The Top 10 Restaurants In Schenectady, New York

Photo of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor9 February 2017
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Located in eastern New York State, Schenectady was founded by 17th century Dutch colonists and later became famous as the birthplace of General Electric and the American Locomotive Company. Having attracted large immigrant populations throughout the centuries, Schenectady offers a wide variety of cuisine. Here are ten outstanding local restaurants.

Courtesy of Aperitivo Bistro

Ambition Bistro

Bistro, Diner, Restaurant, French, Gluten-free, $$$
A self-proclaimed ‘funky little downtown bistro’, Ambition Bistro has operated out of a landmark building on historic Jay Street since April 2000. The restaurant possesses a casual, retro atmosphere with posters and prints adorning brightly colored and brick walls and cozy, diner-style tables and booths. Ambition Bistro serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, featuring standard menus and daily specials. Breakfast consists of a selection of omelets, breakfast sandwiches, French toast and pancakes, while lunch and dinner menus feature an array of soups, salads and inspired sandwiches, a ‘happy and healthy’ list with balanced, lower calorie options, and a scattering of entrees such as Asian garlic sesame salmon and chicken Marsala.

Aperitivo Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, Italian, 0
Meaning ‘little plates’ in Italian, Aperitivo Bistro is situated on State Street in the center of downtown Schenectady, next to the historic Proctors Theater. Aperitivo Bistro specializes in Italian fusion cuisine with a trendy metropolitan atmosphere. The décor is warm and contemporary with brick walls, colorful seating and unique light fixtures that cascade down from high industrial ceilings. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, offering the likes of eggplant meatballs, sweet potato gnocchi and a selection of small plates, from mussels and chorizo in white wine and garlic sauce to calamari with a sweet chilli glaze. In the warmer months, Aperitivo Bistro opens its floor to ceiling doors and additionally offers a special ‘show night’ menu for theater-goers.

Canali's Restaurant

Restaurant, Italian, Seafood, $$$
Canali’s Restaurant provides an old-world take on Italian food, offering a traditional dining experience with large portions at good prices. Canali’s is a family owned and operated restaurant, popular amongst local residents. The dinner menu features Italian-American favorites such as mozzarella sticks, roasted red peppers and fresh calamari as starters, as well as a selection of soups and salads, handmade pastas, chicken, seafood, and ‘Italian specialties’ such as eggplant parmesan and sausage with peppers.

Cella Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, American, $$$
Owned and operated by an Italian family, Cella Bistro is all about delicious, quality food, rich culture and tradition. The restaurant specializes in Italian fusion cuisine as the chef was trained in French, Italian, Asian and American styles of cooking. Dinner at Cella Bistro is an experience of culinary innovation and inspiration, with unexpected twists on classic dishes. The dinner menu features a selection of appetizers, salads, pastas and entrees, including artichoke and goat’s cheese spring rolls, duck breast with pomegranate sauce, steak frites with hand cut fries and roasted peppers stuffed with rice, tomatoes and jalapeños served over rice and black beans.

Cornell's Restaurant

Restaurant, Italian, Seafood, $$$
Cornell’s Restaurant has been serving the finest Italian food to the local community since 1943. This dining spot moved to its current location on North Jay Street in 2002, becoming a vital addition to Schenectady’s own ‘Little Italy’ neighborhood and providing customers with extra seating space. The restaurant maintains its family owned appeal, featuring a welcoming atmosphere and friendly service. Cornell’s Restaurant is open for dinner, featuring a menu of popular Italian classics such as calamari marinara and clams casino, pasta dishes, seafood, chicken and steak. A selection of local and imported beers, red, white and sparkling wines are also on offer to pair with your meal.

Ferrari's Ristorante

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Ferrari’s Ristorante first opened its doors in 1974 and has since become a popular Italian eatery on Congress Street in Schenectady. The restaurant possesses a family-style atmosphere that is both relaxed and casual. Ferrari’s Ristorante is open for dinner, with a traditional Italian menu of chicken, seafood, pastas, sandwiches and house specials such as eggplant parmesan, lasagne and baked ziti. Ferrari’s Ristorante bears several accolades for ‘Best Italian Cuisine’, ‘Best Italian Restaurant’ and ‘Best Schenectady County Restaurant’, which makes it well worth a try for anyone looking for quality Italian food in the area.

Johnny's

Restaurant, Italian, American, Seafood, $$$
Johnny’s on State Street offers lunch and dinner menus of standard Italian-American cuisine. Lunch options feature a selection of soups and salads such as classic Caesar, Italian antipasto chopped salad, pasta fagioli and an Italian take on nachos, as well as sandwiches and house specialities including hamburgers, subs, pastas and small plates. Dinner also offers an assortment of small plates, such as mussels, bruschetta, fried calamari and fried mozzarella, a selection of freshly made pastas, steaks and seafood dishes.

Tara Kitchen

Bar, Restaurant, Moroccan, $$$
Tara Kitchen stands out amongst Schenectady’s Italian restaurants, bearing several accolades, including the ‘Rising Star Chef’ award. Tara Kitchen is owned by a Moroccan husband and wife duo who aim to bring the best of their home cuisine and culture to Schenectady. The restaurant has a fun, colorful atmosphere with warm tones, a rustic wooden bar, tiled floors and wall panels and a scattering of Moroccan decorations. Tara Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner, featuring Moroccan dishes such as pita breads, kebabs, tagine and couscous. The restaurant additionally offers cooking classes, as well as cooking and beauty products.

The Bier Abbey

Charcuterie, Pub, Belgian, $$$
Specializing in local, craft and international beers, The Bier Abbey on Union Street also offers slightly upper-scale pub food. The menu features a cheese plate, Belgian frites and a charcuterie plate alongside a selection of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and hearty entrees such as fish and chips and Tandoori Cornish hen. The Bier Abbey has a comfortable atmosphere with an outdoor seating area and beer garden for the warmer months.

The Van Dyck Restaurant & Lounge

Restaurant, American
When The Van Dyck Restaurant & Lounge first opened its doors in 1947 it also brought the best of jazz to this Schenectady stage, with performances by internationally renowned musicians such as Earl Hines, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Hank Jones and Thelonious Monk. The Van Dyck is now considered one of the most prominent ‘listening rooms’ in the United States, with a rich history and big sound. The venue has expanded beyond the world of jazz with performances by John Pizzarelli, Cyrus Chestnut, Richie Havens, Herbie Mann, Chick Corea and Maynard Ferguson. Along with the sounds, the Van Dyck offers an extensive dinner menu with a long list of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and main dishes such as fish and chips, lobster, strip steak, and pizza.

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