Marcella’s: Nothing fancy, everything good

There aren’t many places around like Marcella’s on Saratoga Road in Glenville anymore: Italian-style
Lasagna bisque at Marcella's Family Restaurant (Caroline Lee photo)
Lasagna bisque at Marcella's Family Restaurant (Caroline Lee photo)

Categories: Food

There aren’t many places around like Marcella’s on Saratoga Road in Glenville anymore: Italian-style, family-owned and genuine. The engaging small restaurant that’s open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner offers nothing fancy but everything good.

Marcella’s is hunkered down for winter, its picnic tables forlorn, patio chairs stacked and light strings dark, but inside the dining room all is cozy, with seasonal tablecloths on glass-topped tables, an artist busy painting an Alpine scene with bristly spruces on the mirrored wall opposite blue-curtained patio windows. Tables for four line the narrow room. On the other side of the building, there’s pizza and take-out, with specials like a bucket of pasta with eight sausages or meatballs and garlic bread for $16.99.

Marcella’s Family Restaurant

WHERE: 517 Saratoga Road, Glenville, 399-1901,

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

HOW MUCH: $16.98

MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. Not wheelchair accessible.

We were invited to sit anywhere, and ordered diet sodas. “I could eat here all the time and not get the same thing,” Mom said of the menu. Appetizers include bruschetta, calamari and garlic bread in addition to wings and fried stuff. There are meal-sized salads, wraps and cold sandwiches, and hot sandwiches like meatloaf, and eggplant, meatball, chicken and steak Parmesan. Thick or thin pizza comes in cuts from four to 24. Marcella’s is one of the few restaurants that still has calzones and stromboli on the menu.

A full menu of entrees includes lasagna, every kind of Parmesan, pasta dishes with house sauce, garlic and oil, pesto. Add to that meatloaf, clam strips, and fresh haddock and you’ll have a hard time choosing dinner. Entrees come with soup or salad and garlic bread. Chicken Parm is $14.99, except Tuesdays, when it’s $9.99 to go.

Square ice cubes clattered into a plastic cup, and our sodas appeared shortly after. The choice of the day’s homemade soups was jaw-dropping in scope and imagination: Italian wedding, creamed onion with cheddar, minaste (ham and cabbage), and lasagna bisque. “I could have taken any one of them,” said Mom, as I was trying to imagine lasagna bisque. I couldn’t, so I ordered it, as part of the lunch special of soup and half a cold sub for $6.49.

“It’s not quite a soup, and it’s more liquid than a casserole,” said Mom, eyeballing it as I passed it over. Narrow strips of pasta overflowed the cup, along with bits of beef and sweet sausage in a thick tomato base that tasted like ricotta. It smelled like SpaghettiOs. It tasted like lasagna. An Internet search yielded nothing remotely like it, so if you want it you have to go to Marcella’s. We loved it.

I chose half a pepperoni and provolone sub to accompany my soup, and I wasn’t sorry. It had a few perfect slices of creamy Provolone and spicy pepperoni that were flavorful enough to carry the sandwich. Lettuce, tomato, red onion and delicious homemade Italian dressing accompanied, all on a tasty roll from Fiorello’s bakery in Albany.

The fish filet submarine ($8.99) was stupefying, a oversized plank of hand-breaded haddock fillet sliced on the diagonal that was unsuccessfully stuffed into an immense crusty roll with chopped lettuce, tomato, and red onion, and served with tartar sauce. “The breading is crispy and crunchy,” said Mom, “It’s tasty and fresh, and out of this world,” she added.

We both loved the fries (small, $1.50) that came straight from the fryer into the paper-lined plastic basket. The most golden I’ve seen, they were crispy outside, and within, pure mashed potato. Delicious.

Our server was helpful and friendly, and we didn’t get rushed. The dining room casual and comfortable. We got boxes for our leftovers and the check, which came to $16.98 for the food.

No one is going to open a restaurant like Marcella’s anymore, which is a shame, but patronizing them will guarantee they’ll be there when you want a calzone or some lasagna bisque.

“If I lived nearby, I’d be here all the time,” said Mom, and I would, too.

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