BY JENNIFER FARNSWORTH
Some new Italian cuisine is coming to downtown
Ballston Spa with the opening of Russo’s Bar
The restaurant will be located at 15 Prospect
St., formerly the D-Line Pub. It will be part of the
Russo family restaurant business that started in
Amsterdam many years ago.
Owner Michael Russo said his great-grandfather
started the family business with Russo’s Grill on
Route 5 in Amsterdam in 1920, after coming to
America from Sicily. Since then, the successful operation
has expanded with Russo’s Adirondack Grill
on Route 30 in Broadalbin, and now Ballston Spa.
Russo said they are hoping to open the restaurant
between the second and third week of
Russo said the family credits their success to
being able to combine the importance of family
"We're very conscious of our own history with
the family business, but it's just as important to us
that by opening a restaurant someplace, we're becoming
part of the community there," he said. "After
all, before it was known for its food, and even after,
the original Russo's was vital as a place where locals
gathered to meet their friends and feel at home."
Russo's is known for Italian classics, like baked
ziti and penne vodka and sausage, but they also
have cold and hot sandwiches, as well as bar food
Russo said the Ballston Spa location will have
a very comfortable "homey" atmosphere. He said
they have changed and improved the decor in the
space, adding their own old-world Italian flair. They
will also have a full-service bar.
"I'm excited for people to see the kind of space
we're creating," he said. "We've done a lot of work on
the building, expanding the kitchen without losing
any seating, adding wood moldings and exposing
brick. You'll definitely see a lot of wood, brick and
custom-stained glass, just like the original Russo's.
We've built a gorgeous bar that will seat about 14
people, with some adjacent high tables and two
dining areas. It's very intimate," said Russo.
Russo added that the details are what people
will be talking about.
"The walls will be adorned with lots of photographs
from Russo's during the old days of the '20s,
'30s and '40s, along with some antique cooking
equipment we've been collecting, which I think
is very representative of what Russo's is all about,"
Russo said fusing his family's history, which
dates back almost 100 years, with people's lifestyle
today is part of what has made them so successful.
"Food has been bringing people together since
way before then, since people started cooking back
in Neolithic times. Italians in particular have always
emphasized this communal aspect of sharing a
meal, and big part of what we're doing is hopefully
creating that feeling for our guests and sparing
them all the work of having to cook it themselves,"
The original location in Amsterdam is still open
and remains a prominent fixture in the community.
Russo said he practically grew up in that restaurant,
learning about what makes patrons happy. It's
where he learned to make what he describes as
hearty antipasto, sandwiches and traditional pasta
dishes he serves at his soon to be three locations.
"There are some items that anyone who knows
my father's cooking will tell you that you have to
try–a great breaded eggplant, or chicken, or veal
parmesan, homemade sausage, and greens-and-beans,
just to name a few," said Russo.