It has now been twenty years since Brunetto’s in Warrensburg opened its doors. The restaurant quickly became a North Country favorite with visitors and locals alike. A seat in the dining room is a very hard ticket to score during the summer tourist season, and securing a seat at the bar is even harder.
The restaurant does not take reservations, but we crossed our fingers and stopped in last night for dinner. At 5:30 the parking lot was already full, and our request for two seats at the bar for dinner was greeted with a skeptical smile. After checking for available real estate with our favorite bartender Liz (not a chance), we were offered the last table in the dining room (and were happy to get it.) I remind readers that this story takes place on a Thursday in March. Not only is it not tourist season, it’s not even mud season yet.
The menu at Brunetto’s is a familiar collection of home style classics all offered in chuckwagon portions at reasonable prices. Ergo, the line of cars in the parking lot waiting for a space. We started with martinis and apps. Both were in keeping with Brunetto’s “super-size it” theme. Our martinis arrived in perfectly ice chilled glasses, and were accompanied by an iced cruet of over-pour for seconds. Just like milkshakes for grownups. Delicious.
For appetizers we settled on a seafood ceviche, and the restaurant’s legendary steamed mussels. The latter arrived in what appeared to be a re-purposed bird bath, which drew glances from people at neighboring tables. I shared a full plate of the garlic bathed morsels with my table-mate, and tackled the balance as best I could. At the end of the exercise I was still left with what would be a normal serving of mussels in most restaurants. I pressed on.
|Mussels in white wine and garlic for One (or 2, or 3, or 4)|
Under normal circumstances my suggestion would be that you invite some friends, grab some seats at the bar and order just this one app with a bottle of white wine. The dish costs $11 and can easily serve three or four people. (I’m sure the proprietors would frown on this suggestion and you probably couldn’t get seats at the bar anyway.)
The menu has not changed much since we last reviewed the place in 2012. (You can read that review here.) One thing that has changed – for the better – is the wine list. On our last visit the restaurant had just secured a liquor license and the wine list was still “under construction”. The updated carte now offers a nice selection of reasonably priced wines – nothing fancy, nothing too expensive; much like the menu, familiar standards at reasonable prices. The most expensive selection was a bottle of Clos du Val (Napa) Cabernet Sauvignon, priced at a very reasonable 2/1 markup for $45. We ordered a bottle to accompany the veal chops we ordered for dinner, which were smothered in a hunter style ragu of tomato and mushrooms. Wonderful stuff.
I have no idea what the dessert offerings look like at Brunetto’s, as I have never been able to get past the main courses. If you do make it that far, please leave your observations and suggestions in the comments section, along with your waist size and a phone number for a next of kin.
Veal Chop “Sicilian” ~ $25
Roast Monkfish ~ $22