Have a bite: a taste of the new and alluring food in the campus center
By Nia Sanders
The dining services in the Campus Center has transformed a lot quicker than your average college student, as renovations for University at Albany’s new food company, Sodexo, occurred over the summer. Changes are still being made, but several of the vendors have already opened its doors for business. I might be picky, but I never turn down the opportunity to try new and appealing food. I took my chances and tested out a couple of the new vendors – Cusato’s Pizzeria and Deli Stalks and Stems, and subconnection (sic).
Cusato’s Pizzeria and Deli is a local favorite known for its wide array of scrumptious food. I was there for one thing and one thing only – the pizza. Cusato’s is known for its large and thin slices of pizza, so arrive there with an empty stomach. Their version of white pizza instantly grabbed my attention. It consists of a layer of mozzarella cheese topped with chopped broccoli. With an added touch of garlic and parmesan cheese to my slices, in the words of Emeril Lagasse, BAM! They were ready to be devoured. It was like eating a never ending piece of cheesy garlic bread, plus, the broccoli gave it a delicate crunch. Unfortunately, the slices had to perish. I enjoyed their remaining minutes viable in my hands as they disappeared bite by bite. Do not let the big slices distract you from the other items on the menu, which range from chicken parmesan subs to cannolis.
I was interested to see how my sandwich at subconnection would turn out since the previous sandwich vendor, Zepps, was a popular spot among students. Inside my six-inch piece of wheat bread was grilled chicken, which was embraced in a blanket of vegetables (onions, romaine lettuce, and green peppers) and provolone cheese.
The grilled chicken, by far, was the greatest asset to my sandwich. The flavor was on point, from the spices down to the char marks implanted by the grill. The vegetables were fresh and crisp in every bite. The wheat bread overpowered the taste of the provolone cheese, so my next choice of cheese would be pepper jack since it has more flavor. I have some personal preferences, such as red onions instead of green onions and a choice of balsamic vinaigrette as a dressing for my sandwich. Otherwise, I cannot complain. It was a good sandwich. Just as a warning, avoid the long lines at subconnection. It seems to be that popular.
Stalks and Stems is an interesting, yet cool name for a salad place, right? Its tossed salads are a favorite among people who are in need of something light and refreshing. My salad creation went down an assembly line as spring mix lettuce, spinach, broccoli, carrots, feta cheese, and croutons were added to a toss bowl, combined, and then placed in a plastic container. My go-to dressing is Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette [provided as a side dressing], which blends fabulously with the feta cheese. Paul Newman’s expression, a large smile on the dressing package said it all once I was done eating. My salad creation was perfect. This is not a meal I can eat alone, so I also bought some of the fruit they had available. Overall, Stalks and Stems is a great option to have when you are in the mood to enjoy a healthy and refreshing meal.
Based on what I ate, I am going to give the new vendors an A.
The food is definitely an upgrade compared to what was served last year. I still have to check out the other places, but from what I have eaten so far, I am sure they will not disappoint.
For all they know, they could be featured in an upcoming issue.
Photos by Nia Sanders