In Schenectady’s own Little Italy lies a hub of authentic Italian cuisine whose flavors are difficult to match. Cornell’s Restaurant is true to its name, serving Ivy League-quality food for over 70 years. Offering an elaborate and exquisite menu, Cornell’s is a great place to go for a fancy-shmancy meal.
When you think of Italian food, what’s the first thing to come to mind? Gooey cheese, pasta, crispy bread, a great sauce? Cornell’s sports all of the above, making you feel like you’re in a villa in the middle of Venice.
An integral part of a tasty Italian meal is the bread. Cornell’s offers patrons several soft rolls. These rolls are less fluffy and airy than I particularly like. The rolls also lack the characteristic crunch of great bread. Although I was particularly disappointed with this shaky introduction, this was only the start to a phenomenal meal.
Moving on to the appetizers, I tried the Caesar salad and the clams marinara. The Caesar salad had all of the elements that a tasty Caesar salad needs, parmesan cheese, crunchy lettuce, garlic, and black pepper. As a person who usually does not like seafood, the clams were so well prepared and seasoned that I was converted into a clam-o-phile. The bread serves as a very effective vehicle for tasting the clam marinara sauce’s salty, sweet, and wholesome flavor.
As a main course, I had the privilege of indulging in the “Specialtia Di Casa” Veal ala Raphael. I’m not sure who Raphael is, but after my first bite I wanted to pat him on the back. The Veal ala Raphael dons medallions of veal wrapped with a warm blanket of prosciutto and mozzarella, married with sautéed mushrooms and sherry wine marinara sauce. Just as my description was a mouthful, so was my first bite.
Truly a brilliant blend of tender beef, salty pork, velvety cheese, and that sauce, the Veal ala Raphael is one dish that every Union student needs to try before they graduate.
I also sampled the chicken parmesan. The chicken parm at Cornell’s puts Dutch Hollow’s chicken parm to shame, as Cornell’s flavor profiles are off the charts. A thin and crispy chicken breast fried to perfection and laminated with flexible cheese the size of my head appeared in front of me (and quickly disappeared…). Seasoned to perfection, the dish had me wishing it was even bigger than it was. When you get that perfect fork-full of spaghetti and chicken parm, your taste buds will thank you.
Both meals came with a large Caesar salad as an appetizer and a sizable bowl of pasta for a side dish.
Customers are greeted by some of the same people who worked at Cornell’s since it opened 70 years ago. The hostess, in fact, is part of this original staff, and seeing her still working reaffirms Cornell’s deeply rooted history of Italian delicacies and Schenectady success.
While the waiters are amicable and honest, do not expect to be in and out in less than an hour, since the waiting time for food is rather extensive. That being said, for Italian food this good, I’d have to say that it’s most certainly worth the wait, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for an incredible Italian cuisine.