SCHENECTADY — The new incarnation of Morrette’s doesn’t disappoint. You can still get a Philly-style shaved beef sandwich on a soft roll with all the fixings, reminisce over photos of old Schenectady in its prime, and enjoy the familiar atmosphere.
Morrette’s was started in 1947 by Schenectady native Tony Morrette, who discovered the Philly steak sandwich while traveling and wanted to bring it to this area.
After many years of success, the business was sold to the Pasquariello family, who ran it until last year, when Frank and Kathleen Martin took it over. They painted, purchased new equipment, replaced carpet and floors but changed little. “We put a lot of effort into keeping it the same,” Kathy said.
The house specialty is the wafer-thin sliced ribeye steak sandwich, available in large (king $6.99) or smaller (queen $5.65) sizes, and now comes in chicken, too. Toppings, like cheese, peppers and onions, are extra.
Morrette’s King Steak House
WHERE: 1126 Erie Blvd., Schenectady, 370-0555, www.morrettes.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday
HOW MUCH: $27.71 before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Children’s menu. Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. Parking on street and in lot in rear.
There are subs with meatballs and sausage, onions and peppers (both $6.99). A half-pound, house-ground ribeye burger with lettuce, tomato and onion with a side of fries is $7.99.
Seafood is of the deep-fried variety: shrimp, fish and clams. The fryer gets a workout on the appetizers, too, wings, mozzarella sticks, mushrooms and chicken fingers. Meal-sized salads are available.
Morrette’s prices are within reach of most families who want a night out.
My friend Lisa was all for starting with the loaded king-sized Tater Tots ($6.99), which demonstrated Morrette’s strengths.
The deep-fried Tots were the crispest ever, the liquid cheese poured generously over, freshly cooked crisp bacon strewn on top. “I love Cheeze Wiz,” sighed Lisa. The Tots were still good even after cooling.
I liked the queen-sized beef sandwich very much. Shaved ribeye was piled on a delicious grilled and crispy Kaiser roll ($6.25) from Mont Pleasant Bakery. While the meat appeared dry, it wasn’t a bit and it had a strong, beefy flavor. A slice of melted American helped hold it together but the volume of meat required a fork.
Crispy roll, melty cheese and the beefy flavor made a winning combination. There’s no chewiness or gristle when the meat’s this thin to interfere with the enjoyment of your sandwich.
Lisa was thrilled with the piggy pup ($3.99), a fat, quarter-pound hot dog made of spicy beef topped with more Cheeze Wiz and bacon. Like the Tots, it’s served in a paper-lined plastic basket. She had to resort to knife and fork, which did nothing to lessen her enjoyment. “It’s super-good,” she said.
I liked the onion rings ($4.99) more than Lisa; they are thickly breaded and fried to a golden brown, with sweet sliced steamy onion within. They were even better with the spicy special house sauce that our server Leila recommended.
Ready for dessert
Having packed most of my meal, I was ready for dessert. Our server enthusiastically recommended the cherry pie from Mont Pleasant Bakery ($5.49).
That was good enough for us. We shared a hot slice, exuberantly topped with a twist of soft-serve vanilla ice cream and another of whipped cream, with an extra dollop for good measure. The filling was classic, with plenty of whole cherries in thick sauce and a flaky browned and delicious crust.
We enjoyed our meal and I felt I got the classic Morrette’s experience. While tasty, it’s not the kind of food I can eat every day. So I’ll go to Morrette’s for a special occasion. And Morrette’s will make it special.