Ok, maybe that isn’t 100% true, but she really did get me started on my Troy education. When I first moved to Albany almost 25 years ago, I received some advice from a childhood friend regarding Troy. He said, and I quote, “Troy is the armpit of the Universe.” I was uncertain exactly what that meant, but seeing as how I didn’t have a car, Troy wasn’t an area that I planned to explore with any haste anyway. No problem.
But, then I met Mary Panza, South Troy denizen extraordinaire, and began venturing across the river. We generally ended up at her sister’s house, where we consumed fantastic quantities of eggplant and pasta, all bathed in the senior Mary Panza’s fabulous red sauce. My personal opinion began to form about the collar city – Troy was ok with me.
Since that time, I’ve been pulled to Troy for their superior Farmer’s Market, beer and music venues, restaurants and unique shops. I learned to never move a folding chair left in the street and to maintain a sense of the river’s location to navigate the grid of one-way streets. I like Troy – there, I said it.
Last night I intensified my like of Troy to a level of affectionate love. Granted, the company I was in was a definite factor, but the charm of Troy is strong and it has never looked better. Speaking of looking, our evening began at the beautiful and historic St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Photographer and TU blogger, Chuck Miller, had an event to celebrate the opening of his stellar photo exhibit. The images he captures are primarily local and demonstrate a keen eye for both lighthearted humor and thoughtful observation. Cool venue, great show, get there before it’s all gone.
Our next stop was DeFazio’s in Troy for some real pizza. Everything about this joint charms me – the almost magical way the simple ingredients combine for a pizza that is the best I’ve ever had outside of NYC, the politeness of every person who helped to take care of us, the black and white tiled floor, and the red convertible the delivery guy drives. Everything! We went with an antipasto and a small pizza with olives and prosciutto. The antipasto is substantial (served with crunchy garlic bread) and the small pizza was the perfect size for 2. I think we may need to try the pasta next time because we witnessed a plate of it being served and were practically in need of restraints. Have any of you ever had their pasta?
We ended the evening with a visit to the Charles F. Lucas Confectionary around the corner from Monument Square, in downtown Troy. I would feel guilty about not getting to this place sooner, but I believe last night was the first time I’ve been in Troy since this fantastic place opened. I have to say, it isn’t as if I’ve been missed, because the joint was positively jumping! The waves of guests entering and departing during our 90 minutes there, was impressive. We had a tour of the space by the owner, Vic Christopher, and I can’t say enough about the vision he and his wife, Heather, made into a dreamy reality for us all to share. Wow. Our bellies were full of pizza and cappicola, but the beautiful glass of Cote du Rhone rose’ Vic brought my way was exactly the crowning touch to a memorable May evening. I am incredibly enthusiastic about this project. the additional related grocery store business in the preliminary works and the new-to-me term “reclamation construction.” Troy is a lucky city to have landed such super smart and cool entrepreneurs and I imagine myself finding my way to the Collar City with previously unimagined frequency.
Armpit of the universe? Au contraire – more like the heart of the Capital District. Let’s hope our next Albany mayor fosters the kind of growth Troy is now experiencing – and that Mary invites me over for eggplant really soon.
2 thoughts on “Everything I know about Troy, I learned from Mary Panza”
Wow, that antipasto and pizza look delicious. I’m hungry!!!!!
I moved to Troy from Chicago about two years ago, and when I arrived I heard a lot of similar anecdotes about Troy – that it’s Albany’s equivalent of East St. Louis, Detroit Jr., Baghdad, etc. But…I absolutely love it. I’m within walking distance of DeFazio’s, the Confectionery, and just about everything in between. In addition to the farmers market there’s almost always something going on downtown each weekend. Granted, parking is a nightmare and there’s a group of guys on my street who like to get drunk and urinate in the alley behind my apartment…but still, even with its warts, Troy’s a pretty cool place.