Friday, April 29, 2011

Looks Aren’t Everything - Five Guys Burger and Fries

Let’s clear the air right away: Five Guys makes the best burgers around. Hands down. No, they might not be pretty but they score major points where it counts: they taste great. But just because they don’t roll the red carpet out for you doesn’t mean they aren’t worth checking out. After all, even President Obama has been spotted at Five Guys. 

Before I sink my teeth into one of those juicy, made to order burgers, I always gobble down two handfuls of fries. Why? I don’t know what kind of seasonings they use but those things are so addictive. They don’t shortchange you either, they fill a cup with them and add another scoop into the bag, so you definitely get your money’s worth. Now, I normally feel pretty sick after downing a bag of fries at other restaurants, but when I’m at Five Guys I’m always amazed at just how fast I eat them and how I never seem to have enough. 

Now onto the main course: the burger. Five Guys gives you options. You can choose from dozens of toppings and sauces. That’s not to say that these burgers need it, the patties are juicy and delicious. Yeah, they're a little greasy, and if you get mayo, ketchup and mustard like I do, it’s sloppy. But they never, ever,  fail to hit the spot. Check them out next time you drive by.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No Fly in My Soup, But What The Heck is in My Bread?

Whenever you think of the "fly in your soup," routine you typically think of a nicer restaurant. That's part of the joke – the place is too classy to have flies in their soup.

Every once in awhile even Average Joe likes to splurge on one of the region's more expensive restaurants. Sometimes it's to celebrate a special occasion, and other times it's to enjoy myself because I work so hard. And, after all these years of dining in restaurants, I’m happy to say I’ve never had fly in my soup.

So, imagine my surprise when I bit into my bread during a special trip to 677 Prime. "Waiter, my bread appears to be laced with paper!"
Let me mention two things just to be fair: 1. The rest of the food, sans paper, was very good although my waitress Maria seemed to be taking her bad day out on me. 2. I have never had paper in my cannoli's from Angelo's Villa Italia.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiter, I think you brought the wrong meal...I didn't order any flies

Have you ever went out to eat only to find something in your food that wasn't supposed to be there? Something gross?  Once Average Joe had lunch with a friend, (yes I do have friends) and there was a dead fly in her salad and she freaked out. Remember the dope in Clifton Park a few years ago who "found" a snake head in his salad?  That was a scam and he should have been charged. That being said Average Joe decided to class it up a bit recently and he found something very unappealing in his food.  A hint: I was at one of the top three restaurants in the region, arguably #1.   Stay tuned to find out what it was.   

(and no, it wasn't a fly)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bellini's Gourmet To-Go Tuesdays

Those of you interested in the Dash Out Dine In meal at Paolo Lombardi's may also like to hear about Gourmet To-Go Tuesdays at Bellini's Italian Eatery. Bellini's, which has locations in Clifton Park and the Slingerlands, offers different family dinners for pick up each week for $22.95.

Click here for more information about the offer. You may also sign up to receive their email blasts by clicking on "Join email list" on the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Tonight's meal is Nino's classic mixed sauce, Caesar Insalata and some fresh Italian bread.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Paolo Lombardi’s: Dine In Dash Out – Chicken Marsala

Average Joe here and, while I hate to sound like a broken record since I’ve mentioned these guys a few times already, I also think it’s high time to show you some pictures of the Dine In Dash Out dinner for six that I ordered on Wednesday. I’m sure you have heard about the generous portions Paolo Lombardi’s gives. If not, just take a look at this:

Every dinner comes with Italian bread and salad.

The dinner for six set me back $28.99. That comes out to less than $5 per person. Good luck finding a deal better than that, especially something that isn’t fast food. If you’re looking for a smaller portion than the one I got, the dinner for two is $14.99 and the dinner for four is $19.99. A word to the wise: I’m not the only “average joe” that knows about this deal so you better call your order in as early as possible. They told me they sell out pretty regularly and, if I judge by the long line that’s always wrapped around the building, it’s really popular.
Check it out if you haven’t, you can’t beat having such great food at such a low price with so little work on your end. For more information about the restaurant and a look at next week’s schedule, click here.

What's your favorite summertime food?

Now that Old Man Winter finally seems to be done with us for good, I think it's safe to start talking about summer time foods. The Capital Region has plenty of restaurants that close their doors for the winter and re-open once the snow melts and the weather warms up. Jack's Drive-In (Wynantskill) and P.J.'s BBQ (Saratoga Springs) are two such seasonal local institutions. And don't forget summer is also the time for backyard barbeques and grilling outdoors.

Q103 posted a story on their website a few hours ago that shared their fans' favorite summertime foods. Hamburgers got the most votes, steak came in second and hot dogs trailed as a distant third. I agree with the author...I'm surprised hot dogs didn't garner more votes.

So tell me readers, do you have any favorite summertime foods or restaurants?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hooters is Back

It was a dark day when Hooters closed its doors and left Crossgates. Albany area wing lovers had no other Hooters to turn to in their time of need. Many of them have been praying for the restaurant's return ever since that terrible day and at long last somebody seems to have answered their prayers. Word on the street is that 70 Wolf Road in Colonie, the former home of Fudruckers, will soon be home to a new Hooters restaurant. The restaurant is on schedule to open in May.

