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Restaurant capsules

If you love smoked barbecued sandwiched, Southern style, with the side dishes to match, our newest entry of top restaurants reviewed by our dining critics within the past six months — Capital Q Smokehouse in Albany — is for you.

Apertivo Bistro
426 State St., Schenectady (579-3371). A lively, bustling, and stylish restaurant owned and operated by Angelo Mazzone, where you will find excellent food to enjoy in a number of ways. Order small plates — piattini — of exquisitely prepared and presented miniature Italian specialties ranging from simple dishes of olives or cheeses to more elaborate ones, like lamb chops or steak tartare. Salads are big enough to share and a respectable list of entrees offers something for everyone. You must have one of their homemade desserts like the Nutella pizza or fried dough with fresh sauces.

Bistro Tallulah
26 Ridge St., Glens Falls (793-2004). Serves Cajun-influenced bistro food such as Cochon de Lait (roasted suckling pig), roasted chicken and andouille gumbo and Coq au Vin. Dishes are well prepared, creative and reasonably priced. Reservations strongly recommended.

Cafe Capriccio
49 Grand St., Albany (465-0439 or This restaurant has earned a reputation for consistently excellent food. The intimate basement restaurant has a crack team of servers and a menu that changes daily. Expect a well-paced, outstanding meal and be sure to save room for homemade desserts.

Capital Q Smokehouse
329 Ontario St., Albany. (438-7675). Slow-cooked smoked meats including brisket, pulled pork, ribs and rotisserie spice-rubbed chicken, with Southern side dishes like baked beans, Hoppin’ John, cornbread and collard greens. Mostly a take-out place, but you can eat in. Cash only. Not handicapped accessible. Grade: A

Chefs Take Out
3770 Carman Road, Guilderland (357-2222). Take out or eat in, but either way you’ll get big portions of excellent Italian food. The staff is cheerful and friendly, and keep up with the busy take-out business. The comfortable and attractive dining room seats 60. Chef Cunsolo knows what he’s doing — this is good stuff. Try the savory and perfect veal marsala or tender chicken limone cooked with white wine. Cannolis are homemade, and other desserts are very good. With Chefs Take Out, you can truly get fine-restaurant quality food at home. Keep in mind a take-out meal is enough for two people or will supply agreeable leftovers for days.

In Hampton Inn and Suites, 25 Chapel St., Albany (436-3737). Dominick Purnomo’s restaurant in the Hampton Inn & Suites is every bit as good as Yono’s, his parents’ place, but more casual, livelier and bustling. This means the place is noisy and busy but the atmosphere is electric. The food is outstanding, especially the homemade desserts. If you want an intimate meal, step into Yono’s, but if you’re looking for action, then dp is for you.

Earthly Delights
Vegetarian Cafe
162 Jay St., Schenectady (372-7580). Freshly made, imaginative vegetarian dishes using mostly organic and “fair trade” products. Delicious soup, chili, salads and sandwiches, including grilled panini. Background music is from vinyl records, which they spin all day.

Halfmoon Sandwich
& Salad Shoppe
1615 Route 9, Halfmoon (371-2902). Have a big fat sandwich with a pickle on the side at the Halfmoon Sandwich & Salad Shoppe, and if you're from the greater New York area, you won't be homesick while you enjoy your meal. They've got Boar's Head cold cuts and bread that's delivered daily from a downstate bakery. Try one of their inspired specialty sandwiches, or get a spring roll stuffed with cheese steak or buffalo chicken. Round out your meal with a flavored soda and some homemade baked goods.

La Cocina
122 Main St., Hudson Falls. (746-2773). Cuban cuisine that is well prepared and served in chef-owner Brett Scott’s take on Old Havana in the venerable former Washington County courthouse. Sofrito-based dishes that include coffee-crusted sirloin steak on caramelized onions, a half-chicken marinated in mojito sauce and then baked and, of course, paella. Don’t miss the flan.

Village Plaza, 19 Clifton Country Road, Clifton Park. (383-5538). Lots of repeat business means that Mr. Fuji is doing something right. You'll enjoy their fresh Tokyo-style cuisine in the comfortable, attractive restaurant whether you're at a booth or at the sushi bar. Service is especially helpful and friendly, and don't pass up the excellent mango crab appetizer.

Spill’n The Beans
Coffeehouse & Bistro
13 Third St., Troy. (268-1028). More than just a coffee stop, this is a place you can get a made-to-order breakfast, lunch, or a light dinner in the beautifully restored 1844 building. Bring your laptop or a book and settle into a comfy spot with a cup of Grafton Hills coffee, which provides serious, artisan-quality coffee that’s available by the pound, or sit at a table and enjoy inventive and tasty sandwiches, and fresh, beautiful salads. Most pastries are made in-house. No formal table service but the staff is uncommonly helpful.

200 Broadway, Troy (272-3013). Dress nicely: you're going to a handsome, high-end Italian-inspired restaurant in the impeccably restored Hendrick Hudson building. You are going to have an exceptional meal, they guarantee it, with professionally trained waitstaff and exquisite food. Meats are perfectly grilled, and dinners imaginatively composed using complementary seasonal ingredients. Try the shrimp Tosca, perfectly grilled lamb chops, and be sure to save room for an outstanding dessert. Better make a reservation, too.

54 Clifton Country Road, Clifton Park. (688-1548 or 817-3953). Featuring the cuisine of northern India, Zaika gets it right with an ambitious menu of deliciously prepared dishes that provide a sensory experience you won’t soon forget. Operated by Sonny Brar, who spent many years at Sitar in Colonie.

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