Internationally inspired but locally sourced, elevated but exuberantly decadent fare is on the menu at The Delaware in Albany, the newest hotspot by the team behind the Old Daley brand of restaurants and catering. The restaurant, located at 300 Delaware Avenue, opened for business on Friday, November 17, after almost a year of thoughtful development.
“Our vision was to create a warm and comfortable environment that encourages conversation and fun,” says Stephanie Pettit, co-owner of the restaurant’s parent company, Daley Hospitality Group, and the visionary behind the project’s development and design. “At first glance, you may think it’s going to be formal. But then you hear the 1970s and ‘80s R&B music and see how friendly the servers are, and you know you are in for a great time. Each room has some type of Old World charm, with newly upholstered banquettes and booths, deep green walls and custom wainscoting, wallpaper, antiques and artwork throughout.”
The meticulously curated project marks a departure for Daley Hospitality Group’s aesthetic in some ways, says Pettit, but a continuation of its overall paradigm and spirit.
The Culture Behind the Delaware
In many ways, The Delaware was decades in the making, and has enjoyed a long history of family and friends working hard and dreaming big in the food space.
“We started with the Old Daley Inn Restaurant back in 1975,” Pettit says. Gene and Dana Coletti; Gene’s siblings, Don and Ann; and Ann’s husband, Jeff Faller, teamed up on the restaurant, which was set in the historic Lansingburgh section of Troy. Stephanie’s husband, Jim Pettit, joined the restaurant as a dishwasher at 16, and quickly climbed the ladder. In 1999, Jim and Stephanie set out with Gene to expand the Daley empire through catering. Old Daley Custom Catering became synonymous with upscale comfort food, and a few years later, Gene sold the restaurant; Marty Keary, another boot-strapping young employee who shot to the top after starting as a busboy, joined Jim and Stephanie as a partner, and the trio decided to focus exclusively on catering—an operation that to this day serves a 75-mile radius around Lansingburgh in the Capital Region and now has a beautiful, award-winning wedding venue, Old Daley on Crooked Lake.
Slowly, their vision expanded to include permanent dining concepts: Daley’s on Yates in Schenectady and seasonal dining at Old Daley on Crooked Lake’s Oak Room. They’ve recently hit the casual market, too, with their Baja California-Mexican food truck that has become a staple on Washington Avenue in Albany, and The Daley’s Snowman, a seasonal walk-up stand in Troy that serves up housemade ice cream, flurries and sherbets.
New Kid on the Block
The Delaware’s goal was to distill all of these concepts and vibes into one invigorating metaphorical cocktail.
“The design plan alone went through a number of incarnations before settling on the current art nouveau and art deco–inspired aesthetic,” Pettit says. “There is literally not a square inch of the building not touched in some way over the past 11 months.”
Now that The Delaware is open, executive chef Elliott Vogel is tasked with executing and presenting the team’s long-in-the-making story. Vogel, who is also the head chef at Daley’s on Yates, is a bona fide “master” when it comes to creating menus and delivering an entire universe of flavor in one dish, Pettit says.
“Once we knew we were opening in November, he was able to hone in on and perfect seasonal items,” Pettit says, adding that guests should come hungry for mouth-watering classics such as Beef Wellington and bone-in New York strip, but also be prepared for decidedly modern options that include smoked tofu.
It’s all housed in the former home of the late, great New World Bistro Bar, which set a sky-high bar for culinary chops and old-fashioned hospitality. Thankfully, Pettit reports that the reception, thus far, has been overwhelmingly positive. “The opening was fantastic,” Pettit says. “It was a super-gratifying and well-attended evening.”
And now that the dining room doors are open and the front and back of house staff have worked out the inevitable grand-opening kinks, head over to get a taste of the world, right here in the Capital Region. The space sits 100, but make reservations ahead of time just in case. The Delaware is open Wednesday to Sunday, staying open late on Sundays for hospitality veterans.
Favorite dishes for sharing include luscious lobster dumplings with chayote and black vinegar, oil-slicked and spicy blistered shishito peppers, and garlic focaccia with Locatelli pecorino romano. Next up, go for old-fashioned rarefied elegance (the steak frites—a 12-ounce Highland Hollow ribeye with frites and ramp chimichurri—is an instant classic), indulgence (a seasonal Scallops & Caviar dish with parsnips, almond butter and citrus), wild imagination (spicy Moroccan mushroom noodles with chickpeas, serrano pepper, curry tomato and cilantro), or out-of-the-box vegetarian (smoked tofu pastrami Reuben with sauerkraut, pressed rye, Swiss cheese, pickles and Russian dressing).
Do your tablemates a favor and also order the pommes frites to share, and choose from classic salt and pepper, garlic and parm, or spicy BBQ and gorgonzola (if you’re feeling wild).
Entrées range in price from $17 (for the blackened chicken sandwich) to $68 (prime Beef Wellington). Wash the worldly fare down with just slightly newfangled takes on classic cocktails, such as an espresso martini or seasonal purée and lime Prosecco cocktail). Locally sourced beer is also on on the menu, as is a healthy selection of excellent wines from around the globe (Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay is a steal at $35 a bottle).
“We are feeling so good and fortunate,” Pettit says. Now that we’ve seen and tasted, so are we.