ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Living in the Capital Region my entire life, I’ve always preferred Melba sauce to marinara sauce when it came to mozzarella sticks. I just recently found out that this is about the only place you can find this pairing.
This may be common knowledge to some people, but I couldn’t believe it, which is why I started looking into it. After checking more than 20 restaurant menus in Syracuse and Buffalo with mozzarella sticks on the menu, none of them listed Melba as an option. Even checking menus from outside New York, I still couldn’t find Melba.
Going to the grocery store in the Capital Region, I couldn’t even find a jar of Melba sauce. The only place I’ve found Melba for sale by the jar is at the Hungry Chicken Country Store in Rotterdam. The store said it’s a popular item and sells out fast.
Melba is a sauce made of pureed raspberries and is often used in desserts. According to Snopes, Melba sauce is named after Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian opera singer in the early 20th century.
In my search as to why you can only find this pairing in the Capital Region, I stumbled upon a 2020 article titled “Solving the Melba + Mozz Mystery” posted on CivMix, a community-centered website focused on the Albany area.
The CivMix article found that the first restaurant in the Capital Region to have this combo on the menu was the now-closed HP Mulligan’s in Colonie. One of the restaurant’s owners, Warren Miller, used to work in Virginia at the now-defunct chain Fantastic Fritzbe’s Flying Food Factory. One of the corporate chefs there reportedly came up with the pairing of “battered mozzarella” and raspberry sauce.
Miller then apparently brought that idea back to HP Mulligan’s. Although the pairing started in Virginia, the article found that you can no longer find it there.
The mozzarella and melba combo at HP Mulligans was highlighted in a 1985 Times Union review of the restaurant. After the original owners of HP Mulligans left, the new owner changed the name to The Lexington Grill and kept mozz sticks and melba on the menu, said the article.
From there, the mozzarella sticks and Melba sauce craze apparently took off and stuck in the Capital Region. Here are some restaurants I found in the Capital Region where you can order mozzarella sticks and melba sauce, but I’m sure there are plenty more.
- Spindle City Pizza, 84 Ontario Street in Cohoes
- Carson’s Woodside Tavern, 57 Route 9P in Malta
- Scubber’s, 186 Wolf Road
- Katie O’Byrnes, 121 Wall Street in Schenectady
- McAddy’s Pub, 452 Broadway in Troy
- JT Maxies Bar & Grill, 240 Wolf Road in Colonie
- Ralph’s Tavern, 1328 Central Avenue in Albany
- Ravenswood Pub, 1021 Route 146 in Clifton Park
- Pop’s Pizza, 148 Columbia Street in Cohoes
- Romo’s Pizza, 365 Feura Bush Road in Glenmont
- The Pine, 814 Hoosick Road in Brunswick
- Sweet Willy’s Pizzeria, 85 Sand Creek Road in Colonie
- City Line Bar and Grill, 1200 Western Avenue in Albany
- Canali’s Italian & American Restaurant, 126 Mariaville Road in Schenectady
- Kay’s Pizza, 10 Walsh Lane in Averill Park
- Otis and Oliver’s, 30 Mill Road in Latham
- Paulie’s Pizza, 409 Rosa Road in Schenectady
- Philly Bar & Lounge, 622 Watervliet Shaker Road in Latham
- Carol’s Place, 536 Pawling Avenue in Troy
- Bourbon Street Grill, 2209 Central Avenue in Colonie
- TJ’s Flightline Pub, 20 Saratoga Road in Glenville
- Graney’s Bar & Grill, 275 New Scotland Avenue in Albany
- On Tap Bar & Grill, 400 Old Loudon Road in Latham
- Ship’s Pub, 320 Northern Boulevard in Albany
- Smith’s Public House, 171 Remsen Street in Cohoes
- The Docksider, 298 Glen Lake Road
- Cooper’s Cave Ale Company, 2 Sagamore Street in Glens Falls
If you know of a restaurant outside of the Capital Region that serves mozzarella sticks and melba sauce, shoot me an email at email@example.com. And if you know of another place where I can get a jar of Melba, please let me know.