetizers: a chilled bowl brimming with giant shrimp cocktail and delicately fried eggplant slices, lightly breaded, and sandwiching layers of melted fresh mozzarella cheese and a discreet smattering of housemade Marinara. Lesson learned:  the eggplant was voluptuous enough for a meal, which is probably what I'll order next time.

Not that the entrees weren't delicious, they were: my regional chicken dish was generously piled with perfectly cooked mushrooms, a tasty canopy which shielded a layer of pungent cheese (probably Peccorino Romano). It all sat atop a bed of wilted spinach and I could only finish a few bites. No matter, it came back beautifully in the toaster oven a few days later.  And because I’m gluten-free, in lieu of pasta, I ordered a side of incredibly delicious, thick, and memorable asparagus stalks slowly baked in butter and sprinkled with chards of Peccorino cheese.

My boyfriend's veal and pasta was divine.  The sauce was creamy but not overly rich and complemented both the pasta and veal perfectly.  Although desserts are made in house as well, we rounded out the gastronomic trip to Rome and beyond with espressos, or as they say in the old country, "Due Espressi."  As we took our final sip, a bit more than two hours after our arrival, we raised our demi-tasse cups towards the kitchen, saluting the dynamic sister act with a polarizing promise to ritornare.

 

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Address: 1839 Van Vranken Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12308

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