“There’s nothing more romantic than Italian food.”
I love being in Downtown Schenectady. Over the past couple years it’s really grown into a great place to spend any night of the week, especially in terms of the number of restaurants that have opened up down there. Most recently, Johnny’s (433 State St, Schenectady) opened in the bottom floor of Center City. If you’re familiar with Mallozzi’s Ballroom & Catering as well as Villa Italia then you know that the Mallozzi family not only knows how to run a business but they take the care and concern in each business to make it a diamond it its own right.
I first went to check out Johnny’s a few days before it opened to see the space, taste a few of the hors d’oeuvre and most importantly check out the bar service. The restaurant itself is beautiful. The dark wood on the walls, wine racks and tables really warm the entire place and pair really well with the earth-toned walls. All over the restaurant, you can see what look like chalkboards with recipes, lists of how to decipher between the different shapes of pasta, meats, cheeses and my favorite tells the dessert list. That theme is held throughout the entire restaurant area as well as the martini and draft list.
The bartenders are quick and very attentive to those sitting or standing at the bar. There are TVs but high enough so that if you want to watch a game you can but it’s not in the way if you’d rather talk to a friend or people watch for that matter. Johnny’s has a special, restaurant specific martini list that I assume will be fully utilized during Happy Hour. My first drink was a Double Chocolate Martini with Godiva Chocolate Vodka, Baileys and Chocolate Syrup. A drink with just chocolate and alcohol is as delicious as it sounds.
I also wanted to check out the crowd on Opening Night and tables were packed. We lucked out at sat at a two person bar table and still had wait service. We had already eaten dinner but couldn’t come and drink again, at the end of the day this is a restaurant as well. For an appetizer, we ordered the calamari.
The calamari was some of the best I’ve had in a while. Sometimes calamari can be too chewy and sometimes they’re not chewy enough and fall apart in your mouth but these were perfection. They gave us marinara sauce and a spice aioli that I may need to try to recreate at home. To go with it, I tried a glass (or two) of the house Cabernet Sauvignon which was also really good. As I’ve mentioned in posts before, I don’t do well with describing wine. I just know what tastes good and it tasted good. Then, instead of dinner, we jumped right to dessert- gelato cake.
I can’t even put into words how fantastic this was. They sell gelato cake at Villa Italia so if you’ve had it over there, this is the same thing and you understand what I mean when I say that this leaves me speechless. We had chocolate peanut butter ad I would pick this over a frozen Reese’s Cup any day of the week. You may think you would be able to eat this yourself, be cautious and share this because you can always order more. Not only is it a big slice but it’s dense and though you may not want to share it, especially if you’re eating it after dinner, your stomach will thank you.
I love this place. I love the feel of it, how close it is and I can see it as a perfect place to go for Happy Hour or for dinner before a show at Proctors.