The story of Panza's Restaurant began in the late 1800's when Ma Panza and her husband, Joseph, came from Italy by way of Brazil and settled in Mechanicville, NY. They came to America with recipes for countless authentic Italian dishes, which were novel culinary experiences for the non-Mediterranean palates that dominated upstate New York at that time.
The Panza's came to Saratoga County unable to speak the language. However, they soon made a name for themselves as they introduced a specialty which was new to the region… Pizza! The first pizza pie baked in Eastern New York State came out of the Panza bakery oven in Mechanicville circa 1897. Back then, the Neapolitan creation had a thin crust, sliced tomatoes, sausage, many spices, and always included anchovies.
The Panza's worked hard at preparing pizza and other Italian dishes which bolstered their reputation in the increasingly competitive world of ethnic cooking. Ironically, the historic Panza's Restaurant on Saratoga Lake is no longer characterized by its Italian menu. While Ma Panza's legacy has been preserved, it has been expanded upon through the vision and expertise of her great-grandsons Anthony and Michael Panza. Today's menus are decidedly innovative and continental, although they still feature many Italian favorites.
Tony and Michael represent the fourth generation of the Panza family tradition. The brothers have made significant changes in the nature of the restaurant in the past decade, including a dramatic expansion of off-premise catering. Their 300-seat banquet room is consistently booked for weddings and special events.
And yet, the family stays rooted in the old world culture. Of the thousands of restaurants in the Capital District area, it is rare to find one that has stayed in the same family and the same geographic location for over sixty years. This continuity of family and business is at once a function of quality, and a triumph of brotherly cooperation.
During the peak times of the Saratoga Racing Season, the Panza family employs as many as 100 people to handle the many culinary adventures which take place at the restaurant and throughout the Saratoga region. It is not uncommon during the busy season for the Panza family to cater up to ten different affairs in a single day! Panza's is truly a piece of Saratoga history.