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Mancuso's Luncheonette: Where good people and great food come together. "It's all good! "

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by JOSEPH DALTON, Special to the Times Union
First Published: Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Mancuso's Luncheonette in Delmar may have one of the worst parking lots in the Capital Region, but that's more than made up for as soon as you walk through the door of the little diner. Audra, the friendly red-headed waitress, quickly makes eye contact and invites you to take a seat. During my two recent visits, she and owner/chef Vinny Mancuso greeted just about every customer by name. The place is teaming with regulars, which means the food, service and prices must overshadow the parking situation. Located behind the Hannaford off Delaware Avenue, Mancuso's is situated next to a boxing studion in a long warehouse-like building. But Mancuso's isn't the kind of place where you have to worry about mud on your shoes. My first visit was for a quick and basic breakfast. The coffee was strong and filled regularly. The fried eggs were huge and the bacon greasy and crisp. The ample counter in back was still at least half-filled with old-timers nursing coffee and passing the time.

The prompt service and cast of regulars were reassuringly in place when I returned for lunch with a friend. Daily specials --always $6.29-- are posted on a board as well as a weekly flier. The cheeseburger came on a toasted poppy-seed bun and was thick and flavorful. All the at Mancuso's comes from Falvo's Meats in New Scotland. The Philly cheese steak is made with shaved porterhouse. The Monte Cristo sandwich ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese, grilled between two pieces of white bread dipped in egg batter with Russian dressing, Burger and sandwiches come with chips or coleslaw. I ordered a plate of fries, which were thick, golden brown and plentiful. For starters, I had a cup of the rich and hearty beef barley soup. It was my favorite part of the meal. The house salad for my friend was piled high with fresh greens mostly romaine. We'd been looking forward to trying the raspberry pie that was on the specials board. To our disappointment, the waitress wiped away the listing just as we finished our sandwiches. All the deserts are made by Mancuso's wife, but Mancuso makes the cookies and brownies himself. I may be well be joining the ranks of the regulars at Mancuso's. Next time I'm there for lunch, though, I'll remember to order my desert early.

Joe Dalton is a local freelance writer who contributes regularly to the Times Union