I love all kinds of food but if I had to pick my favorite kind of food of all time, it would have to be Italian. That’s either because I’m from Schenectady and it seems as if everyone around me is Italian or maybe because even though I’m not Italian, my Grandmother cooked some of the best Italian food in the whole world. So when Il Faro Restaurant & Bar (698 N Pearl St, Menands) reached out to me, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try an Italian restaurant I hadn’t been to before.
Il Faro meets “The Lighthouse,” and their hope was for their restaurant to be a lighthouse in the neighborhood. A place that calls out to you, for everyone to meet and lose the stresses of the day. A meal isn’t just food, it’s a feeling and I think they portray that very well in the environment they’ve created.
Before I even get to my dinner experience, if you don’t follow @ilFaroRestaurantAndBar on Instagram, you’re missing out. They not only feature some of their specials that night or events at their restaurant but also great things to experience in their surrounding area. It’s a 518 must-follow!
To start my meal, I had a drink called “The Chef,” with Bulleit bourbon, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar & ginger ale. Sounds crazy, right? That’s why I had to order it! I’ve never had balsamic vinegar in a drink before but it really enhanced the flavor of the bourbon. Apparently Chef had a drink in NYC that included balsamic vinegar and knew he had to bring it to Il Faro- I’m glad they did!
From what I’ve heard, the rice balls here are amazing! They’ll have to wait until next time because I figured it wouldn’t be right of me to not start off my meal at an Italian restaurant with an Antipasto. I ordered the “Freddo (cold)” over the “Caldo (hot)” but both are available. Chef decided on olives, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichokes and stuffed peppers for our first course. Sometimes antipasti tends to be ignored in some Italian restaurants I’ve been to, to just give you food to eat while you’re waiting for the main course, the star. That was not the case here. The flavors were so fresh and paired so well together, I couldn’t give up the plate until we ate the whole thing!
For dinner, my boyfriend ordered Penne Vodka, described on the menu as fresh penne cooked in-house vodka cream red sauce with grated cheese ($14) & I ordered the Melanzana Parmigiano (Eggplant Parm) sliced eggplant breaded with house bread crumbs, fried, then baked with house red sauce, parmesan and mozzarella served with the daily pasta ($17). This may sound weird but it’s a good thing, I promise- between the vodka sauce and the house red sauce I could’ve bathed in them. Sauce is so important when eating Italian food, some are too sweet, some have no flavor, but this house red was amazing. The perfect balance of tomato and garlic with a perfectly cooked eggplant, not too soggy, not overly crunchy but with a perfect crust on the outside of each piece. I’m also glad I decided to get a meatball. Again, the flavor could punch you in the face. They didn’t fall apart into mush in the sauce but complimented the flavors and textures. I was so happy I ended up with leftovers, even though they didn’t last very long.
Last, for dessert, I couldn’t help myself when I saw tartufo on the menu, seasonal flavors of gelato covered in a hard chocolate shell with a maraschino cherry topped with whipped cream ($7). You know those hard shell dips you get at ice cream stands? Imagine that with much better ice cream and a thicker shell of some of the best tasting chocolate with a cherry in the middle. That’s tartufo and ordering it at Il Faro made me so happy.
Overall, I really enjoyed my meal. Where this restaurant is, I tend to not go very often and I’ve obviously been missing out. Even looking at the rest of their menu, I see so many other things I’ve missed out on and need to try. Want some of their food but can’t sit for dinner, they have the option to pick up dinner for 4. Pollo Parmigiano ($30), Penne Vodka ($25), or Spaghetti & Meatballs ($30), they just ask you please call before 5 and schedule pick up between 5 and 7. I can’t wait to have my next meal there, hopefully I’ll see you there too!
NOTE: Though my meal was given to me for no charge in order to write this post, the opinions expressed here are solely my own and I was not compensated additionally for it.