If it’s Sunday night in Schenectady, expect to find families gathering at Home Style Pizza on upper Union Street.
Though the restaurant has been around for 40 years — it opened its doors in 1972 in a much smaller space at Van Antwerp Road and Union just over the line in Niskayuna — Family Pizza Night is new, says Anthony Adonnino, who owns the business with his uncles, Lou and Michael Bennice, and his cousin, Anthony Bennice.
The idea, born of the flagging economy, was to offer families a place to gather for an inexpensive meal, and it’s proving popular, he said. (A four-cut cheese pizza with Caesar or tossed salad is $5).
We dropped in at Home Style’s current home at 1720 Union St. on a Sunday for lunch, and found the restaurant relatively quiet, but there was a steady stream of take-out customers.
Home Style Pizza
WHERE: 1720 Union St., Schenectady. 372-7270, www.homestylepizza.com
WHEN: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday
OTHER INFO: All major credit cards; handicapped accessible; children’s menu available
After loitering for a few minutes at the dessert cases in front, we were invited to choose a seat of our liking and settled into one of the comfortable booths. We ordered hot beverages — coffee and tea — to warm us up while we perused the menu.
The restaurant ambiance is pleasant enough, its decor in blue and gray with complementary landscapes on the walls evoking the Italian seaside. Unlike most pizzerias of our acquaintance, it has a full-service bar and there’s a lot more than pizza going on in the kitchen.
The restaurant offers theme nights — “Pasta Night” is Monday, “Parm Night” is Tuesday, and on Saturday you can get a prime rib dinner. If you dine between 5 and 9 p.m., there’s live music as well as the ribs, priced at $15.99 for the 16-ounce queen cut and $18.99 for the 23-ounce “only if you dare” king cut.
Other dinner specialties include Veal Saltimboca with linguine, Fillet of Sole stuffed with crabmeat and scallops over risotto with a lemon dill sauce and Penne Tre Merli — grilled eggplant, sautéed cherry tomatoes, fresh mushrooms and fresh mozzarella in a light rosa sauce. For those with traditional cravings, yes, you can get spaghetti and meatballs and linguine with white clam sauce.
You can order sub sandwiches on ciabatta bread — all kinds of combinations like prosciuto with roasted red peppers and Provolone, or grilled portobello mushrooms with roasted red peppers and balsamic vinaigrette. There is a similar array of panini choices, like the Siciliano which is prosciutto, ham, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, and quesadillas that include barbecued chicken and “Pepper Bleu,” which is steak, fried onions, Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms and blue cheese.
And there are calzones and strombolis, an array of pizzas baked in Home Style’s brick ovens, including specialty pies like Chicken Wing and Philly Steak, round Neapolitans, Sicilian-style thick pan pizzas and white gourmet pizzas.
PASTA E FAGIOLI
We chose to start with appetizers — a cup of Pasta e Fagioli for me ($4) and Greens and Beans (also $4) for Beverly. We found it interesting that the basis of both was the same marinara sauce. The fagioli had the requisite pasta (a d’italini) and white cannellini bean combination, and the greens and beans were mostly greens, which was fine with us.
I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Salad ($8) for my entrée, and Beverly went with the California Panini (also $8), a turkey BLT with the addition of guacamole, which we thought was a nice touch.
The panini was suitably crispy on the outside and a savory meld of flavors on the inside. Some of the bread was discarded, however, to make it a little less carb-heavy. Beverly noted, nonjudgmentally, that the bacon was a bit scant and the turkey wasn’t freshly roasted though it was a good-quality deli version.
My salad was an impressive array of fresh mesclun studded with grape tomatoes, red onions, black olives and cucumbers, and chunks of crispy Buffalo chicken of medium spicy heat, accompanied by blue cheese dressing on the side. I had no particular complaints, as my empty bowl would testify.
Home Style Pizza is a good place to go for a quick bite morning, midday or night and particularly suitable for families. (In a follow-up interview, Anthony Adonnino told us they make a great breakfast pizza and you can order eggs, too, if you show up early enough.)
Our server, Abby, was both friendly and efficient. Our tab, for coffee, tea, two appetizers and lunch entrées, came to $36.22, including tax and tip.
Though we stopped to drool briefly over the desserts in the display cases at Home Style Pizza, we resisted the urge to eat any of them. If you have less resistance than we to such confections as Italian pastries including cannoli, butter cookies, cakes and cheesecakes and fancifully filled filo creations, you’ll like Home Style a lot.