“Go west, young woman,” the caravan leader advised me. So I Googled my way to Bosco’s Family Restaurant, a watering hole in Amsterdam. Sidekick Johnny Concho parked the buckboard in the lot across the street.
A modest structure on a city corner in northwest Amsterdam, Bosco’s welcomed us hungry travelers with large block red neon-lit letters shouting “OPEN.”
The deliveryperson who held the door open for me advised unprompted, “Best calzones anywhere.”
The hostess/bartender showed us to one of the seven tables past the bar on the right, handed us menus and took our drink orders. The menu was a relatively brief recitation of standard Italian dishes including pizza and calzones. Appetizers, salads and hot sandwiches accompanied complete dinners of veal, chicken, seafood and pasta. A few specials were posted, some of which were unavailable by the time we arrived.
Bosco’s advertising bills the restaurant as “Home of the Famous Calzone!” so naturally, we ordered a calzone to begin our meal. The envelope of stuffed baked dough was $9 for mozzarella and one item (from a list of about a dozen). Sauce and additional items (we chose ricotta and mushrooms) are $1 each. Although we ordered the calzone as an appetizer, foresighted server Emily told us it would take about as long as our dinners to prepare. We were fine with that and appreciated the heads-up.
We began with house-made soup (pasta fagioli for John, chicken with veggies for me) and house salads, emerald green with bursts of ruby tomatoes and amethyst onions. The small serving of Italian dressing in a cup required a squirt or two of olive oil to prevent it from shocking my esophagus. Salads were accompanied by two slices of fresh Italian bread.
The pie-sized calzone arrived tongue-scalding hot with enough melted mozzarella that a playful diner could (and did!) stretch a foot and twirl midair. Sauce, cheeses and crust melded into a rich and satisfying whole. The renowned dish could easily have served two hungry people as a meal. We had half of the creation wrapped to take home.
John’s tender whitefish ($13.95) was lightly breaded with seasoned crumbs, sautéed in butter and garnished with lemon, orange slices and sprigs of parsley. “Swimming in butter, but good,” was John’s terse evaluation.
My eggplant parmesan ($13.95) was a volcano of molten mozzarella and marinara, still bubbling when it arrived at the table. Small puddles of olive oil dotted the dish, making it sinfully rich and wickedly irresistible. If I had an Italian grandmother, I’m guessing it’s the way she would have made it.
Almost as an afterthought, Emily served us small oval dishes of al dente pasta with what appeared to be the same marinara used in other dishes. At Bosco’s, dinners are served with soup, bread, salad and pasta — a full dinner for a modest price.
Emily explained that the desserts were not made in-house. Nevertheless, we ordered the Italian lemon cake. It was a blend of sweet/tart lemon custard sandwiched between layers of yellow lemon cake and garnished with two squirts of real whipped cream propelled from a can. A touch of sweetness to end the meal.
I had hoped Bosco’s offered expresso, which would have been a perfect companion to the lemon cake. But alas, the restaurant served only American coffee.
A word about décor: If pressed, I could probably list a dozen Italian restaurants who used the same decorator. Carved out of the first floor of what was most likely at one time a two-family home, Bosco’s sported a narrow bar and a couple of areas delegated for dining. The rooms were on the dark side, with knotty pine wainscoting and a strip of jovial Italian waiters smiling above the wood. Contemporary music did not intrude on conversation. Tables were covered with oilcloth and paper placemats advertising local businesses. A row of highchairs were neatly stacked at the entrance to the dining room, attesting to the family part of its “family restaurant” designation. “Family” also described the owners. Like grandma’s kitchen, Bosco’s hasn’t changed much over the years — nor do you want it to.
As we alit into the still-sunny evening, another gentleman holding the door reminded me, “If you leave here hungry, something’s wrong.”
Bosco’s Family Restaurant
WHERE: 165 Division St.,
Amsterdam, 12012; (518)
WHEN: Mon.-Sat. 3-9:30 p.m., Sun 3-8:30 p.m., bar open daily
HOW MUCH: $48.40 with two nonalcoholic beverages and two coffees, but without tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Two parking lots, major credit cards accepted, noise level permits conversation, two small steps into
building, delivery (minimum
of $10, $2 charge in city, $3.50 out of city limits).