At the Table: Sicilian Pizzeria in Schenectady delivers on quick, comfort food

The small Sicilian Pizzeria offers a big menu, with more than 150 individual items. Inset, margarita pizza. Photo by Beverly M. Elander

The small Sicilian Pizzeria offers a big menu, with more than 150 individual items. Inset, margarita pizza. Photo by Beverly M. Elander

“Have you ever visited Sicilian Pizzeria on Van Vranken Avenue?” Good Friend inquired. “I have not,” I replied almost apologetically. I say “apologetically” because the pizzeria is close enough to walk to.

Sicilian Pizzeria exemplifies the well-worn saying that good things come in small packages. A small space with only a couple of tables, its menu boasts 16 categories with more than 150 individual items. The restaurant’s website boasts that all items are made in-house with fresh ingredients.

I love reading menus. It’s like enjoying a good novel with lots of characters but not much plot. With an emphasis on Italian and Greek dishes, the pizzeria’s menu also offers American actors such as burgers, wings and seafood.

Given the name “Sicilian Pizzeria,” I felt obligated to order pizza. Good Guest shared my enthusiasm for pizza. At Sicilian, pizza can be mixed and matched by size, shape and ingredients. One can order in sizes from 4- to 24-cut ($6.99 to $19.99) with 20 different toppings. Total price varies with size and number/kinds of toppings.

I was certain that Hawaiian pizza ($13.99/6-cut round) was sold only on the West Coast. Donning his florid floral shirt, Guest enjoyed immensely the pizza, which was loaded with mozzarella, ham and pineapple.

If you read my restaurant reviews with any regularity, you are aware that I gravitate to the more moderate end of the culinary spectrum. Labeled “New!” on the menu was my all-time favorite, margarita pizza ($13.99/6-cut). Sicilian Pizza did not skip on any of the listed ingredients — fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh basil. While the use of whole basil leaves on a background of red and white is artistic, cutting them into smaller pieces (but not shredded) before baking makes the pizza easier to eat.

The crust was a little on the spongy side but the edges were golden, crispy and slightly chewy. One of my guilty pleasures is to butter the outer crust of the pizza and eat it like a long narrow slice of bread. The pizza at Sicilian Pizzeria was perfect for practicing this travesty of culinary etiquette.

I like to add an appetizer, dessert or other dish to my tasting scheme in order to sample a range of foods offered by the restaurant. Guest requested an order of steak quesadillas ($7.99) to fulfill his culinary obligation.

For a reasonable price, the four triangles were filled with steak, onions, peppers and cheese. Small paper cups of sour cream and a very spicy salsa accompanied the quesadillas for an extra kick, although Guest reported that the thinly sliced tender steak was flavorful on its own.

Commenting on the meat, he said that it had the texture and flavor of real steak and not hamburger.

Mama always said, “It is a dull day you don’t learn something new.” Twice now I have been disappointed to have been served “lamb kebobs” in the form of lamb patties. They were fine-tasting, but not the chunks of grilled lamb on a skewer I expected.

It happened again. I ordered Lamb Gyro Kabobs over Rice ($10.99), but received thin, hamburger-like patties over rice. No chunks of meat, no skewers. But both rice and meat were beautifully seasoned, and the accompanying sauces (tzatziki and hot) were unnecessary. Except for the accompanying thinly sliced red tomatoes on top of the small salad (they had aged to a soft pink translucency), the greens and bright purple onion rings were fresh.

Dedicated Guest/Courier described the interior of the pizzeria as mostly white and very bright with walls papered with large replicas of the menu.

He said there were never more than three customers and two employees at a time in the small restaurant.

One element of safety is efficiency. The items we ordered were ready for takeout in less than 20 minutes. Sicilian Pizzeria is a good model of the application of COVID-19 protocols.

Sicilian Pizzeria

WHERE: 1505 Van Vranken Ave., Schenectady, 12308; (518) 374-0185;; Facebook

WHEN: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m, Friday-Saturday 11 a.m-12 a.m.

HOW MUCH: $50.74 with tax but without tip

MORE INFO: Adjacent parking lot and street parking, handicapped accessible, credit cards for $10 minimum, delivery for $15 minimum, online ordering, printed menu included several coupons for food and beverage combinations.

Categories: Food, Schenectady County, The Daily Gazette

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