After being prompted by a friend to visit The Orchard Tavern on North Manning Blvd a few times, I finally made my way there last night. As I arrived I noticed the parking lot was quite full, a good sign for what is to come at a restaurant.
Entering, I noticed the atmosphere is a little dated. Honestly, it kind of reminded me of a restaurant that you would see as a truck stop in a movie on some lone deserted highway in Iowa. There is a bar in the front, which I didn’t explore, but the back room is very outdated. The room is yellow thanks to old lighting at each table that purposely has yellow bulbs. Those really should go. This being said, it’s the food that matters, so let’s get into that.
The Orchard Tavern (I’m not positive of the “The”…the Web site has it but the logo and Facebook page do not) is well-known for their pizza. They’ve either won the Capital Region Living ‘Best Pizza’ award or been mentioned as a contender for several years. I might be wrong, but from what I understood the pizza only comes in one size. It’s a rectangle pizza that’s about the equivalent of a small pie pizza. I split one pizza with two people, well, two guys who eat a lot of food, and we definitely should have ordered two. The prices range in the $8-11 range for pizza, and the other menu items fir their as well. We ordered a white pizza with broccoli and ricotta (which I kind of thought those were standard white pizza items?) which cost an extra $1.09 each. I personally kind of thought that was steep for extra toppings, but I wanted them nonetheless. We also ordered an appetizer of macaroni & cheese wedges and the guys got mild chicken wings.
I was extremely disappointed with the macaroni & cheese wedges. They are described as “Creamy cheddar mixed with macaroni and coated with a crispy cheese batter.” Well, fail. They are very clearly straight off the SYSCO truck and are absolutely, without a doubt, simply fried Kraft macaroni & cheese. Are they edible? Certainly, they aren’t necessarily BAD. Buuuut, it’s Kraft mac ‘n cheese! There needs to be disclosure about that, especially since Kraft cheese powder is certainly not “creamy cheddar.”
On to the good, from what the guys said, the wings were good and they certainly smelled good. The pizza was terrific. The dough, which is homemade, is absolutely perfect and I loved the fact that the pizza wasn’t overly greasy (it was a little, but duh it’s pizza). Again, we should have ordered another pizza, because this one was gone quite fast. Next time I go I’d probably try plain cheese because that’s essentially starter pizza. If you can’t make a good cheese pizza, you can’t build off of it into anything else. However, after the white pizza I had my guess is that it’s going to be pretty tasty.