the STORY


In a city steeped in tradition, from its historic healing spas to the horses, there is only one family owned restaurant that has endured for 77 incredible, edible years. Panza. Panza's bakery opened its doors in Mechanicville in 1897. That was the first time Upstate New York experienced the delicious Napolitan style brick oven baked pizza and other secret family recipes our relatives brought with them from the old country. Ma Panza and her husband Joseph were unable to speak English when they first arrived from Napoli, so they allowed their cooking to do the talking for them. Did it ever. Everyone in the neighborhood was talking about this new baking sensation called, "Pizza...". Ma Panza's authentic brand of home style Italian cooking became a staple in the Capital Region, and has continued in their tradition spanning more than five generations and still using the same brick oven Ma Panza cooked in.

The building, once called, The Starlight Room, was opened by Ma Panza and Anthony Gouckey in 1938 as a restaurant where discerning patrons and foodies alike could gather from all around the region to enjoy delicious food made from only the freshest ingredients and served in artisanal fashion. The foundation of the Starlight Room still lives on today as Panza's on beautiful Saratoga Lake.

Panza's Lazy Susan, the family's California outlet was a favorite among the stars in the 1950's, rivaling derby in a who's who of guests and was the place to be seen. During Saratoga's season, the Panza family has fed some of the biggest names in racing, including Willie Shoemaker and Eddie Arcaro, just to name a few. We've also served many beloved stars from Hollywood, sports, business and society including Frank Sinatra, BB King, Liberace, Cab Calloway, Alex Trebek, Lloyd Bridges, Phil Rizzuto, Arthur Mercante Jr., Richard and Kyle Petty, Ronald Reagan, Rupert Murdoch, Alexander Haig, and several of New York's Governors. Today, Panza's has remained an iconic family owned and operated business, where friends regularly come to enjoy tasty home cooked meals, celebrate a special occasion or share in a romantic evening out in our cozy, inviting restaurant on the lake. As 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Saratoga Track, we too are celebrating 77 magnificent, memorable years in business, warmingly serving you, our friends - who we also think of as family.