Arby’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell. When you’re shopping and hunger strikes, fast food fills the tummy but has no soul.
For shopping food made with love, you gotta go to the Adirondack Outlet Mall in Queensbury.
At Sammy D’s Cafe, next to the Eddie Bauer store, Dan DeCesare, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is the chef and creator of the menu. Salads are built with romaine and spinach; caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella and a balsamic pesto dressing are tucked inside a Caprese Melt sandwich.
“We’re not your average mall fare,” says Christine DeCesare, Chef Dan’s spouse and business partner. “Everything is handmade and made to order for you. We make our own breads, roast our own meats, make our own pizza dough and sauce and all of our own baked goods.”
I stumbled upon Sammy D’s while on a mission to buy shoes at the Easy Spirit Outlet. These annual expeditions usually take two hours, as I stick my tootsies into more than two dozen pairs of shoes. I need real food for such an outing, so Sammy’s was my first stop.
My chicken pesto sandwich on a whole wheat bulkie roll was so tasty, I ate half and wrapped the other to take home so I could savor the flavor.
Sammy D’s operates from behind a long counter and there is no table service, but there’s a dining area with several tables and Wi-Fi, and eat-in orders are served on real plates not plastic foam or paper.
Shoppers can choose from 18 kinds of salads, wraps and sandwiches or you can build your own. It can be mind-boggling. For example, there are five kinds of mayo, including cranberry, horseradish and chipotle.
Sammy’s has a healthy vibe, with a long list of veggies, including broccoli, that can be added to your menu choice. Vegetarians can choose a hummus wrap or the aforementioned Caprese Melt. Kiddies can munch on baked, gluten-free chicken fingers. Sandwiches and wraps are served with Baked Lays or Sun Chips.
Craving something cool and sweet?
In the summer, the busiest shopping season at the Lake George outlets, the DeCesares make ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Cookies and brownies are baked, meats are roasted, in a room behind the counter.
“Everything is done in the pizza oven,” Christine explains.
Did we mention pizza?
At Sammy’s, you can get a slice or an 18-inch pie, made with a recipe that was in Chef Dan’s family before there was a Northway or outlet malls.
“The family recipe is his grandfather’s, who is known to all as Papa DeCesare,” says Christine.
Papa is the guy who started DeCesare’s Pizzeria on Route 9 in Schroon Lake, an Adirondack-style restaurant with wooden booths.
Three years ago, when Christine and Dan opened their cafe, which is also on Route 9, about 35 miles south of the pizzeria, they named it after their first-born, a son named Salmon, who they call “Sammy.” Three-year-old Sammy now has a 2-year-old sister, Lily.
Although I didn’t get to meet Chef Dan when I was shoe shopping, Christine told me about her husband in an email.
“His passions are cooking, mining Herkimer diamonds and fishing,” she wrote.
Believe it or not, at Sammy D’s, you can buy a Herkimer Diamond.
You won’t find those gems — or homemade balsamic pesto dressing — at Wendy’s, Taco Bell or Arby’s.