Vassar Student Association

Exploring the Hudson Valley: Juliet Cafe Pizzeria and Billiards

Juliet Cafe Pizzeria and Billiards


When you walk out of the campus’s northwest stone gate, the first thing you’ll see is Juliet Café. Once a movie theater, Juliet has a lot of space—and puts that space to good use seven days a week. The restaurant-bar’s entertainment includes 20 billiard tables, ping-pong, arcade games, jukeboxes and air hockey. Ample seating for large parties or friends dining over hamburgers makes it a good place to go if you’re hungry, thirsty or just want to shoot pool.

Speaking as a regular patron, The Juliet Café, Pizzeria and Billiards is exactly what it bills itself to be: Fantastic brick-oven pizza is Juliet’s forte. Customers can choose between eight gourmet pizza pies or they can build their own with 15 different toppings; lunchtime slices are just $1.50. Fortify your stomach beforehand with some buffalo wings and Caesar salad; hot soup is served in wintertime. The restaurant has full lunch and dinner menus, including pastas, salads, hamburgers and milkshakes, so if you’re on a diet, lactose intolerant or just plain sick of eating pizza, Juliet isn’t closed to you.

The food is adequate-to-good—the place really shines in burgers and pizza—and they even have baklava for dessert. Their ice cream is delicious, too. Service is prompt and friendly, and it’s always satisfying to hear the kitchen bell ding and know that your dinner is about 50 feet away.

If you’re thinking about bringing a date, there are a few things you should know: The atmosphere is an amalgamation of a diner and a pool hall, with elements of a ’70s Miami nightclub (meaning if you’re looking for the Ritz-Carlton, this isn’t it). But if you want a burger, some great pizza, games and drinks, Juliet covers it all. It’s casual, you won’t be rushed, you won’t spend a fortune for a nice night. Sometimes they feature live music, but they usually have the radio on, and depending on where you sit, you may get an earful of Mötley Crüe. It’s easy to enjoy yourselves here, but Juliet isn’t exactly a “romantic” scene.

Beyond food, a game of billiards will cost you $6 per hour; you can play all day on Mondays and Tuesdays for $9 per person. The bar is well stocked and also sells cigarettes, but a word to the wise: They card, and they don’t take kindly to fake I.D.s or excuses like, “I left it at home, here’s my Vassar I.D.”

Because Juliet sits on the corner of Raymond and Collegeview Avenues like a keystone brick in the Arlington Business District, holding a unique billiards-pizzeria, burger-‘n’-shake, and bar all-in-one niche among Poughkeepsie restaurants, it’s a joint where you can expect to mix with a local crowd. On game days, the televisions are tuned to the sport-of-the-hour. It makes a good place to watch the Super Bowl and cheer with the rest of Poughkeepsie.

Embrace it while you can: Vassar College, which owns the land, has announced its intention to replace Juliet. Its lease has been extended throughout the 2008/09 year, but its fate is uncertain. If you like it, sign the petition inside to save the restaurant; indicate whether you’re a Vassar student, because your signature might matter in the eyes of the administration.

All in all, Juliet is a favorite place to get hot and hardy food. It’s close and affordable, making it a good place to head with friends on the weekend, whether or not you shoot pool. Meals range from $10 to $30, and the VCard is accepted. Service is prompt and friendly, and the restaurant is open for takeout. The building is also wireless, if you need to check your e-mail while eating saucy pizza. Go and try it out; it’s one of my favorite places in the city.

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