The other night we checked out MezzeNotte Ristorante in Guilderland. We sampled some very tasty risotto balls from there at the Albany Wine & Dine for the Arts. Also, my husband took a class from the chef at Different Drummer's Kitchen and really liked Mark Graham. So we decided to check it out.
I got the Caesar salad which I really liked because it had a strong lemony flavor. My husband got the Zuppa di Polpetti (meatball soup, with mushrooms, farro, cippolinis and spinach in a rich broth), which was deeply flavorful and really satisfying. For my entree I had Lasagna "Matta" - free formed lasagna tossed with Chef's three meat Bolognese, which I really, really loved. It was a pretty big portion, and Scott helped me, but we definitely polished off the whole thing. It is a world of difference between this fresh conventional pasta and dried pasta.. Also, when I went to the bathroom you could really smell either fresh pasta or bread coming out of the kitchen and it was way more appetizing then say going to the bathroom at Chili's where you can glimpse lettuce and other debris all over the floor of the kitchen on your way to the bathroom. Scott got the fish special. It reminded me of something you could normally get as a special at Provence. I think it was a rainbow trout, and it was incredibly moist.
For wine, we just ordered by the glass. I got a glass of the Hanging Vine Pinot Noir from St. Helena (I'll always have a soft spot for that area since that is where we went for our honeymoon). I really enjoyed it as it was very full flavored. Scott got a glass of the Donnafugata, "Anthilia", Sicilia. It was a great pairing for the fish special and very crisp and delicious.
We got the limoncello parfait for dessert. I am a huge fan of limoncello, and I almost always go for a sour dessert rather than a super sweet one. It was not a huge portion, and was a great way to shift gears and be off on our way.
We chatted with the chef for a while. He is super nice. Scott and Mark talked about the pasta class he taught. We also discussed different philosophies on Valentine's Day. He said he doesn't understand people wanting to go out on Valentine's Day - that you go through this huge romantic dinner and then you have to get up and drive home "What a buzzkill!" he said. Then he decided to show us his Valentine's menu that had all kinds of scribbles and edits on it. It had some great looking things on it like a lamb shank dish and all kinds of little helpful romantic pointers. Did you know fennel is an aphrodisiac? He said "Uh yeah - just thought I'd throw that out there...." Mark Graham seemed quite the charmer.
On our way out to the car, the word that came to my mind was "craftsmanship". That fresh pasta was really the reason to go. The fish special was very fresh tasting and seemed kind of innovative, but the fresh pasta is really something you cannot get everywhere. Of course one place you can get fresh pasta is Cafe Capriccio. We had a discussion as to how MezzeNotte compares to Cafe Capriccio. Scott said that probably Capriccio is better, and I said they are probably hard to compare. To me they are different, and the historical feel of Capriccio is part of the charm. To me MezzeNotte feels similar to Provence in spirit - fresh, new school, just very, very well done. Anyways, we may add this to our repertoire, and we would probably never have tried it had we not found out about it at the Albany Wine & Dine for the Arts and the Different Drummer's Kitchen class.