Modena, Greenville - July 2023
A Teator pick, close to home – Modena.

Two versions: the first, as if it were a new restaurant.

            It was with fanfare that two former chefs at Café Capriccio entered a new venture – starting Modena, in Greenville. The fanfare included a front page Times Union article and can still be found.

            Owner Danielle greeted us upon entering, thanking us for coming, and was present several times during the course of our dinner.

            Cuisine is, well, Modena, after the Italian city and area.

            The menu is somewhat short. Entrées included three veal, one chicken, one fish special ($40), and one beef special ($48). The regular entrées fell in the $34-$28 range.

            Pasta entrées: Taliatelle & shrimp, truffle pasta, pomodoro basilico, or linguine with clams, with one exception, were marked at $26.

            Salads: Caesar, Caprese, or Arugula and White Bean fell in the $12-$14 range.

            Appetizers: cured meats and cheeses, greens and beans, mussels with fennel, or bruschetta ranged $12-$16.

I rarely list menu items with prices but this felt like Albany and Café Capriccio, or another mid-upper Italian restaurant.

            Our choices, including Deb K’s choice of sea bass, were classily presented, a step above our usual nice dining. And almost everyone thought the entrées were excellent.

            However, a couple who ordered the Caesar salad were surprised how insipid it was.

The dessert round was introduced by Danielle, a dessert chef, describing the details of each dessert. For my part, the flourless chocolate cake, with an almond tinge, often proves to be a chunky, dry cake. But this, upon first bite, moved into my Top Five of DP8 chocolate desserts. The other dessert takers ordered the-end-of-season strawberry shortcake with the buttermilk biscuits. I think most agreed they were good but there was a lot of biscuit.

Drinks included choices of draft beer and glasses of wine. The wine list was a nice representation of Italian areas (nero d’Avola struck my fancy).

Service by Hayden (part of family, I believe) and the couple others joining in (water-person was family also) was excellent with regular checking in without being cloying. And Danielle was quite appreciative of us dining at Modena and enjoying our meals.

Not having asked for special seating, we were placed by the front window, a nice spot for those looking outward.

The final bill per couple, assuming a drink each, at least one dessert, and no couple ordering two specials – food, drink, tip and tax - fell into the $100-$130 range

Some felt they would return soon; some, perhaps, after some more time.

Version Two:

            It was impossible for ten minutes to pass without thoughts of the many times DP8 has dined here when it was Ben and Terry’s Mountain View Brasserie. And the only thing better than that was the Freehold Country Inn – another Buel venture.

            We came with lots of baggage – most of it the warm glow of memories of dinners past. This high bar would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet.

            And given the unsettling changes after the Buel sale of the restaurant and some unhappy stories of friends trying to get reservations at Modena, I suspect a tinge of not wanting to like the place may have been present. Or, at least, an attitude of “show me you are as good as you think you are” may have surfaced. If wrong, my wrists are strong enough to take a slap or three.

            The menu was shorter than MVB, prices seemed higher than MVB (although prices were even higher post-Covid MVB), the long-time familiar faces of friends we knew were gone, some minor interior changes have been made, but, alas, this was not MVB. Even as we were experiencing the Buels, we always knew it was something special. It is hard to replace it.

            Half of us were pleased with Modena; half were not impressed.

            And thus two faces of the same experience played out.

Our monthly catching up on current events and goings-on is part of our enjoyment of our dining experiences. (#237!)

            Entering hallowed ground (MVB) and comparing then and now occupied the first several or more minutes. Joining that were the couple experiences of others who tried to get reservations with a large group, getting some odd answers along the way. This reservation was made with not even a hint of difficulty.

            Another sizable topic was the Monteverd trip to eastern Europe with the Adamses, sites and sights seen. Another was the Karnes trip for a wedding of one of their friends in Florida, with a plethora of enjoyable moments, notwithstanding the hot and humid weather. Other trips in our plans were mentioned – a variety of day trips, summer trips, regional, and international.

            Other topics: our August event at the Notars with all DP8ers invited; the whereabouts and good standing of the Adamses, Den, and Lynda & Ross; Deb’s Ravine Farm tales and happy faces she sees; the Sweet Side; gardening and the Teator wildflowers on property they do not own; very warm and humid weather from late June on; the flooding south and north of us; a visit to Chris; looking for a house to flip; and more that has evanesced.