Mezza Notte (2026 Western Ave. in Guilderland) is a restaurant where I’ve had a number of good experiences. It’s been about three years since my last trip, and, from what I hear, much has changed since then. For one thing, Chef Elliot Cunniff, who has worked his way up to executive chef status at various high profile restaurants in the area and who was also nominated “Rising star chef” for 2012’s Wine and Dine for the Arts Festival, now runs the kitchen at Mezza Notte.
It’s been far too long since the last visit, so I made a reservation. When we arrived at 7pm for our reservation, tables needed to be turned before we were seated. The staff in the front were super nice and even greeted us with “buona sera,” which means “good evening” in Italian. After about 15 minutes, we were seated in a nice booth toward the front of the building. We got a good view of the kitchen from there.
Our waiter was very friendly. When going over the menu, he tried like hell to sell us on their calamari, saying it was the best in the area. I’ve had experiences where such proclamations led to frustration, so I went with my cravings upon seeing the starters and ordered the gorgonzola chips (“Saratoga” potato chips layered with creamy Gorgonzola cheese – $7).
While there’s little to comment on technically, the chips were delicious. The gorgonzola cheese was nicely melted into a sauce in some areas and was slightly amorphous chunks in others. It was a healthy amount of strong gorgonzola cheese, but I’m sure some would argue it’s not enough. Not me, man. Not me.
For a more elaborate “secondo”, I tried the lobster pappardelle (ribbon pasta with fresh Maine lobster in a lobster cream sauce -$15).
This was a strong dish. There was a good amount of lobster claw and tail meat tossed throughout, and the lobster cream sauce was nicely balanced, seasoned, and integrated into the pasta. The pasta itself was nicely cooked, although there were some areas where the pasta was raw because multiple strands had stuck together during cooking. (I don’t believe these pappardelle were freshly made in house, but I could be wrong.)
For dinner, I had the saltimboca ‘Romano’ (veal cutlets topped with prosciutto & sage – $22).
This was a fine plate aside from the underseasoned mashed potatoes. The spinach served alongside the potatoes were very good. The veal itself was overcooked (not by much), but the sauce was very pleasant, and everything went nicely together.
For dessert, I tried their tiramisu. As you know, I’m a bit of a stickler for tiramisu.
The portion was (I hope) intended for sharing; this was more apparent when we received the bill and its price was listed as $11. That’s a lot of dessert for even this person who loves dessert.
I liked that the lady fingers were barely grazed in espresso; they could have used a hair more of a soak because the cookies didn’t pick up much flavor from the coffee. The cream itself was very nice and clearly not thinned out with whipped cream as so many places tend to do. It’s exactly what tiramisu cream should be. The garnish was the most outstanding; there were some chocolate covered espresso beans and some espresso infused chocolate syrup decorating the dessert. Again, I would have liked a bit more espresso in the dessert rather than on top, but it was decent.
My meal was rather enjoyable from start to finish. There were strengths to all of the dishes, and the ambiance is very nice. There aren’t many other good Italian-style restaurants on that end of town.