 Click here to read the Business Review's article for more information.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We're #1

Average Joe doesn't like to brag, but as many of you undoubtedly noticed, yours truly has shot up to #1 on the list of blogs on the Troy Record - Life section.  I feel an acceptance speech coming on....

"I would like to thank my parents, who both worked long hours leaving me at home to cook for my brothers and sisters.  This is when I first learned of my love for food.  I'd also like to thank countless girlfriends who couldn't cook or did such a horrible job cooking that I found myself going out to eat more often.  (Annoying music slowly starts in the background they are trying to get me to wrap up my speech)  A....a... and also I would like to thank my first grade teacher who once said that I would never, ever be a food critic blogger for a local newspaper, which seemed like an odd thing to say because Al Gore hadn't invented the internet at that time and blogs had not been heard of, thought I'm sure Mrs. Dodge was secretly trying to inspire me (MUSIC GETS LOUDER) and one last thing I want to give a SHOUT OUT TO CHEF BOYAR.....(cut to commercial).

"Expansion will enable Minissale’s to make sauce, create jobs"

Inside of Minissale's.
I'm sure many of you heard the big news yesterday, that Hamberger U is hiring again. The good news doesn't stop there, the Troy Record broke a story this morning about a Capital Region gem called Minissale's. Minissale's, a stand out Italian restaurant for more than three decades, is located on 14th Street in Troy. The restaurant will be expanding into a nearby building where they will cook and bottle their sauce for retail sale. This means more jobs for the community, something Average Joe always loves to read about. Funding for the expansion was secured through partnerships with the City of Troy, Rensselaer County and local banks.

For more on this story as well as a video, click here to read on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

BBQ Wars - "Pig Pit BBQ seeing boost since arrival of Dinosaur"

As I said in my review of Mustang BBQ, the Capital Region has its fair share of BBQ restaurants. Off the top of my head I can list: Capital Q, Dinosaur BBQ, Giffy's, Pig Pit, P.J.'s and Mustang BBQ, but there are many more. With so many choices and so much variety, the winner is the consumer. I bring this up because the Troy Record just ran an article about these "BBQ wars," centering on the effect Dinosaur BBQ's opening in Troy has had on a nearby restaurant in Cohoes that I have gone to many times, called the Pig Pit. The article is a good read and they even have a video with the owner for you to check out. Click this link  to view the article.

This gives me a great idea: starting a BBQ War feature here on Average Joe. Where is your favorite BBQ restaurant? Who should I review first?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chambers’ Leadership Class Adopts Equinox Youth Services and Invites the Community for Drinks at Aperitivo Bistro

Average Joe here and I just wanted to pass along some news about an event Aperitivo Bistro is hosting this coming Tuesday. The event will benefit will benefit children and youth. For more details read on:

The forty members of this year’s Leadership Tech Valley (LTV) class have selected Equinox, Inc.’s Youth Services for the class’s community service project, “Strive for Drive.” Class members representing various businesses, not for profit agencies and government entities, have dedicated themselves to raising more than $20,000 to purchase a seven-passenger minivan for Equinox. The children and youth who benefit the most from Equinox’s programs often have the lowest level of access to safe and reliable transportation. The minivan acquired by LTV will have a major positive impact on the children and the success of these programs.
The public is invited to join LTV at Aperitivo Bistro (426 State Street, Schenectady, NY) for Happy Hour on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 from 5:15 – 7:30pm, featuring an original drink, the VANtastic VANilla Martini. Aperitivo will generously donate 50% of the proceeds from all drinks and appetizers ordered from the bar during our event, plus 50% of all gratuities collected.
If supporting a great cause is not enough to get you to stop down, come to see our two guest bartenders…Giulio Veglio, owner of downtown Schenectady’s Paul Mitchell-The School and Angelo Mazzoneowner of Aperitivo Bistro and other area restaurants, who will lend a special flair to the festivities!
During the event, you can buy a ticket for our exciting Wine Pull. Purchase your chance to select a bottle from our display of hidden wines. You may end up with a very valuable vintage to bring home!
Admission is free, although advance registration is requested for planning purposes. Additional information and a registration link can be found at
Supporters unable to attend the Happy Hour can still donate to Strive for Drive by visiting and clicking on the blue and white “Donate Now” box on the left of the page. Please type “LTV Van Project” in the DESIGNATION field to ensure funds are applied appropriately. 
The LTV class recently held a highly successful brunch at Yono’s Restaurant and is looking forward to another Happy Hour event featuring guest bartenders at Taste, 30 South Pearl St., Albany, NY, on Monday, May 16 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. LTV will be acquiring the minivan from Mohawk Honda in Glenville, NY, and the class will participate in the dealership’s grand opening and ribbon cutting on April 23.
The LTV class thanks its sponsors: Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership, Key Bank, M&T Bank, Pioneer Bank, Rose & Kiernan, Inc., Turner Construction Company, Austin & Company, Inc., Carter Conboy, McNamee, Lochner, Titus & Williams, P.C., Deily, Mooney & Glastetter, LLP, SKS Bottle Packaging, Inc., Lynette & Michael Tucker. In Kind Sponsors include: Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, Alison Cisek Designs, Aperitivo Bistro, Equinox, Inc., Mohawk Honda, The Chamber of Schenectady County, Yono's, Emil J. Nagengast Florist, Steinmetz Career and Leadership Academy & Blodgett Success Academy for Middle School Students.
Leadership Tech Valley is a shared initiative of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Schenectady County.  The program is dynamic, interactive and provides skill development and community immersion experiences that enable participants to grow personally and professionally as they explore issues and opportunities in the Capital Region.
Equinox, Inc. is a non-profit service organization dedicated to providing innovative, holistic, compassionate social services to individuals and families.   The 2011 Class of Leadership Tech Valley is proud to be contributing to the work Equinox is doing for the youth of the Capital District.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Villa Italia

