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Minissale’s Wine Cellar Cafe – One Of Troy, NY’s Hidden Food Treasures

Since 1978 brothers Phil and Ted Minissale have been making delicious homemade Sicilian food for the good people of the Capital Region.  I stopped by this great local spot last night to try some of their great product.

courtesy BJ Ragone

The Albany area is full of some great local eateries.  The trick is, you have to find them.  Allow me to introduce you to Minissale’s Wine Cellar Cafe in Troy. This place is a family owned and operated food making machine that is even branching out to sell their products all over the Capital Region, New England and beyond.

The whole journey stared a couple weeks ago when I was making my own pasta sauce and listener Nick Grant said I needed to try out this places sauce, which is available to purchase.  Turned out Nick worked there and him and owner Phil Minissale dropped me off a jar of their traditional Sicilian sauce and spicy Arrabbiata sauce.  So I tried these out almost immediately and was hooked.  So I called up Phil to ask him a little about the restaurants history and the delicious sauce.

Minissale's facebook

Phil and his brother Ted started the restaurant back in 1978 and have been doing it their way for 33 years.  They started it with their parents who you can still spot in the kitchen on Friday nights cooking up some of their homemade eats.  Phil jokingly told me that he told Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian that maybe someday the city will be known as the sauce city instead of the collar city.  Perhaps one day that will be true and I have no problem helping him get there.

This sauce is the real deal.  Made in house and coming to Price Chopper and Hannaford’s all over Albany, Schenectady and Troy.  They even have a deal to distribute the sauce in Maine, New Jersey and even down south.  I can’t begin to tell you how addictive it is.  You’ll find yourself just standing over it dipping slice after slice of Italian bread in it.  The Arrabbiata sauce is the star.  Spicy, sweet, it’s everything you would want in it.  They use habanero peppers in it, but don’t be intimidated by that.  While it has some kick and good heat it also has tremendous flavor.  They have been selling both that and the Sicilian sauce at the Deli Warehouse on Fuller Rd for years now.  Now, they are going to distribute it on their own so people all around the area can try it out.  The facilities are ready to go, and very soon you’ll be able to pick up this sauce everywhere.  Phil and Ted even gave me a tour of the where they make all the sauce on Monday’s and Tuesdays.

When I talked to Phil about the sauce process he gave me some great incite into what goes into it.  It’s not like making it at home.  They have to make sure their is a certain PH level to it so that it has shelf life and it has to be 195 degrees before they bottle it.  He also told me they don’t make it with soy, but instead they use olive oil and canola oil.  He explained that soy product increases estrogen levels in women, which actually increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer.  So Phil and Ted are in a sense, saving lives with their sauce, so to speak.

Believe me, the sauce isn’t the only thing these guys are making in house. Everything is homemade just the way their parents use to do it years ago.  Ted Minissale even makes the Italian sausage in house.  So after trying the sauce and talking to Phil on the phone, I had to try this place out, and I’m glad I did.

courtesy BJ Ragone

I started out with one of my favorite appetizers, calamari. It was absolutely delicious.  Tender, and almost falls apart in your mouth which is very unusual for calamari.  Combine that with some of their Sicilian tomato sauce and you have a winner.

The menu is extensive too.  All kinds of pasta dishes, they also do burgers, wings and some dynamite pizza.  I had to try the Sicilian style  pizza. That was also a home run.  I got it with their in house made Italian sausage and sweet peppers.  I ate so much, and yet still had a lot to bring home.  Basically, if you go to this place you’ll get three meals out of your one purchase.

It’s hard to believe that these guys have been around for 33 years and I am just discovering them now.  Like Phil said to me yesterday, “better late than never”.  These guys have been getting a lot of help from the City of Troy and are very grateful for it.  They have put together some fantastic products, and from the moment you walk in and are greeted by Donna the waitress you feel like your in someones home, not a restaurant. They treated my fiance and I to a great evening. This is for sure going to be a regular stop for me from now on.  If you are looking for some really good homemade Itailain food then Minissale’s is the place for you.

You can check them out on facebook too.  Big thanks to Phil and Ted for having me and showing me a really good time.  Also a big thanks to listener Nick for opening my eyes to this place.

BJ with Nick, Phil and Ted. Courtesy BJ Ragone

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