While I enjoy a good sandwich, having worked in the deli for so long, I seldom get in the mood to have one when looking for dining options. There are rare occasions where I can’t get the idea of a turkey breast hero out of my head. For one such time, I decided to finally stop in to Via Fresca, one of the few places that is actually within a reasonable distance from work.
Via Fresca is located at 1666 Western Avenue in what they technically call Albany. Guilderland, Westmere. Who cares what they call it? Just look it up on a map. Now seeing their website, it says they “specialize in fine Italian gourmet food.” I did not actually know this before I went.
As I entered, one of the guys behind the sandwich counter “threw it up,” and that’s, of course, because I was wearing my nWo t-shirt. We chatted for a few minutes about how amazing the nWo was back in the day. I don’t care; I’ll still carry the torch.
Anyway, I had no idea what to order, so I took a second to browse the menu and the case to find some things.
There were a few things I wanted in addition to a turkey sub, so I had a pretty big spread.
On the right, under the white cover was a rice ball. Whenever I see them around, I have to try them. They split it in order to heat it in a toaster oven. I think it was two bucks for a small one; why not?
As you can tell from the image, they mix the cheese and meat and some tomato sauce into the rice before breading and frying them. This was pretty good. The rice was a little on the mushy side, but what do you want for something that has been cooked three times?
The turkey sub I settled on was made with Boars Head Smoked Honey Turkey and came with cheddar cheese and cranberry mayo ($7.59); I had lettuce and onions on the sandwich. I got a bag of brilliant rosemary and olive oil chips (which I had never actually tried before) to go along with it.
The one thing I always do before I bite into a sub is take a look at the cross-sectional distribution across the middle of the sandwich.
This is how I set my expectations for eating the sub. First of all, from the overhang on the side, you can see that the turkey is sliced thinly, just above shaved; this is vital in a decent sandwich. The cranberry mayo was applied to both sides of the sandwich, ensuring that whatever was on top and on the bottom would stay together after a bite. The cheese looks like it was sliced a little thick, but the amount of lettuce and onion looked about right.
The only thing that I was really worried about was the bread.
So, after eating the sandwich, I can say that it was pretty damn good. The bread was definitely the weak point of the sandwich. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely had that supermarket bread feel to it. Believe me, there are places around using worse bread. What I did like about the bread was that it was able to contain the fillings of the sub nicely. Wrapping it in the manner in which they did is actually essential in forming the sandwich; once it was formed, nothing slid around as you took bites. (I hate that!)
I can’t dissect too much about Boars Head turkey or cheddar cheese, but everything worked together. The cranberry mayo provided some additional sweetness that subtly made this feel like Thanksgiving, very subtly. The lettuce and onion added the crunch you want when you bite into one of these.
I couldn’t resist their delicious, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, so I got one.
So while I waited for my order, I took a look at their rather light “Italian Specialties” offerings. They have a few things like olive oil and pantry staples that makes it convenient, but the things they have that is extra special are frozen Queen Ann ravioli and pasta products (gnocchi and cavatelli). It’s not the first time I’ve seen them this far north, but they’re special to me because it’s the brand that they sell in my father’s store (my dad actually drives down and picks them up, then they sell some fresh. A completely different ballgame!). If you drive by this place and want good ravioli, you must stop and pick up a box.
There is also a whole case with baked goods, various cookies and such, and they also have cookies. I think I saw some prepared dinners in the freezer as well.
Anyway, Via Fresca seems to have their craft down pretty well. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the food I had was good. Looking back at the menu, there are so many things I want to go back and try, and I guess it’s a good thing I live close by.