Throughout this year, saratoga living‘s sister publication, Capital Region Living, will be focusing in on different cities in the Capital Region. We’ll take you on a tour of all the top restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels in town—as well as introduce you to some of the city’s most memorable residents. This month, we’re taking a closer look at Troy, NY—the Collar City.
Courtyard By Marriott Albany Troy/Waterfront
The ultra-modern Courtyard by Marriott Albany’s Troy/Waterfront location (est. 2018) has all the accommodations and amenities you’d expect of a big-box hotel, plus an unbeatable location: It’s a short walk from the high-end food court/incubator that is River Street Market, which currently features everything from a ramen restaurant to an upscale burger joint; Troy’s favorite brewhouse/restaurant, Brown’s Brewing Company (see below); and the best barbecue this side of the Mason-Dixon line, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (where you can also catch all of the area’s best tribute bands).
Gardner Farm Inn
Armed with an equally fascinating history and ownership ledger, the Gardner Farm Inn dates back to the 1700s, though it was only reborn as a bed-and-breakfast in 2015 by current proprietor John Hughes. (Not to be confused with the late film director.) With cozy suites named after some of Hollywood’s most whimsical characters, such as Saratoga (the film) actress Jean Harlow and Pink Flamingos director John Waters, the inn daily offers guests to-die-for homemade breakfasts (made by John himself), with ingredients sourced from Troy’s award-winning Waterfront Farmers’ Market.
It didn’t take long for Peck’s Arcade, a four-year-old casual fine-dining spot with an ever-changing menu of eclectic small plates, to become Downtown Troy’s, um, breadwinner. Open Wednesday through Saturday, Peck’s is actually a three-for-one deal: The restaurant shares a storefront with Little Peck’s, its sister cafe, which serves a hip brunch nearly all day (its Egg & Cheese Biscuit gives New York City’s bodega-made cousin a run for its money); and its second floor is occupied by the Tavern Bar, among the city’s best cocktail/mocktail lounges.
Sunhee’s Farm & Kitchen
Of Troy’s handful of Korean-influenced restaurants, Sunhee’s Farm & Kitchen reigns supreme, with its simple order-at-the-counter menu of small plates and soju-spiked cocktails (make sure to try the kimchi scallion pancakes and beef/tofu Bibimbap). For eaters with their sights set on warmer climes, look out for the Sunhee’s-spearheaded Ferry Street Night Market, a showcase of international flavors from an array of Troy restaurants, which sets up shop Thursdays in a parking lot on Fourth and Ferry Streets, summer to fall.
When it comes to pizza in Troy, the buck stops with DeFazio’s Pizzeria. DeFazio’s has been making the hungry happy for nearly three decades from its perch in Troy’s Little Italy (it sits next door to DeFazio’s Imports, Troy’s OG Italian food and specialty goods store, which first opened in 1951). Serving up 12- and 16-inch pies, DeFazio’s has something for all pizza lovers—and on Saturdays, you can even find the restaurant at Troy’s Waterfront Farmers’ Market. (If you’re looking to fan out a bit, the clear runner-up choice is Red Front Restaurant, also in Troy’s Little Italy [with a second location in Clifton Park], which is known for its “COB” or “Cheese On The Bottom” pizza. Mmm.)
From the same owners of nearby Peck’s Arcade, Lucas Confectionery, which is connected via a not-so-secret passageway to Peck’s, is the wine bar of record in Downtown Troy, serving everything from reds, whites and rosés to sparklings, spritzes and ciders. For the post-work, empty-stomach set, the bar also features a menu full of small plates and other goodies. Like delicious cookies. Which we’ve been known to order along with our wine.
Plumb Oyster Bar
On any given afternoon (save for Monday), you’ll find Troy’s three-dollar-sign crowd settling into Plumb Oyster Bar’s raw bar and specialty cocktail menu (it also serves up dinner and brunch). Opened by Yale-educated Emma Willard alum Heidi Knoblauch, Plumb has quickly become one of Downtown Troy’s shining stars—so much so that Pioneer Bank recently hired the businesswoman to work with other local startups.