Average Joe has something of a sweet tooth, so he's no stranger to local bakeries. Sometimes I just can't help it, especially when all of these treats look so good. I know we all have our favorite bakeries but there are so many out there you owe it to yourself to try something new every once in a while. If you haven't been to Villa Italia yet, take a look at what I bought and keep them in mind for Easter.  

I could probably eat a dozen
of these creampuffs.

So good I couldn't get just one.

Leave the gun, take the cannoli.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Looking for a Great Local Bakery?

I’ve been to a lot of restaurants, so trust me looks aren’t everything. As I’ve said before, when you go out to eat you have to manage your expectations. You don’t expect a five star d├ęcor from Gus’ Hot Dogs, you expect delicious hot dogs and that’s what you get. Schuyler Bakery falls under the same category, the building may not wow you – it’s basically just four walls, a big glass window and a door - but the cakes and treats they sell sure will.

Take a stroll through the bakery with me. When you walk inside there are rows of fresh donuts, cookies, and cakes behind every counter. Through the glass counter you can see the fudge fancies, Easter cookies, bread, and a bunch of other types of sweets. Everything is priced right and the bakery is family owned and operated so you know they aim to please. It’s not just a hometown Watervliet bakery either, people all over the Capital Region come here for their amazing treats. On Easter, it is unbelievably packed, and opens at around 5 am. Just be careful, if you don’t get there until 7 am, be ready to line up by Cummings Funeral Home. If you’re ever looking for a sugary cinnamon bun, or a fudge fancy that is completely covered in chocolate, stop by Schuyler Bakery for some of the best home-made goodies in the Capital District.

Food Fight!

I think clowns have the right idea, every once in a while I want to pie somebody in the face. It’s too early to crack open a beer can so those of you that are having a bad day have to find a different way to relax. They say laughter is the best medicine so put down your cup of Joe and watch this scene from National Lampoon’s Animal House. Has anybody out there ever started a food fight? I know it’s a terrible waste of food, but just try to tell me that doesn’t look at least a little fun.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

There’s no Subs-Ta-Toot for these subs

My mother once told me that I ate so much eggplant that I would eventually turn into one. Quite a few years have gone by since then and I still see a human being smiling back at me every time I look in the mirror. So, it’s safe to say that I’m not a vegetable or an alien, at least not yet. Anyway, as I am sure you can tell by both my reviews and my feature on Italian import shops, I love Italian food. That doesn’t just go for the traditional meals, I also like Italian cold cuts and cheeses, basically whatever I can get my hands on. So, it was only a matter of time until I acted on a tip I had about Subs-Ta-Toot in Cohoes.

Subs-Ta-Toot has been around for a while. I’ve driven past it and now I know why it has had such staying power. Forget about all of the ad campaigns you’ve seen for sub restaurants for a second. Not only does Subs-Ta-Toot have $4.79 footlongs, (take that Subway!) they really know how to pile on the meat so you’re going to have a serious sandwich on your hands. All of the cold cuts are fresh and high quality. I know some of you out there love Royal Crown cola so you’ll be pretty pleased to know they serve it here.

I was starving when I walked in there so I ordered an Italian mixed sub and a chicken parm sub to go. The sandwiches are big so I had one for dinner and one for lunch the next day. The chicken parm was my favorite out of the two subs but everything hit the spot. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

I’ll Take One Big Flat Noodle to Go Please

Ordering a pizza can be about as easy as pulling your own teeth out, especially with my family. Agreeing on where to ordering from is usually tough enough, but once you do you have to figure out what to put on your pie. Half of the time nobody cares so you have to decide yourself and make everybody happy. The other half of the time everybody has to offer their ten cents so you have to hash it out until you finally agree. Naturally nobody ever seems to want exactly the same thing as you. Come on, nobody else likes pineapple on their pizza? Anyway, the beauty of ordering Chinese food is that everybody gets to pick whatever they want and you all end up sharing it in the end. But, sometimes it still isn’t easy, especially if you order with Cosmo Kramer.

While we're on the subject of ordering out, why are my only options pizza and Chinese? Why hasn't anybody started delivering Philly cheese steaks?