This was another week of very good eating with the likes of the Crab cakes at The Acela Club at Citi Field and all the good food at the Slow Food Saratoga Labor Day Eat-In, a fine meal at Max London's and a marvelous steak dinner at a friend's home to finish the week, but ultimately I am a sucker for crustaceans, mollusks and pasta. The Seafood Fra Diavolo ($19) I had on Wednesday at Chef Adriano Dimario's Cafe Lazio in Queensbury, N.Y. was simply sensational, packed with littleneck clams from Maine, mussels from Prince Edward Island, calamari and shrimp from the Gulf. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with my that night (I did tweet and FB an i-phone photo, though) but the dish was so good, sweet, spicy and perfectly cooked, that I returned later in the week with my camera just to photograph it! That same Wednesday night meal also produced my runner-up taste of the week. Chef DiMario made the best cannolo that I have had in quite some time. The cannolo shell remained crisp as Chef DiMario stuffed it with his freshly made cannoli cream just prior to serving.
Chef Adriano DiMario of Queensbury's Cafe Lazio
Chef Adriano DiMario, who has been cooking professionally for roughly 40 years, considers himself "retired" while cooking at his intimate little restaurant. Only open for lunch and dinner from Monday through Friday, Chef DiMario cooks what he wants focusing on Italian and Italian-American classics and some of his own "special" creations, all done with skill, knowledge, heart and generosity. DiMario's early cooking days started in his native country of Italy. When he came to North America, he initially moved to Mexico, where he started the restaurant, Mama Mia, in San Miguel de Allende in the 1970's. While cooking there, DiMario cooked for the President of Mexico as well as a visiting Queen Elizabeth.
From Mexico, DiMario moved to the United States, specifically to Connecticut, where he eventually opened a couple of restaurants, that became quite popular in the 80's and 90's, in particular, The Bridge Cafe in Westport and Spagone in Ridgefield. His diners there included Martha Stewart amongst others. DiMario sold those restaurants and left Connecticut a few years ago to retire to a farm in Washington County. Ever the cook, he was lured into starting another restaurant up here, this time in Hudson Falls, on the site of what is now one of my other favorite local restaurants, El Mexicano. Unfortunately for DiMario, he was injured in an automobile accident and had to give that restaurant up. After some time for recovery, he came back up to open The Cafe Lazio in its current location with his partner, Charlann Hurley. Originally conceive as primarily an Italian bakery and cafe, Cafe Lazio evolved into a savory restaurant featuring DiMario's delicious cooking (he grows a lot of his produce himself and imports other items from Italy), while maintaining his pastry touch with a few well-executed desserts including outstanding classic Italian pastries and an amazing flourless chocolate cake.
The restaurant, small and non-descript, will never win any awards for design, nor will it draw patrons for its wine list or stellar views. However, patrons can bring their own and the atmosphere has its own special charm. Nevertheless, the clear draw is the food, generously apportioned and very reasonably priced for the quality. Although, the restaurant has now been open for a couple of years, I only "discovered" it earlier this summer. It has quickly become a personal favorite and my most visited restaurant of the summer.
313 Bay Road
Queensbury, N.Y. 12804