Tuesday, March 19, 2013

                                 Lake Avenue Trattoria

Last week I had the good fortune of obtaining a ticket to the new hot restaurant in town, Lake Avenue Trattoria.  The restaurant has some distinguishing characteristics that set it apart from your everyday Italian eatery: 1) The restaurant offers an interactive component  allowing customers to help out with the restaurant’s goings on, 2) The wait staff was very young and trendy, 3) The lemonade was freely flowing and seconds were available for pasta.  Well - need I say more. 

My evening started out with the interactive component where I was given the job of floater to the wait staff, seeing if they needed any assistance with carrying food or serving their customers in any capacity.  What little nervousness the servers displayed before the first wave of customers arrived at 5:30 soon dissipated as they were busy greeting their customers and taking their orders. At first, I was called upon quite a bit but soon the young servers could soon be seen moving independently and briskly in and out of the kitchen with salads, garlic knots and plates of steaming pasta.

Trendy, young wait staff before their 7pm shift

My other assignment was to make sure that the water, lemonade and parmesan cheese were always filled and plentiful on the table.  This afforded me an opportunity to  interact with both the customers and the kitchen. During my many trips into the kitchen,  I had the opportunity to meet the woman in charge Chef Gristowitz and her crew.   All kitchen personnel was friendly, helpful and committed to making Lake Avenue Trattoria a success.  In addition, the kitchen proved to be extremely clean and organized giving me confidence as to the quality of the food and service I could anticipate during my upcoming meal.
Busy waiters delivering delicious pasta

After each group of diners finished, the servers bussed the dishes, wiped the tables and reset them with red placemats, blue or white napkins and silver ware.  Each table decoration included a bouquet of fresh flowers and the dining room window treatments looked new and fresh.  Charming Italian music could be heard in the background to add to the restaurants ambience.

With my interactive portion of my evening ending at 6:30, I was now ready to begin the dining part.  We were seated promptly and politely by the hostess at 7pm.  Our waiter introduced himself  as Lucas and possessed charm, manners and efficiency.  We were given the choice of salad with or without dressing, and pasta with or without sauce or meatballs.  Before we knew it, our salads had arrived; ample plates of mixed greens drizzled with a savory Italian dressing.

Soon two more families were seated with us and two more excellent waiters were working our table as well.  I always enjoy a restaurant that has community style tables allowing people to meet and chat with other diners.  Our two new waiters (Liam and Grace) were also competent and friendly as I overheard them addressing their customers and taking their orders.  Liam and Grace also helped out by offering to bus our salad plates.

Presently, our waiter brought out our pasta without spilling a drop.   All four of my dining companions had chosen the pasta with sauce and three out of four of us had meatballs.  The tomato sauce was indeed on the spicy side but delicious and a suitable background for the savory meatballs.  My portion of penne pasta was ample and served hot.  When one of the other guests inquired about seconds, it was discovered that they were available at no charge.  You don’t see that everyday.
Lake Avenue Trattoria's best!!

About 5 minutes into our plate of pasta, our waiter returned and asked if everything was okay.  We replied that our meal was great.  We appreciated his follow-up and helped ourselves to more lemonade.  

Our meal was pleasantly interrupted by singing.  We turned to see approximately 10 waiters serenading one of the dinner guests.  The young diner was thoroughly enjoying her birthday treat.  What fun.

When our meal was finished, we were surrounded by eager servers happy to bus our plates.  To our surprise, another young server named Jackson helped to clear our plates.  We were then directed to the dessert table nearby.  My dinner mates went and got their dessert and brought it back to the table.

Presently, our waiter was back, apparently in a new position as raffle guy, offering us the opportunity to purchase tickets for a 50/50 raffle. He approached this new job with the same gusto as the waiter job, if not more so.  His sales techniques were irresistible and we purchased some raffles.  The fun continued.

Following dessert and a farewell from our waiter, we wandered into the adjoining room to discover more excitement. Apparently Lake Avenue Trattoria had more to offer than your typical restaurant.  The evening also included a fund raising event that offered a spectacular variety of baskets and prizes.  They had everything from a parent’s night out basket to a dog lover’s basket to a one year family membership at the YMCA.  People were enjoying their dessert as they viewed the baskets and prizes.  The excitement was palpable and building.  
Lake Avenue waiters before their shift

When everyone from the dining room and kitchen had moved into the prize room, the moment had arrived to announce the winners.  And winners there were.  I would say that there were at least twenty-five ticket winners.  So there you have it.  An evening that offers it all: good and plentiful  food, excellent waiters who sing and prizes!!  

Where is Lake Avenue Trattoria located?  It is conveniently located at 126 Lake Avenue in Saratoga Springs.  How can you get a ticket for this special restaurant?  Sadly, Lake Avenue Trattoria is only open one night a year in either February or March.  Since tickets go fast, I would contact the Trattoria in early January of 2014 to take part in this very unique dining experience.

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez

Photos provided by Christine Joyce and Diane Lachtrupp Martinez