Winter warmth on menu at Schenectady Soup Stroll

26 restaurants to compete Saturday for top honors
Abby Rockmacher ladles some cream of vegetable soup at The DillyBean on Jay Street.
Abby Rockmacher ladles some cream of vegetable soup at The DillyBean on Jay Street.

Soup’s on in downtown Schenectady this Saturday.

The Schenectady Soup Stroll, which goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., features soup samples from 26 participating restaurants. Each three-ounce sample is $1.

“Everybody loves soup and [the event] brings people together,” said Jim Salengo, the executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp., which organizes the event.

The Stroll became a tradition three years ago when local restaurants were looking for a way to shake things up during the frigid weeks between the holidays and Schenectady’s restaurant week, which usually takes place in February.

For Abby Rockmacher, the Stroll will be her first Saturday in business.

Rockmacher owns The DillyBean, a health food store focused on homemade goods. She first opened the Jasy Street shop on Thursday so she hopes Saturday’s Stroll will help get the word out about the shop. 

She’ll be serving up cream of vegetable soup, a vegan recipe made with coconut milk and gluten-free flour.

“I’ve attended the Soup Stroll in the past and I know how popular it is,” Rockmacher said.

Thousands of people have turned out for the event in years past, according to Salengo, with restaurants serving upwards up 2,000 samples throughout the Stroll.

Among the thousands of samplers, a team of five judges from Yelp Albany Elite Members will be in attendance. The group is comprised of frequent Yelp reviewers who are local and passionate about the community. They’ll taste test all the soup samples to decide upon the first, second and third place winners, as well as honorable mentions.

Aperitivo Bistro won first place, or the Golden Tureen, last year with a bacon butternut chowder. But this year, they’re staying closer to their Italian roots and serving up a portobello and white truffle zuppa topped with grissini, or slim breadsticks.

“It’s always fun to outdo what you did last year,” said Suzy Wenskoski, Apertivo’s general manager. As to whether or not the bistro thinks it’s got another shot at winning the Golden Tureen title, Wenskoski said: “We’re up for the challenge.”

Breweries like Great Flatts and Mad Jack Brew Pub at The Van Dyck are focused on what they know best: beer. Great Flatts is serving up a corned beef stew infused with beer. Mad Jack will be offering up a cheese soup with caramelized onions, beer, and bacon crumbles. Not to be out beered, Wolff’s Biergarten plans to serve a beer and cheese soup with bison chipotle sausage.

Maria’s Cafe and Catering is offering a shrimp bisque, a choice made by the customers as much as the owner.

“It’s my customers’ favorite and my favorite,” said Maria DeAngelo, who owns the Cafe.

Her shrimp bisque has a lot of competition for the Golden Tureen.

“We have a pretty good shot at winning,” said Dante Isopo of Isopo’s Downtown Pizza. Isopo’s will be serving up Italian wedding soup, a family recipe that dates back 50 years.

For a full list of soups, see below. For more information on the Stroll visit

Participating restaurants and their soups

  1. 20 North Broadway Tavern. Gumbo
  2. 151 Bar & Restaurant. New England Clam Chowder
  3. Aperitivo Bistro. Portobello & White Truffle Zuppa
  4. Backstage Pub & Grill. Tomato Bisque
  5. Bel Cibo: An American Bistro. Salsa Chicken Soup
  6. Bombers Burrito Bar. Chicken Tortilla Soup
  7. Centre Street: A Public House & Garden. Beef Stroganoff Stew
  8. Civitello’s Italian Pastry Shoppe. Pasta e Fagioli
  9. The DillyBean. Cream of Vegetable
  10. The Horses Lounge at Great Flats Brewing. Corned Beef Stew Infused with Beer
  11. Hunter’s On Jay. Angus Cheeseburger Soup
  12. Isopo’s Downtown Pizza. Italian Wedding Soup
  13. Johnny’s Restaurant. Lasagna Soup.
  14. Katie O’Byrne’s Restaurant. Reuben Chowder
  15. Mad Jack Brew Pub at The Van Dyck. Carmelized Onion, Beer & Cheese Soup with Bacon Crumbles
  16. Manhattan Exchange. Deconstructed Stuffed Pepper Soup
  17. Maria’s Cafe & Catering. Shrimp Bisque
  18. Mexican Radio. Tortilla Soup
  19. More Perreca’s Italian Kitchen. Smoked Bacon Minestrone
  20. Nico’s Rooftop Tavern. Beef Burgundy Soup
  21. Pho Queen. Tom Sab Thai Soup
  22. Pinhead Susan’s. Susie’s Loaded Chowder
  23. RARE Craft Steak & Cocktail House. Cheesy Steak & Bacon Craft Beer Soup
  24. Taj Mahal Restaurant. Tomato Soup
  25. Villa Italia Pasticceria. Wild Mushroom, Barley & Beef Consomme Soup
  26. Wolff’s Biergarten. Beer & Cheese Soup with Bison Chipotle Sausage

2017 Soup Stroll Judges’ Picks

  • Golden Tureen (1st Place): Aperitivo Bistro — Bacon Butternut Chowder
  • Silver Spoon (2nd Place): Backstage Pub & Grill — Tomato & Grilled Cheese Soup
  • Bronze Ladle (3rd Place): 151 Bar & Restaurant — New England Clam Chowder
  • Honorable Mention for Best Toppings: Marotta’s Bar-Risto & Tunnel Lounge (which is now  RARE Craft Steak and Cocktail House) — Tuscan Surf and Turf Chowder
  • Honorable Mention for “Like Momma Used To Make”: More Perreca’s Italian Kitchen — Italian Wedding Soup with Baby Meatballs

Categories: Food, Life and Arts


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