Walking into Georgio’s Café (60 Genesee Street, New Hartford), one is greeted by intoxicating aromas of Italian cooking and a warm décor consisting of deep maroon paint on the walls, white tablecloths and decorative green plants draped with holiday lights. One is then immediately greeted by a large crowd of hungry diners (even on a random Wednesday night), along with a warm loaf of Italian bread dressed with garlic, Parmesan cheese and herbs all adhered by flavorful olive oil.
The Italian feast continued as the waiter quickly returned with our order of fried calamari. The tender squid rings were covered in a perfectly golden brown batter that was fried to perfection. To our delight, the calamari were dry and crispy rather than being soft and oily. The breading was surprisingly light and did not overwhelm the squid, allowing the seafood to be the star of the appetizer. Rather than being served with the traditional Italian marinara sauce, the calamari were accompanied by a horseradish infused cocktail sauce that complimented the appetizer nicely.
The appetizer was quickly followed by a complimentary salad that came with our entrees. Georgio’s Café is renowned for its exceptional greens, particularly escarole, featured in numerous appetizers. However, the salads made of Romaine lettuce and a medley of fresh vegetables commonly found in garden salads did not receive similar accolades. The vegetables were smothered in an exceptional amount of dressing. After a few bites the salad was deemed uneatable and the attendees pushed aside the plate and waited for the main course to be served.
The first plate sampled by an attendee was the chicken scampi. which consisted of two generously portioned chicken medallions and numerous button mushrooms in a traditional creamy scampi sauce, over a bed of linguini. The dish was accented by two jumbo shrimp which had been slit through the center of the meaty part of the crustacean so that they curled out to the side during the cooking process. In addition to the sprinkling of parsley, the large shrimp made the dish aesthetically pleasing. The various aspects of the meal made for a complex and flavorful dish that did not disappoint.
I enjoyed one of the multiple specials of the day. It was comprised of two large chicken medallions lightly coated in flour and sautéed until golden brown. The chicken was accompanied by sautéed broccoli, button mushrooms and red and green peppers in a pink cream sauce. The entrée also came with a choice of sides. I selected the steamed vegetables that reportedly included carrots, green beans and snap peas. However, there were no snap peas in the side dish. Although the dish was delicious and the high quality of ingredients was obvious, this particular dish should come with a warning. The red and green peppers were not crisp bell peppers, rather they were very spicy hot peppers that were intensified by the hot temperature of the dish when it arrived at the table. For those who share my affinity for spicy food, this is the dish for you! The only critique that dish warrants is that some of the broccoli florets were burnt during the sautéing process, a negligible flaw.
Georgio’s Village Café provided a very enjoyable dining experience. The large crowd on the random Wednesday night was a further testament to the high quality of the restaurant. Based on the size of the crowd, I would encourage future diners to make reservations ahead of time. Georgio’s Village Café’s well-priced menu is home to all Italian favorites ranging from pizza and pasta to seafood, chicken, beef, veal and even duck. The well-executed, flavorful food is definitely worth the forty-minute drive from Hamilton, N.Y.