Change comes slowly to Verdile’s, and that’s just how they like it. Established in 1943 by the Verdile family, the restaurant moved to its current location in 1951 and is in its third generation. It’s old-school dining, with unfailingly polite and professional staff. Someone who dined there in 1965 would probably still feel at home there today.
Dinner at Verdile’s is a night out. They do ceremony charmingly well — not fancy, but very well-behaved. The waiters wear a modified tuxedo with short black coat, white shirt and black bow tie. At Christmastime the bow tie is red. The restaurant is exuberantly decorated for the season, which ever may it be.
You walk through a narrow hallway into the foyer of the restaurant, with hostess stand on one side and deep coat racks on the other. Straight ahead is the bar, with lots of tables for two or four, and plenty of seating at the bar. Have a cocktail while you wait for your table.
There’s guaranteed to be a crowd on the weekend, but service is snappy and there are freshly made garlic knots with anchovy and skinny slices of garlicky white pizza to keep your appetite at bay.
The main dining room has cushy booths along two walls and a banquette across the front. It’s family-friendly; I’ve often seen large happy groups of all ages at clumps of tables pushed together. Seating arrangements can be changed in a snap. And no one clears tables faster than the staff at Verdile’s.
Prices are moderate. Chicken Parm, with Bella Napoli bread and a side of pasta, is $16.50. Fettuccini and spaghetti are made on premises. Pasta with meatballs is $9.25. A half-dozen each of chicken and veal dishes includes Marsala, scallopini and Parmesan. There’s a porterhouse pork chop and two steaks. Seafood choices include scampi, broiled scallops, haddock.
Then there are the rotating specialties, like fried oysters, surf and turf combos, fried clams, braciole.
Service is crisp and precise. Everything proceeds in the correct order: drinks, bread, appetizer or first course, entree, dessert, with hardly a hiccup. For large parties, everyone’s meal comes at the same time on a trolley.
WHERE: 572 Second Ave., Troy, 235-8879, www.verdile.com
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas day
HOW MUCH: $64.38
MORE INFO: Verdile’s does not accept reservations. Children’s menu. Wheelchair accessible. Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover, Dine
The bread comes out right away with the water. Mom and I ordered garlic bread ($3.50) for research purposes and found it good, oiled and seasoned on two sides and grilled. “You can make croutons out of that,” said Mom, looking at leftovers.
I liked the uniformity of the minestrone soup, with all ingredients about the same size: kidney beans, carrot, tomato, garbanzo beans, ditalini pasta and a few big pieces of onion floating around the rich tomato broth. It was even better with a shake of grated cheese on top. I’ll definitely order a bowl of it next time I go.
The salad for one ($7.25) is enough for two. Mom’s salad had a thick layer of fine blue cheese crumbles over the mix of Romaine, iceberg and baby greens. The tomato was respectably red, the cucumber attractively peeled and there were lots of black olives. It’s more a meal than a side salad. It’s very good, but it’s hard to cut the lettuce in the tippy plastic bowl.
Mom ordered the Veal Cutlet a la Verdile, breaded and fried, with a slice of lemon. She approved of the perfectly seasoned breading and the flavor of the cooking oil. She chose french fries and Italian greens for her sides, and was delighted with the sautéed greens.
“I could put this over pasta and make a meal,” she said to the like-minded waiter who was nodding his head.
“Escarole,” he said. “It’s not too bitter.” The fries were the skinny kind, but fresh and hot.
I ordered the Chicken Marano ($17.25) because it came on a bed of fresh asparagus, just right for spring. The dish is topped with chopped fresh tomato and capers, which I generally try to ignore. But there was no ignoring the multitude of dainty capers showered over my freshly fried chicken fillets, and there was plenty of liquid from the jar along with them.
The vinegar flavor was front and center, and it was making the lovely crispy batter soggy. But my caper-loving Mom said it was just right. The waiter agreed.
The chicken was pounded flat and was nice and juicy, and I loved the golden breading. The asparagus spears were a mixed bag, some of them a bit tough and some just right, but they were cooked to a delightful bright spring green.
Verdile’s homemade desserts cover the expected ground: carrot cake, ice cream, chocolate dessert, rice pudding and a few more. The carrot cake sounded good ($6.25 for a huge slice) and the waiter told us it was plenty for two people.
Their frosting is made with buttermilk instead of cream cheese, and it delivers a bit of the tang you’d get with the cream cheese. It was very sweet, and didn’t have the body of cream cheese frosting, but it was a good substitute.
I could see carrots, raisins, and pieces of walnut and, I think, pineapple — enough fruit to keep the cake moist. Not too much cinnamon, and just the right amount of frosting, a good half-inch outside and between the two layers. It’s an enormous slice, enough for four, but leftover carrot cake is just the thing for breakfast with a cup of tea.
Our waiter packed up our leftovers and presented them in convenient shopping bags. The total for our meal, with tax and tip, came to $64.38. I was pleased with the meal, Mom was thrilled. Verdile’s food and service is consistently good, and prices are reasonable. You’ll feel at home there today, whether or not you were there in 1965.