It’s not a true piano bar unless people can lounge on it. Those are the rules according to Michael Panza, owner of Panza’s Restaurant. Earlier this year, the Saratoga staple for classic New York-Italian cuisine and entertainment debuted a brand-new, custom piano bar that’s already struck quite a chord with customers.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive—a full bar every night so far,” says Panza, whose great-grandmother started Panza’s on Saratoga Lake in 1938. “A lot of people think that a piano bar is just a room with a piano in it, but we made a piece of furniture that’s in the shape of a piano, and people sit around it and engage with the player. It’s very interactive.”
This combination bar and playable piano is the latest addition to a restaurant with a rich entertainment tradition stretching back nearly seven decades. Panza’s Starlight Lounge, named in honor of the original Saratoga Lake eatery’s Starlight Room, features dinner and a jam-packed schedule of live entertainment throughout the summer.
“Our guests know that this restaurant is run by someone who loves to entertain and be submersed in live music,” says Panza, who also performs in the Starlight Lounge’s signature Sinatra & Friends show. “As far as we know, we’re the only place in the area with a true piano bar where patrons sit right at the piano and can give requests or have a laugh with the musician.”