Love it or leave it (based on the reviews), it is hard to argue that More Perreca’s / Perreca’s Bakery in Schenectady’s Little Italy is not a local classic and we finally stopped by for lunch.More Perreca’s is small. I’m not sure I can see trying to get in here on a weekend night for dinner. They must be busting at the seams.
I’ll tackle one item right off the bat – a lot of negative reviews I’ve seen talk about how the food is great, but they had a bad service experience. Our service was friendly and fine. True, it wasn’t packed (although service still seemed slightly disorganized, although effective nonetheless), and that probably helped. That said, I’m not going to say other people overreacted – it’s entirely possible that other servers aren’t as good or that when really busy it doesn’t suffer. So, all I can do is reiterate that our service was perfectly good.
I will launch my one big gripe, though – the unsweetened iced tea is $3.75! Now the tea was good, I’m not denying that. Supposedly house-brewed, also a good thing. And we were left a pitcher, as you see above, perhaps because we both got tea (but maybe not). It didn’t stop us from ordering it (bravo to Perreca’s for even HAVING prices for drinks on the menu), but it was a bit over the top.
These panini come with your choice of a cup of soup, chips, cold salad (I thought we were offered potato, but maybe it was macaroni), or sweet potato fries…no regular fries, which is interesting. You can see I went with the soup, on this day their version of New England clam chowder.
The chowder was quite decent for this part of the world, although with celery and, I believe, carrot, neither of which belong there. It was also just a bit thin, but still more chowder than soup, which was good. A decent amount of clam for a cup of soup. Not overly loaded with potato, which was nice. Overall a nice flavor.
You may be able to tell that the Mega Panini are, indeed, quite large. I did manage to finish after a light breakfast and it being a late lunch. I certainly had no room for a giant cupcake or one of the other lovely looking pastries we were offered. It was loaded with, I’m guessing,the equivalent of around 3 large, homemade meatballs. They were, happily for ease-of-eating, broken down into pieces and slices. The extra $1 for mozzarella was a good choice, it thoroughly coated the meatballs within (and then some), and helped hold the meatballs in place. The sauce was light, enough to taste it and to help moisten the sandwich, but not enough to make it soggy save for just a small spot on the bottom (that still held together, thanks to the strength of the bread).
The bread is great. Perreca’s is indeed justly proud of their bread. Even toasted (except for around the outer, charred edges) it was chewy and had just the right pull to it, plus a lot of well-developed flavor. I don’t know if Perreca’s version of a panino is more “authentic” than the typical American version or not, but it was sort of a hot, lightly toasted sandwich instead of the flattened, smashed version we normally see. It was a fine choice and let the ingredients breathe. Those charred edges on the bread are troublesome though – the bread, already with a crispy crackly crust, was in places too hard and had to be broken off to allow a proper bite. But it was just a thin bit along the edge in a few places.
The meatballs themselves were as good as advertised. Moist, flavorful, neither tasting simply of meat nor overly seasoned to hide the meat’s flavor. I really liked them. I saw at least one review complaining about the sauce, but the sauce seemed fine to me. I think red sauce is quite personal – too many people are used to either whatever sugary jarred sauce they buy or, if they’re lucky, the homemade version that their family eats, perhaps what they grew up on. Anything else, too many people are too eager to whine, is “bad”. No, it’s different. Yes, some is bad if too acidic, too much seasoning, not enough seasoning, etc. But if it’s just not what you’re used to, that doesn’t make it bad. Again, this was fine and used with an appropriately light hand.
I was really happy with my meal, overall. And the lunch special my wife had also got thumbs up – a grilled chicken panino with mushrooms, provolone, caramelized onions…and maybe one or two other things I’m not recalling. Plus the sweet potato fries that got their own good review. Half of her sandwich came home. With our two iced teas, lunch was around $32 before tip. A bit high, but a lot of homemade items here and the panini are really large enough for two meals normally, which takes a bit of the sting out of it.
Both the restaurant and bakery are in one building on North Jay in Schenectady and there’s parking in the back.