As New York’s COVID-19 reopening phases morph from one to the next, our favorite restaurants are being allowed to move indoors provided patrons wear masks, socially distance themselves and the occupancy at any time does not exceed 50 percent. (I playfully wonder to myself how I’ll manage chomping on a medium-rare burger through an N95 mask.)
This might be my last takeout review, although I confess to continue being nervous about going out in public.
I am often asked how I find restaurants to review. High Bridge Pizza was suggested to The Gazette by reader Bernadette, who wrote to tell us that the restaurant had recently changed hands, had been spruced up (“it looks nice, clean and festive”) and had the “best pizza.”
So after checking out their fairly extensive menu online and ordering, Loyal Guest drove to High Bridge Pizza, where he had a short wait to pick up the two bags of food and a pizza box paid for with a credit card. Though busy, the staff was courteous and helpful.
Guest felt that “Pizza” in the name of the restaurant obliged him to order pizza. Fond of vegetables, he ordered the Loaded Veggie Pizza, which was extravagantly topped with broccoli, peppers, onions, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, black olives, artichokes, tomatoes and fresh garlic ($19.75/8-cut). While cheese was not mentioned, I’m guessing it was their “three cheese blend” that held the vegetables together and kept them from slipping off the crust.
A word about the crust: It was a little soggier than we might have preferred, but I’m guessing the excess moisture was caused by the veggies themselves, which can contain upwards of 90 percent water. When reheated in a skillet with a dab of oil the next day, however, the crust was hot and crisp. Guest admitted he would order High Bridge’s pizza again, but would likely order a meat topping instead.
My antipasto salad ($6.75) was large enough for two people. The 8-inch round aluminum container was filled with their homemade giardiniera, artichokes, olives, salami, capicola, provolone cheese, tomatoes and Romaine lettuce. What appeared to be a home-baked roll with a pat of butter accompanied the salad. Both the appearance and quality of the salad were first-rate. I have read that prices at some establishments have (understandably) increased recently. The antipasto from High Bridge equaled three meals and would have been reasonably priced at twice what we paid.
While I was still marveling over the salad, I opened my eggplant parmesan ($9.95). A layer of breaded eggplant sat on a second layer of linguini, and both were topped with a generous serving of marinara. Once again, the entrée was ample enough to serve four people. Although I love “twirly” pasta, next time I would choose penne to accompany the eggplant. It was difficult to eat the linguini without having to cut it. The combination may not have been a good one for takeout. Perhaps separating the pasta from the eggplant (or chicken or veal) would have kept the dish from consolidating. But it in no way interfered with the flavor.
I rarely order dessert, which can melt or just doesn’t travel well with takeout. My order from High Bridge Pizza was an exception. Although Deep Fried Xango (pronounced “zango” — $4.95) may be served with ice cream or whipped cream, I dared to order one. It was described on the menu as a pastry (flour) tortilla filled with rich and creamy cheesecake layered with chunks of bananas, real-butter caramel and tossed in cinnamon. Despite the fact that the bananas were missing, the dessert was fabulous. It was firm enough to pick up with one’s fingers, but if one wanted to be proper, it could be eaten with a fork. Enjoyed with a strong steaming cup of espresso, this Mexican pastry would be a perfect finale to any meal.
As our total dependence on takeout in order to have a restaurant meal is winding down, I am anticipating a return to the dine-in experience we came to take for granted. Nevertheless, I applaud the creativity and perseverance of the restaurateurs in our area, and the willingness of their patrons to continue to support these establishments during these stressful times.
High Bridge Pizza
WHERE: 1262 Highbridge Road, Rotterdam, 12303; (518) 355-6520; www.highbridgepizza.com; Facebook
WHEN: Tuesday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight; Sunday noon-10 p.m.; Monday closed
HOW MUCH: $41.44 for one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert, without tax and tip
MORE INFO: Parking lot, accessible, credit cards, menu and ordering online, takeout ordered in advance.