Villa Napoli Lake George Italian Restaurant Reviews.


The Lake George Mirror
50 Years at Melody Manor
Restaurant Celebrates 50 Years in Historic Bolton Setting
by Anthony F. Hall
June 26, 2009
View printable version of this article

The Lake George Mirror
Table Talk
by Blaze Marshall
July 24, 2009
View printable version of this article

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The Lake George Mirror

Table Talk by Blaze Marshall

Sometimes the best kept secrets are right under our noses. How many times have I traveled route 9N (Lakeshore Drive) and looked down over a stone wall and across a wide expanse of lawn at the Villa Napoli, never making that turn down a long driveway to investigate what’s inside and experience their cuisine. Melody Manor is a beautiful resort, well manicured, on the lake and there in sets this free standing Ristorante Italiano.

On this Sunday evening, along with five constant companions, we struck out for the Villa Napoli. 
Many years ago it was the Manor Inn, then Poggi’s.
Ten years ago Rose and Damian Alessi decided to run it themselves, and following the former lessor continued with original Italian cuisine. 

We called ahead for reservations and upon driving in at our appointed time we were pleased to find only a few tables occupied. A good time to convince not-so-thirsty companions to
check out the very attractive bar and lounge.

Good fortune continued when we were greeted by Rose, one of the owners, busy tidying up the bar. We asked about Peroni beer and Lemongello liquor and she had both to offer.
Oh boy, a “real” Italian restaurant!

We all relaxed and ordered a round of beverages. The bar is done in rich mahogany tones, the back bar honeycombed, serving as a massive wine rack, and there is a beautiful rendering of Amalfi on the foyer wall. The dining room is spacious, tables well positioned under wonderful chandeliers, and a huge stone fireplace is the centerpiece, along with a diamond shaped wine rack on one wall.
Nice touches, truly classic Italian, but not overdone.

Perhaps by luck, perhaps because the staff really knows how to please, we were directed to a corner table just inside open French doors. The scene outside was an unexpected, beautiful view of a picture perfect brook, falling over a waterfall, next to two beautiful arches framing an Italian garden, much like one we had seen on the Isle of Capri. Artist Friend wanted to go home and get her easel.

Our waitress, Zena, arrived immediately and reported some of the daily specials that are also outside on the blackboard for all to see.

This night he was featuring moonfish, veal scaloppini, and a veal chop as entrees. The menu is very creative, covers most of Italy’s famous regions and ranges from a Veggie pizza for $8.50 to Ossobuco $23.95, and Zuppa Di. Pesce for $22.95.

Companions agreed on beginning with a cold antipasto platter that was laden with imported cured meats, grilled vegetable and imported olives and cheeses. We also chose to share a plate of grilled baby calamari that came with a spicy lemon and olive oil dressing, fresh arugula, and baby greens. Constant Golfer, who loves calamari almost refused to let us tee off on this dish. We also sampled a wonderful tower of fresh vegetables layered with grilled Portobello zucchini and eggplant layered with mozzarella, roasted peppers and garnished with a pesto and balsamic sauce.
Wonderful beginnings. All entrees come with fresh, warm bread, a house salad and pasta.

Miss Picky, of course, chose Chicken Sorrentino, a generous breast, sautéed, breaded and layered with eggplant, proscuitto, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. No proscuitto for her, and the kitchen got it right.

Constant Golfer went with his usual scallops, this time with shrimp, sautéed in garlic butter, white wine, fresh diced tomatoes and basil over spaghetti. Country Club friend chose the moonfish, which was lightly dressed with a delicate lobster sauce and fresh spinach. Nurse Mary went with a real scaloppini that consisted of three lightly breaded cutlets accompanied by mushroom ravioli in a rich demi-glace. She gave this dish “two thumbs up”. Only on rare occasions does she leave her plate clean. She did this time!

Artist Friend was intrigued by Melanzane Imbottito, which turned out to be layers of fresh eggplant, spinach, ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers doused with a very rich tomato sauce. She even washed it down with the menu suggestion of Pinot Grigio.

For me, the lamb chop arrived medium rare, bone in, with a hint of rosemary, alongside wonderful fresh spinach, pasta combination.

Zena offered a wide selection of desserts, and we chose to split a giant berry sorbet that had plenty of whole blueberries and cranberries to boot. Our other choice dessert was a mud cake fudge torte. It was very moist with very fresh chocolate mousse and chunks of rich Vienna fudge, drizzled with bittersweet chocolate granache.

Zena asked about doggie bags and came to the table with three, placing the leftovers in the containers tableside. A nice touch.

Service throughout our meal was very efficient. Water glasses filled as necessary, not rushed and all the dishes were described perfectly. Villa Napoli Italian Restaurant is right there on Lake George, by boat or by car and their very innovative regional Italian cuisine will make you take notice.
It is a secret no more.

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Around the World, by Stacey Morris. Publication Date: 08/04/1999

Editor's note:
"Around the World ... In Our Back Yard" is a monthly food series exploring the ethnic diversity of the region.

A Flavorful Family Affair

Local restauranteur perfects southern Italian dishes with a little help from her mother-in-law

BOLTON LANDING - Rose Alessi is familiar with the perils of running a seasonal business: three months of nonstop work at breakneck speed, unexpected shifts in personnel, the occasional power outage during a storm.

