Formal: 677 Prime, La Familigia/Malozzi’s(they only do a Wednesday buffet now, but its still kick ass and cheap for what it is,) Wheatfields in Saratoga is also good(the woman who owns that also owns JT’s Shrimp shack,) The Real Seafood company has never let me down, but a lot of people don’t like it, I am a huge seafood junky fwiw, Verdiles in Troy(very italian, they are consistant to a fault, I’ve never had a bad meal and have gone there for the last 20+ years, not too pricey either), Cafe italia can be good, but its a little too italian for me, I’m always affraid someone in a corner table is going to be whacked Tony Soprano style, I’ve only been there a few times and I know its a chain, but Carraba’s(sp?) always suprises me with how good it is. My favorite is The Fort Orange club, its a private social club and there food is continental, which is my preference, so some may find it bland, but the ambiance is very old school, the service is fantastic and they have the best almond macaroons I’ve ever had. The problem is that its a private club, reservations are a must for the formal dining room and if your looking for something a little outside of normal your not going to find it there.
Semi formal: The boat house in coeymans, great ambiance in a relaxed sort of way, middle of the road pricing, in late spring dining on the deck over looking the Hudson is a very enjoyable way to eat a meal. Mercato’s, there are two of them one in Delmar the other in Schodack, this possibly could have been lumped into formal, but its not quite as nice, service not quite as good, but the food may be better. Smokey Bones, as good as bbq gets in this area. The Ripe Tomato in Saratoga, I don’t like this place much, but people I have brought there rave about it, again this could be lumped into formal, but since I don’t care for it, its semi. The Weathervane in saratoga, this is childhood favorite that I just had to include, basic seafood dishes that are great. Grandma’s on central ave, good old fashioned food, but be sure to save room for dessert, their pies and cakes are all homemade and delicious, Four Brothers in Valatie, they are a privately owned chain and do italian with a greek twist, they have I believe 9 Four brothers locations and 4 additional places that are exactly the same under a different name.
Pub style: By far the number one stunna in this arena for me is Beff’s, two locations, one in Delmar the other in Colonie on Everet Road, great pub food, good beer selection, good service you just can’t lose. The Sports Bar and Grill on rt 4 in East Greenbush has been pretty good, they opened just a few months ago in the old Benegans location and I’ve been there 5 or so times with only one less then good experience. The Towne Tavern in Averill Park, corner of 43 and 66, good pub food with a bbq twist, their food tends to be a little smokey, and service can be hit or miss, but the bar is finished very nice and they have a good selection of beer; they also have pizza but its not very good. Lake View in West Sand Lake is pretty good, they have pub food, pizza which is good and full dinners, one of the cooks drives a ITR(or at least used to,) Holmes and Watson in Troy is a very nice pub to eat at, great beer selection, very affordable prices and a unique ambience. The Ruck in troy is a crappy bar with great food, most of the night club places in downtown Albany are good for lunch.
I’m sure more will come to mind, and I’ll update. I have a lot of meetings over breakfast/lunch/dinner so I eat out way more then I’d like to. I’m not even going to get into take out, pizza, chinese or sushi or I will be here all night replying!