Showing posts with label guilderland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guilderland. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marisa's Place



We had our first bite of Marisa's Place pizza at All Over Albany's 2014 Tournament of Pizza semi-finals. The 2012 Tournament of Pizza winner didn't move onto the finals but there was something about the classic margherita pizza that both John and I really enjoyed. We decided to stop by the shop itself for a taste of our own.



The shop is located in an unassuming strip mall in Guilderland. We saw more take-out orders than diners but decided to stay at the few tabletops for a full pizza experience. The menu is a mix of standard favorites but also Italian classics that piqued our interest including greens and beans but we were particularly eyeing the arancinis. Deep fried cheesy balls? Yes please. These were indulgent crispy bites of creamy arborio rice with ground meat and melty mix of mozzarella and romano. A side of sweet and tangy marinara complemented the flavors and textures very well. It's definitely a new favorite comfort food. Arancinis also come in a seafood version with salmon, shrimp, and green peas which is next on the to eat list. 






We came for the margherita pizza, also known as the Marisa, but our love of prosciutto gravitated us toward the Rusticana pie with asparagus, roasted red peppers, fresh garlic and basil, mozzarella, and normally portabello mushrooms but because J is anti-mushrooms, ours was fungus free. Both pizzas had an amazingly thin and crispy crust. Despite all the ingredients, the pies held together very well with a flavorful balanced pairing of ingredients. The sauce was right up my alley; bright and sweet and lightly applied. The classic fresh tomatoes (albeit off season and not as ripe), basil, and mozzarella on the Marisa was very reminiscent of Pasquale's, from what I could remember, and remains a top favorite pizza combo.

The difference between a hot and fresh and delivered pie is night and day. I can see how the mozzarella might not have traveled well to TOP and got a bit tough with cooling. Because when served fresh, a cheesy slice pulls away beautifully with that stringy and melty stretch that we all love. Our particular neighborhood here in Albany is a pizza dead zone so t's nice to know a great pizza shop isn't too far away. Thanks to AOA for introducing us to one of our new favorite pizzas. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

fin your fishmonger

Happy Blogiversary! It's hard to believe that Chopsticks Optional is one year old. We've come a long way since our very first post about our favorite Capital Region sushi spots. How fitting that we would write about seafood again exactly one year to the date. Since J has developed quite the skill for shucking oysters, fin-your fishmonger has been our purveyors for the best fresh and sustainable seafood needs. 

We were hooked at first bite at the lobster roll taste off last summer. We've also had much success with take-home meals (they prep, you cook!), particularly a halibut with citrusy tomatoes and capers. Since Chef Katie does a great job of complementing flavors, we thought we'd give lunch a go at the Guilderland shop. The menu is available for takeout or eat-in with regular items like salmon burgers and crabcakes with rotating soups and weekend specials. The fridge and cases are usually stocked with various sides, seafood salads, and house-smoked fish too. But we've had our eye on the fish tacos for quite awhile now and couldn't pass up on that plus the day's fish fry special. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Our Favorite Capital Region Sushi Spots

The pressure of the inaugural blog post... Let's preface our first blog post with a disclaimer/introduction: J. and I are by no means culinary experts. We are merely foodies who enjoy tasty treats, love to dine out (even though we have a terrible streak of getting awful service), and we are fanatics of Food Network's Chopped and Restaurant Impossible. 

80% of our culinary escapades are to sushi joints. We crave it on a weekly basis and it's only a matter of time before we get mercury poisoning. Sushi isn't hard to find in Albany; the Capital Region is saturated with mediocre places. Hell, even Wal-Mart carries it, *cringe*. Amazing and quality sushi on the hand, can only be found at a handful of places. Here are our regular and favorite sushi spots: 

1. Sushi Tei (Guilderland): Blink and you can easily miss this small and pleasantly quiet and quaint place. It is hands down one of our favorite spaces for authentic and delicious Japanese food without the frills of loud weird techno music and glowing gaudiness (*cough* Sushi X, cough cough). Our go to here is a dinner box: your choice of two rolls, fruit, chef's choice of an appetizer (we've had gyoza or seaweed salad) and one of the reasons why we love the dinner box so much is a side of crab salad (crabmeat, panko crumbs, tobiko, and cucumber). Salmon here is top notch when at its peak of the season and one of our favorite appetizers is the tuna dumpling (crab salad wrapped with tuna sashimi) and the raw scallop sashimi, which comes with lemon slices and really elevates the flavor and sweetness of the scallops. Also, try the udon noodle soup at least once. All Over Albany has all the udon details here.

2. 
Mr. Fuji Sushi (Stuyvesant Plaza): We're always greeted with a smile and have never had bad service here. Our go to is the boat for two. That's right, a boat of sushi. Once in awhile we'll deviate and some stellar standouts include specials like the naruto roll (mixed fish rolled with cucumber instead of seaweed and rice); raw scallop sashimi; and jalapeno yellowtail. J is a fan of the salmon and I think Mr. Fuji hands down has the best white tuna sashimi. Mr. Fuji, whoever he is, also makes spicy rolls that are actually spicy and not too heavy on the sesame oil and breadcrumbs. 

3. Sake Cafe (Albany): We come here solely for the Crazy Couple Roll (a spicy tuna and spicy yellowtail roll) that no one else seems to make. Another favorite is an appetizer called Treasure Island (mixed fish in an avocado half with spicy and eel sauces). 

Honorable mentions: Sushi Thai Garden (Saratoga & Clifton Park) and Sushi Na Ra (Latham)

On the flop side, one of our worst sushi experiences have been at Sushi X (Latham). At first we were jaded by the "all you can eat" aspect of it. Each time we went back, service was worse and worse (i.e. took 15-20 mins for first round of food to come, long time to get our check, waiter forgetting our drink order) and so was the quality of the fish. It lacked flavor and full of fillers like breadcrumbs and too much rice to fish ratio. We kept going back hoping things would get better but the last time we went, the waft of stinky fish odor that greeted us as we walked in the door was a definite sign for us to never come back.

So we're curious, what are some of your favorite Capital Region sushi joints? 

Happy sushi eatings, 
J & R