Friday, March 18, 2011

Buon Appetito Part 1: Ragonese Italian Imports & DeFazio's Pizza

I opened my own personal Pandora's Box by mentioning Genoa Imports in Loudonville a few posts back. Now, all I want to do is post about all of the wonderful mom and pop Italian "corner stores" we are so fortunate to have in the Capital Region.
I spent a few recent lunchtimes trying not to get sauce on my shirt after frequenting two such establishments. DeFazio's, a South Troy icon, is the main mast on the steamship known as Little Italy. I spent a lunch, a dinner, and a follow-up lunch eating the Chicken & Spinach Calzone I ordered. I am dead serious, it took me three sittings to eat every bite! This thing was so delicious and the sauce is perfect for spreading, dunking or just dumping on top. The only question I have for myself is when should I go back?
Similarly, Ragonese Italian Imports on New Scotland Avenue is an anchor tenant to one of Albany's solid middle class neighborhoods. It's amazing how these Italian stores are still so central to neighborhood life. Average Joe split time between a chicken parm sandwich and an eggplant parm sandwich, with a side of perfectly seasoned pasta salad, and tasty pepper shooters (a mildly hot pepper stuffed with prosciutto and provolone). A more than satisfying and gut busting meal, but to be honest the best thing from Ragonese is only available on the catering menu -- trays of their unbelievable sesame chicken have been part of my family's Christmas Eve tradition for about 10 years. I make sure I get the detail to pick them up and then I spend the ride from the store to meet the family at church snacking.

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