SOUTH GLENS FALLS — You can’t go home again, but you can go back to Massie’s.
Whenever we’d drive by Massie’s restaurant on Route 9 in South Glens Falls, husband Eric would reminisce about going there to eat with his family during the few years they lived in Chestertown. His brother remembers celebrating birthdays there.
“I always got the spaghetti with meat sauce,” Eric would say.
That was in the 1960s, and Massie’s wasn’t even close to being new. The Russo family opened the restaurant in 1929 and operated it until 2016, when it was sold to Jonathan Greenwood, who has kept the spirit going. Spaghetti and meat sauce is still on the menu, but the restaurant has undergone numerous updates.
Eric doesn’t remember the murals of local landmarks on the walls of the old dining room, but when Greenwood renovated he had them photographed, printed and framed for the newly refurbished dining room. It’s a thoughtful nod to the restaurant’s venerable history.
We were glad we’d made a reservation on a weekend night. The hostess directed us left, to the dining room. The bar is to the right. There are booths in an additional dining area in the corridor near the kitchen.
Our wood-topped table was in the middle of the large room, with a banquette along one side. The walls are tomato-sauce red, and beige with white trim. It’s very fresh and clean-looking; the carpet tiles have the advantage of being replaceable when stained.
Massie’s owes some success to its uncluttered Italian menu boosted by American-style entrees, sandwiches and burgers. There’s something for everyone and the prices are friendly. Chicken Parm is $15; a burger with fries is $10.50. If you want to splash some money around you can order surf and turf ($43), but most entrees are under $20, many well under.
Standards such as clams casino ($11.50) and chicken liver pate live on at Massie’s. You can even get a wonderful old-school relish tray ($8.50).
Instead of root beer, this time Eric enjoyed an excellent Beefeater martini and I had a glass of chilly Sauvignon Blanc. Massie’s gets points for their table bread: It’s seasoned and grilled, and quite delicious.
“You can taste the flavor all the way through,” observed Eric.
The fried calamari ($11) was for Eric, who loved their cherry pepper mayonnaise with its bit of heat. I preferred the chunky, bright and fresh-tasting marinara. While Eric thinks calamari is “always chewy,” he thought Massie’s version was “pretty tender.” We both liked the crisp, light coating and sliced green onions sprinkled over. “Boy, was that good,” said Eric.
I was very pleased with the very fresh house salad with grape tomatoes, red onion and fancy sliced cucumber, ($3.50) and their light homemade Italian dressing.
The moment of truth arrived when our nice server placed a deep bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce ($10.50) in front of Eric. He immediately covered it with grated cheese. “It’s real meat sauce, not a lot of tomato flavor,” he said after a tentative bite. As he dug further into the dish he was more impressed. “Wow,” he said. “It’s pretty darn good.”
The verdict: “If I was still 12 I’d order it.” His palate has grown a bit more sophisticated since then.
The next day I enjoyed the leftovers, with the soft chunks of ground beef, and compared it to my own recent version. Theirs had better flavor and more tender meat.
I ordered steak at an Italian restaurant, breaking a cardinal reviewing rule. But this steak was famous. It was Massie’s Famous Steak Sandwich ($26). Had it been on the menu long? I asked the server. “Decades,” she replied, rolling her eyes to the ceiling. That made it OK.
This dish has probably evolved, but big points to the current version, with an excellent New York strip steak that had flavor galore and sported expertly executed grill marks. This steak was well marbled, giving extra boosts of beefy good flavor. Beef prices are up, so the quality of the steak at that price was impressive.
I’d normally ignore toast points, but the triangles of sandwich-style bread were generously buttered and soaked up some of the drippings from the steak. They were decadent, juicy, delicious.
The rule is well worth breaking here: Steak at Massie’s is a definite go.
The dish comes with a side of hand-cut fries or spaghetti. I preferred their marinara to their tomato sauce, but it did the job.
Massie’s doesn’t make their own desserts, so we passed. But everything else they are doing is working just fine, so the heck with the homemade desserts. Just keep doing what you’re doing, as my mother would say.
The tab for the food came to $51 before tax and tip. With drinks and generous tip, which is the norm these days, it was almost double.
We left Massie’s, past all the people waiting for a table, laden with leftovers and so glad we took the trip down memory lane. Massie’s and Eric are aging, both of them gracefully.
WHERE: 69 Main St., South Glens Falls; (518) 792-3383;www.massiesrestaurant.com.
WHEN: 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
HOW MUCH: $51 for food, before tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover. Wheelchair accessible. Parking lot across the street; there is a crosswalk but use caution crossing Route 9.