Justine’s – March 2019 (dt)
7.21 – 7.5, 7.5, 7.5, 7.1, 7, 7, 6.9

One of our longer recent rides (50-55 minutes) found the lead Teator car heading westward on Rt 145, winding through Cobleskill, and parking at Justine’s—a half mile from the community college.

Many restaurants have signature elements – dishes, prices, service, etc. For Justine’s, how about portion size, with take home containers large enough to feed once, maybe twice, even three more times. And then the opening bread plate, two plates, each with six inch-and-a-half slices of Italian bread, drizzled with balsamic, loaded with garlic, topped with shreds of parmesan. Our self-control proved adequate at a slice per person but it was difficult eyeing the five extra slices lying there (three of them did disappear). And then, the final flourish, the $68 per couple bill.

The menu is decidedly Italian, with two pages of small print that begged for more time to decide. One could easily select a different appetizer and entrée each night for a week and begin to find the range of Justine’s menu. And the name Justine appears many times on the menu.

Our choices for the evening:

Choices of six pastas were available.

All were deemed delicious and very good – not a weak selection at the table. We will not confuse Justine’s with upper echelon fine dining Italian, with smaller portions and devotion to the sauces, but Justine’s could be a worthy everyday go-to place if we lived closer.

A soup or salad was included, with each of us selecting the salad, with a choice of ten dressings. An eight inch diameter, an inch-plus deep bowl of fresh greens, three cherry tomatoes, several shreds of onion sufficed for a simple but satisfying starter.

One appetizer for the table was ordered, the Kriss Monteverd special – fried Brussel sprouts and bacon, with the bacon dominating the sprout taste. In fact, Kriss probably, if she closed her eyes, would not have known she was eating sprouts, if she were here.

Drink order consisted of a Atwater 2016 Pinot Noir North Block Five, a couple glasses of wine, a couple bottles of beer, diet soda, and a round of water. We were impressed with Justine’s commitment to NYS wines, with only NYS wines. And mark-up was remarkably low, with our wine marked up 75%-100%, a number rarely seen on our travels (even competing with MVB).

Portions were so large, and the take-home boxes so full, that the idea of dessert seemed almost obscene. Still, Don and Deb shared a pineapple layer cake—moist, crumbly, with a creamy frosting that was light and almost sweet at the same time. If it was not homemade, there must be a good local bakery close by. ‘Twas excellent, even from a chocolate dessert person.

Service was very good. Dressed in worn-out, hole-ridden bib overalls, Joann was attentive, even when dealing with noise…
Noise: whaaaaatttjaasaaay? Between 7 – 7:45, it was a strain to hear. I suspect Mark, at one end, heard little of what Chay and Julie said at the other. Then, as the crowd filtered out, the din diminished somewhat. I think I asked Joann to repeat things three times.
… back to service. Joann wasted little time for chitchat, if not from character, but mostly because Justine’s was hoppin’. (Although she did stop admire Julie’s necklace.)Soda and water were replenished appropriately, info about the wine list was updated, and done with a serious smile most of the time.
            She served the table by herself, with delivery of entrées one or two at a time (it takes time to transfer plateware large enough to almost qualify for pails and platters, and she was reasonably quick about supplying all of us.

Entry into Justine’s plops you into Room 1, the pizzeria room, perhaps raising an eyebrow or two, at first. But turn the corner and a 35x20 room, burgundy walls above a wainscoting, burgundy ceiling with a lowered outset in white trim, centered by a six tulip bowl chandelier, with recessed light complementing. The wall between the service doors featured an old set table with vases, flowers, and jellybeans to go—an attractive room.
            The tables were set with a two piece silverware and a small bread plate which would be filled soon by the Justine’s bread. Capacity was probably close to 50, and we caught them on a Friday night. If noise is a problem generally, they seem to endure it.

Although some through there was a delay before delivery of entrées, pacing was a little faster than usual, with DP7 exiting at the hour-45 mark, made ten minutes longer waiting in line for the single bathroom on the floor. Entrées, in fact, arrived at the 55 minute mark, on the short end of average.

We had met at the Teator house, with a couple minute turnaround. Conversations in the car and table might have included: Kerry’s absence – a headache, the 70 degree day today (!!), Chay’s hand appearing to be back to normal (yea!), Chay prepping for operation next week (boo!), the joy of sunlight after 7 pm, the difference of snow cover from Teator and Karnes properties, the working woman (not Deb this time), age, the youngster of the group (Joyce), the oldster of the group (Don – get back quick, Monteverds!), whereabouts of the other eight, FB sightings, Lynda’s treatments, spring prep, wishing for no more snow, the in-the-face glare on Mineral Spring Rd, the noise level at Justine’s (not the loudest but was close, at first), Notar time-share use, the Quinn kids and their Mom’s hopes (good luck, Julie!), Nathan’s garage, shelving bid at an auction, VHS tape player needed, the Notars just returning from Florida, the Notars heading to CA in May, the Teators heading to Italy in late April, and more that has escaped my memory cells.