For the past six years, she and husband Damian have owned and operated Melody Manor and Villa Napoli, a motel and restaurant situated on a sprawling campus that overlooks Lake George.

It was actually during one of the never-ending seasonal crises that Alessi's career as a chef took flight.

"One of my chefs just walked off the job," she remembered, shaking her head. "I felt so helpless --
so I made a vow that I would never allow that to happen to me again."

That led Alessi to study culinary arts at Adirondack Community College. But since Villa Napoli restaurant specializes in southern and northern Italian cuisine, Alessi decided to enlist a higher authority to hone her Italian cooking skills -- her mother-in-law, Elena, a native of Naples, Italy.

"I always admired Italian cooking," she said. "When I married my husband, I became part of a big Italian family."

It was while being guided by Elena that Rose learned the art of fine-tuning specialty dishes like eggplant parmagiana, antipasto and pasta cooked al dente (firm).

"During the winter months, we would spend months at a time with his family," she said. "Huge family meals with multiple courses were no big deal; they happened all the time."

Now Alessi devotes her summers to overseeing the operation of the restaurant. Alessi helps in the kitchen when needed, but she also does the hostessing for the restaurant.

Alessi said the Italian dishes she and Ruane have developed for Villa Napoli have an authenticity that has made even Elena proud.

"All our ingredients are fresh, especially the herbs; I'm very fussy about that," she said, pointing to a platter overflowing with antipasto, a traditional Italian appetizer that includes fresh cheeses, marinated vegetables, fruits and greens flavored with a potpourri of pungent herbs.

Alessi's version of antipasto includes specially grilled and marinated vegetables like peppers, eggplant and zucchini; fresh smoked mozzarella; slices of melon wrapped in prosciutto; salami, onions and olives. The dish's crowning glory is the caponata, a caramelized sweet and sour Sicilian eggplant relish.

Another large part of southern Italian cooking, Alessi said, are dishes made with eggplant.

"It (eggplant) was known as the poor man's meat," she explained. "The geography of southern Italy didn't allow for lots of cattle grazing, so meat dishes were seldom served."

Cows were mostly used for their milk, which in turn led to a preponderance of cheeses like mozzarella and peccorino romano, from sheep, that currently dominate the cuisine.

"The southern Italians were very inventive," said Alessi. "They used what they had at their disposal, lots of fruits and vegetables."

A typical meal for her husband's family, who are originally from Naples, includes several courses of salads, cooked vegetables, pasta, soup, entrees and dessert -- assuming there's room for it.

Since the meals are so extensive, Italian desserts are typically light, usually fresh fruit with a cream sauce or just an espresso or cappuccino.

Below are some of Alessi's favorite recipes she prepares at Villa Napoli:


Roasted Peppers - Roast peppers on grill until charred. Place in bowl and cover five minutes, then peel off waxy coating, discard stems and seeds. Retain brown juice; slice and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic slices and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Eggplant Caponata - Take two large eggplants and dice into .5-inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and drain in colander for 20 minutes. In the meantime, saute one large diced yellow onion; when translucent, add two stalks diced celery. Cook together till softened, then add the eggplant and cook until all veggies are done. Add 1 cup diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 handful of olives. Sprinkle with parsley.

Marinated vegetables - 1 red onion, sliced; artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers. Marinate 20 minutes at least in 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 ounce white wine vinegar, salt to taste and a squeeze of lemon.

Grilled vegetables - Slice zucchini 1/3-inch thick, drizzle with olive oil and grill. Have on hand mixed greens and an array of meats and cheeses. Assemble platter artfully.


(Sausage with rosemary)
Saute 1 large diced red onion in olive oil until golden on high heat. Add a pinch of chile flakes, 1 bay leaf and 1 pound sausage meat. Break up sausage meat in pan and cook until browned. Add 1 tablespoon garlic, 1 cup canned tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes. Add .5 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary.
Serve over any thick tube pasta: penne, ziti, etc. Add fresh arugula.


(Stuffed eggplant with roasted red pepper and tomato cream; for 4, use 8 slices)
Slice eggplant 1/3-inch thick. Dredge in flour, egg and bread crumbs. Fry in oil until golden and almost done.
Combine .5 cup ricotta cheese, cup cooked spinach, 1 ball fresh mozzarella, diced, and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese.
Divide mixture between 8 slices of eggplant and bake. Place in 350-degree oven and bake 10 minutes; 5 minutes before removing eggplant, cover with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
Serve on a bed of roasted red pepper and tomato cream: Saute 1 red onion, add can of pureed roasted red pepper and cup of your tomato sauce. Add cup cream and cup fresh basil.


(Serves 4)
Wash, hull and quarter 1 pint fresh strawberries. Retrieve a few from the batch and puree them.
Cannoli cream
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons powered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
cup chocolate chunks
2 tablespoon lemon liquor (limoncello) or substitute Grand Marnier.
Mix and pour on top of berries.

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Melody Manor Resort

Resort Address: 4610 Lakeshore Drive Route 9N Bolton Landing, NY 12814
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 366 Bolton Landing, NY 12814
Resort Phone: 518-644-9750 • Restaurant Phone: 518-644-9047

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