Baba Louie's - January 2010 (dt)
6.63 - 7, 7, 7, 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 6

 

The fifth of our eight repeats took us back to an old friend – close-to-home Baba Louie’s in Hudson. The fifteen minute drive was just long enough to warm up the car on this frigid January evening before a half-block saunter past the comfortable street lights and store windows of Warren Street.
               Considering the no reservations policy, we deemed the five minute wait certainly acceptable. As Mel was preparing our table, the front runners were already sitting down.
               The star of the show is food, although the phrase “upscale pizza” hardly does justice. The thin sourdough crust defies simple tearing apart but is rigid enough to hold a piece without flopping. And then the combination of toppings is almost endless. Our table tried the Abbondante BBQ Chicken Pizza with chicken and sauce, red onions, fresh mozzarella, smoked gouda, oregano and parmesan; a Margherita; the Puttanesca, with shrimp, (no anchovies), roasted garlic, capers, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, green olives, parmesan and fresh oregano; and combinations of other specials and of one’s own making. Other than the 14” chicken BBQ, 10” orders were the call of this evening. Ingredients are fresh and tasty, and are ‘classic comfort casual’ personified.
              
Preceding this was the salad course. Deb, Don and Judy attempted to consume the family size Dawn’s Delight, with mixed greens topped with a carpet of pears, gorgonzola, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts. Four individual Caesar salads completed the course, with a note about the sweetness, which probably was the “spicy” note on the menu. Even Tim tried a little. Fresh greens, fresh ingredients – salad at its best.
               Desserts beckoned and this time, unlike two years ago, all partook. (No access to the after-dinner liqueurs certainly influenced that.) Renown of the tiramisu, based on the Albany Times-Union raves, tempted Deb and Judy, with the others sampling; all declared it heavenly, light, and full of body. Don ordered the mixed berry cobbler – delicious, warm, crunchy base. The Karneses and Monteverds selected the carrot cake; all voted very good to excellent. In one of DP8’s most unusual sights ever, Tim and Judy shared the dessert – no pictures were taken to prove this but we all saw it, although Tim claims he ordered and Judy ‘shared’ (hogged). For a rare occasion, no one ordered chocolate.
                Drink selections allowed for an inexpensive evening also. Although bottles of wine are available, Tim ordered the two carafes of Stella Montepulciano d’Abruzzi for the five red drinkers while two had diet sodas and one had sparkling water.
               
Mel exemplified good service at BL – organized, watchful, attentive, just informational enough, with some character thrown in. Thanks, Mel. Carafes of water kept the water drinkers satisfied. Ken’s coffee was plentiful even though the taste is of treated water.
               Ambience is both casual and elegant. The restaurant’s front windows were steamed from the cold this evening. Entry pushes you left or right, with window front tables making one wish you were seated there. A line of several booths, divided by chest high wooden walls, line the right side. The center is a string of ordinary, metal stem tables, which, combined, seats a couple of dozen patrons, if combined. The left side has a couple of booths; the long dark polished bar with the full length mirror completes a classy look. Two lengths of white cloth drape the ceiling, presumably for noise abatement. Most impressive is the tin work – the square patterns covering the ceiling, the columnar floral design on the walls. A couple of hanging dome lights, with two or three wall sconces, surprisingly emit enough light to be light and cozy. The two sconces on either side of the kitchen window were deemed phallic by the interior decoration commentator on my right. And, of course, that gigantic back window, allowing visual access to the wood fired pizza oven, the salad makers, and the meal preparers, drew attention all night long.
               The chairs are ordinary, the dinnerware is adequate, the glassware is basic but efficient. Simply, Baba Louie’s exudes warmth, has well prepared pizza and salad, but casual still reigns.
               The bill came to $66 per couple, including tax, tip and drinks, quite an inexpensive evening (two years ago was $60, even though we had more dessert this time).

We had convened at the Adams’ abode earlier, almost feeling as if we had just seen each other the weekend before, which we had (a second ever two consecutive weeks of DP8). Weather, wedding, car problems, someone’s impending retirement, the Adamses’ Tucson trip, bowling, house closing, and a host of other topics kept us busy for an hour. Table talk included the same with only a flare-up or two of innuendo.

A comfortable, non-pressure evening. Thanks Baba Louie’s, and Mel.