Franklin Alley Social Club
It’s no wonder Troy often draws comparisons to Brooklyn. Take the hip, two-year-old Franklin Alley Social Club (FASC), a cocktail lounge slash karaoke bar slash arcade slash shuffleboard and bocce court that could’ve easily been copy-and-pasted right out of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg or Greenpoint neighborhood. FASC also has a full menu of junk-food gems—and stays open late, Tuesday through Saturday.
Get To Know…Eileen Fitzgibbons And Pat Boyle, Owners Of anatomie Gym
Troy’s anatomie is the rare gym that’s built its community entirely on inclusivity: “There isn’t an age, size or ability limit,” says anatomie Co-owner and trainer Eileen Fitzgibbons, who runs the gym with her husband, Pat Boyle. “It’s really about ‘Are you willing to work hard, be vulnerable and show up for yourself?’ That’s it.”
Not a six-packed bro or hard-bodied brosephina? No problem. But make no mistake: You will leave anatomie exhausted and drenched—but in the best shape of your life. The gym offers a range of classes and personal training options to its growing clientele, with three core focus areas: full-body strength and conditioning (think: kettlebells and sleds), in the main gym; indoor cycling, also in the main gym; and yoga/body sculpt, which takes place in its own candlelit, shavasana-tastic studio. Of all the classes on its schedule, anatomie’s biggest draw is the 45-minute body sculpt, “a high-intensity, sweaty, no-excuses, no BS workout,” says Fitzgibbons. It’s a weekly sellout.
A big part of anatomie’s unique community-building exercise has been to partner with other fellow small businesses in the area. For example, anatomie’s been collaborating with candlemakers Collar City Candle—whose Troy-based owners, dynamic husband-and-wife team, Jamie and Josh Wallbank, are anatomie regulars—on signature candles that it sells exclusively at the gym.
anatomie’s also wholly embraced Troy’s veteran community, offering free, walk-in yoga classes to all vets. It’s a particularly personal cause for Boyle, as he’s an Iraq War veteran. “No matter what you did in the military, you’re carrying baggage with you,” he says. “We’re here to create a space where vets can come and connect their breath to body. To help heal people.”
Get To Know…Garry And Kelly Brown, Owners Of Brown’s Brewing Company
When Brown’s Brewing Company first opened in Troy in 1993—back then, it was known as Brown & Moran Brewing Company—the Collar City was in dire need of a makeover. The 175-year-old warehouse building that husband-and-wife ownership team Garry and Kelly Brown purchased, gutted and renovated, which eventually became their flagship taproom, had been the victim of arson and vacant for a decade. “What I saw in the building was that it was 60 feet from the Hudson River,” says Garry, who grew up in nearby Schenectady. “I’d say to Kelly, ‘There’s only one Hudson River.’”
The Browns’ gamble paid off. While Troy’s true downtown/waterfront renaissance wouldn’t kick into high gear until the aughts, Brown’s brewery-restaurant immediately caught on. “We were busy right out of the gate,” says Garry. At the time, it was a novel concept: a brewery that poured its own product for the public and fed those same hungry patrons at the same place.
That one-two punch of great location and beer eventually led to expansion: In 2010, Brown’s took over operations at Revolution Hall next door, rebooting the music venue into an always-booked wedding/event space. Three years later, right below it, the brewery opened its Malt Room, a private events space—and that same year, unveiled a 20,000-barrel production facility in North Hoosick, NY. By 2014, Brown’s christened that location the Walloomsac Taproom, its second official brewery-restaurant.
These days, Troy’s one of the Capital Region’s fastest-growing areas for business and commerce—and no doubt, the Browns helped make that a reality. We can all raise a pint to that!
A shorter version of this feature originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Capital Region Living.