Tenth Anniversary Celebrations To Last All Year
By Arthur Gonick
ROME – Every great Italian restaurant is like a love story. This restaurant began with one.
It was Sunday, August 27, 1992. At 1 p.m. in Rome, Italy. A young American tourist by the name of Nancy Washburn was in Rome for just that single day and looking for directions to the Sistine Chapel.
She stopped a random stranger on the street, who immediately called upon his Italian sense of chivalry and offered to escort her there personally. The man’s name was Giancarlo Balestra. It was, evidently, love at first sight. And they have been together ever since.
This chance meeting between the gentleman from Roma and the lady from Verona (New Jersey, that is) might never had happened if not for a lack of Scandinavian amusement.
Giancarlo explains: “I was in Sweden and it was boring. So I went home that very day. Nancy was truly my destiny,” he says beaming. “The best partner I could ever want.” And you can tell he means business, in addition to life.
Their romance embodies the spirit that people cannot help feel when they enter Limoncello Ristorante (1 Ballston Avenue, Saratoga Springs) – a feeling of a Northern Italian oasis from the stresses of the day. Get comfortable; you’re home with family.
La famiglia is enhanced with the recent return of Host Maurizio Nascimben, a long time friend and associate of the Balestra’s. “I came out of retirement for these two, but also for myself,” he said. Apparently, once it’s in your blood…
“I retired in 2007. Even got married to my beautiful bride, and we were fortunate to travel,” he explains. “But I started getting the ‘itch’; I expressed a great feeling of sadness about this to Nancy and Giancarlo. To my delight, they made me an offer, and I started the very next day.”
“Maurizio, to me, is the quintessential Italian gentleman in every sense of the word. He is the perfect host for Limoncello.” Nancy said.
Indeed, each of them bring superior skills to the table, which has given them a lifetime of restaurant success that has stretched through out the country to places like Aspen, CO and Winter Park, FL.
As one of the founders the highly successful Chianti when it opened on South Broadway in 1998, Giancarlo was delighted to come back with Nancy to Saratoga Springs in 2004 to start Limoncello. “There are great opportunities for restaurants in this area, and we were happy to reconnect with friends and family.” Giancarlo noted.
The restaurant moved to it’s current location in 2008, giving the Balestra’s more room to welcome diners inside two spacious indoor dining areas as well as outdoor garden seating when the weather is friendly. “We have many reasons to celebrate in our tenth year in Saratoga.” Nancy said. “In addition to Maurizio joining us, we have an enhanced energy about having our best track season ever.”
Look for that to be reflected in our menu, which is always transitioning to some extent.”
Giancarlo noted that some dishes he often features as specials, such as papardelle with Osso Buco, are becoming so popular that they may take a permanent spot on the menu. Based on the absolute feast they arrayed in front of Mark’s camera for this feature, I have no doubt that whatever they add will be winners.
To accompany all this, it must be noted that Limoncello sports one of the area’s most extensive wine lists, featuring the best from Italy and California, spiced up with some rare Tuscan vintages. But you haven’t lived until you have tried the signature drink: The Limoncello, naturally. Nancy personally mixes up each batch that is served.
And beginning next week, the Limoncello family is planning a yearlong series of celebrations to commemorate their tenth anniversary. Between October 15 and December 31, all gift certificates bought will receive a 10 percent discount.
Also, after the first of 2015, look for a ten week series of dining events that will be called ‘A Taste Of Italy’ in which a different region, such as Naples, will be featured each week from Sunday-Thursday with a moderately priced three-course meal. The specific menu details will be forthcoming.
But this is a place you can go to with confidence anytime, not only knowing that you will have great food, drink and atmosphere – but a unique experience. It’s the attention to the little things – like Nancy growing all the restaurant’s basil; Giancarlo’s culinary expertise and Maurizio’s warm greeting for everyone – it all adds up to something special.
La famiglia. Enjoy!
For more information, visit limoncelloristorante.com or phone (518) 580-8700.