Sophisticated Dining Has Come to Clayton

Our little Clayton, NY is kind of on fire, you guys. Not only is The Chateau knocking it out over on Route 12E, but right on the water on Riverside Dr. in the village is the newly unveiled DiPrinzio's Kitchen, welcoming diners to a modern setting you might expect in Skaneateles or Saratoga, but almost never around these parts.

Inside, it's bright and airy, with light wood floors, dark wood tables, two walls of windows, and a bar stocked with St. Lawrence Spirits. Basically, River Heaven. You have got to go!

We began our feast with the arancini, which are Italian rice balls, stuffed with cheese, breaded, and deep fried. These babies are a big deal downstate, especially in Staten Island, but I haven't seen them much on Northcountry menus. This is cause for celebration, my Hungries.

The Milanese style risotto is tinted a glorious yellow from saffron, formed around a small cube of (I believe) mozzarella cheese - enough cheese to have a pull when you cut the ball in half, but not so much that the cheese gushes out all over the place when you bite into it. It's classy! No gushing!

They were served in a shallow pool of bright tomato sauce blanketed in a dusting of grated parmesan. Delicious.

Focaccia! Not the standout of the meal, but perfectly passable - airy but also smacking of olive oil flavor and just a little oregano.

We split a Caesar salad of which I didn't get a pic, but which was just about perfect. The Caesar dressing, which can sometimes be too salty or two lemony, was light and well-balanced. It just lightly dressed the romaine lettuce, and shavings of parmesan cheese finished it off beautifully.

We liked that the pizzas were small enough to order several, but still big enough to share. The crust had well-developed flavor and texture - thin, but not so crispy that you miss the chew factor. The spicy pepperoni was offset well by that bright, acidic red sauce.

Gnudi is pronounced like nudie, but it's not quite so risqué. These fluffy gnocchi cousins are made with ricotta cheese and served tre colore, or in a sauce trio of tomato, basil pesto, and alfredo. The pesto stole the show completely, with robust pine nut and parmesan cheese flavors anchored by the floral herb.

We liked the fettuccine alfredo less. The pasta was fresh and delicate, which was a check in the plus column, but the sauce was SO light, it carried almost no flavor at all. There was very little sauce dressing the pasta, and whereas so many other dishes were well-balanced, this one tasted like it was mostly cream with very little cheese. It lacked cheese, salt, and maybe some pepper - mostly, it needed personality. It was the one downfall of our meal.

Carrot cake sheltering under a thick sheath of cream cheese icing completely redeemed the weak pasta dish. This layer cake was moist, with plump raisins and good carrot flavor - not too sweet or overly spiced. The cream cheese icing was equally tart and sweet, and complimented the cake deliciously.

DiPrinzio's makes their cannoli shells fresh, in-house, and fills them to order, to ensure a crunchy product. Need I saw more? Our diners loves them so much, the picture came out blurry.

I am very impressed in DiPrinzio's, especially for a brand new restaurant, and legit excited to eat there when The River is alive and kicking, and the restaurant's waterfront deck is open. The food here isn't perfect yet - sometimes that comes later - but most of our dishes were very well executed, and we enjoyed our meal tremendously.  The service was a little haphazard as well - we had to flag down our server a couple times as she was catering more to regulars - but when she was at our table, she was enthusiastic (though her mangled pronunciation of the word prosciutto will live infamously in our memories for a good while) and friendly.

I give DiPrinzio's Kitchen a seven on the BHS scale, but I'm betting you I revise that score with time as the team finds their rhythm, and The River's beauty elevates the gorgeous interior to even greater heights. You better get your table before the season starts - I'm betting the wait for a table come May will be kind of lengthy. My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

PS: They have Taco Tuesdays!!

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