A Taste of Rochester – Top Foodie Picks

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Rochester, NY may not be the first place that comes to mind for your next culinary travel adventure. But here are several reasons why you should – growing up there has given me some fond memories of delicious, hometown food and restaurants that are worth visiting every time I pay a visit. (In fact, I refuse to visit Rochester without an Abbott’s Frozen Custard in the summertime – vanilla and chocolate swirl, with chocolate sprinkles in a waffle cone, thank you very much!)

Rochester is a melting pot of cultures due to the extensive number of Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, German and European immigrants that settled there in the mid-1800s. For the food lovers out there, you can definitely find some of the best pizza, heroes and wing joints to old-world specialty foods to funky diners and cafes in the trendy parts of the city such as Park Avenue and Monroe Avenue. Here are some of the places you don’t want to miss to get a true taste of the unique array of food in this in All-American town.

Burgers, Hots and Wings

 

Nick Tahou’s Hots: This is a place you don’t want to miss! Home of the famous “garbage” plate, Nick Tahou’s is a Rochester legend founded in 1918 located near the University of Rochester packed with starving college students gobbling up their legendary mile-high greasy plates after a few too many drinks. The garbage plate consists of either two cheeseburgers or hot dogs smothered in onions and their famous Rochester-style meaty hot-sauce, with a side of macaroni salad and home fries, topped with more hot sauce and the works. Word of warning: you may need some Pepcid the next morning, but it sure hits the spot after a night out at 3 am. www.garbageplate.com

Located at: 3070 West Henrietta Rd., Rochester, NY 14623
~ 585-272-1182.

 


Anchor Bar
: This is the home of the original Buffalo Wing recipe, founded in Buffalo, New York in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo. Their wings are big and meaty, crispy on the outside and drenched in the most delicious, buttery hot sauce you’ll ever taste. Make sure to get the generous side of celery and carrots with blue cheese dressing for dipping to cool your flaming lips along with a nice draft lager from the bar to wash it all down for a true experience. Plenty of beer and wing specials daily (.50 cent wings on Tuesdays), and it’s a fun atmosphere in the trendy theatre district area on East Ave. www.anchorbarrochesternewyork.com

Located at: 355 East Ave. Rochester, NY 14604 ~ 585-861-6475


Country Sweet Chicken and Ribs
: Country Sweet is a Rochester-based BBQ joint best known for their special sweet and spicy sauce and succulent barbeque chicken and ribs. The best item on their menu is their colossal-sized crispy battered chicken wings, drenched in their signature sweet and addictive wing sauce so good you’ll want to lick the plate. These are not Buffalo wings and the sauce is an exclusive “Rochester thing”- they are more of a cross between Southern Fried Chicken drenched in a sweet and spicy sauce you’ve never tasted anywhere else. The chicken and ribs are phenomenal too (try the Country Sweet Sampler Dinner with Chicken, Ribs, Wings, Fries, Macaroni Salad and Coleslaw), and you can even purchase a jar of their special sauce to take home with you if you can’t get enough of it on your visit. Located on Mount Hope Avenue, this is one finger lickin’ spot you don’t want to miss when you’re in town.  http://rocwiki.org/Country_Sweet

Located at: 1691 Mount Hope Ave, Rochester, NY 14620 ~ 585.244.3200

 

Italian and Pizza

Mario’s Via Abruzzi: Mario’s serves classic Italian fare and steaks, in an upscale neighborhood establishment on Monroe Avenue. Owners Mario and Flora Daniele originated in the Abruzzi region of Italy, and opened several restaurants in Detroit, MI and Rochester, NY for 16 years before the grand opening of their Monroe avenue location, that is now the most popular Italian restaurant in town. They use the freshest ingredients and make their own pasta and sauces, and their wine list is extensive and impressive. They are most well known for their family style dinners that include 5 courses: Antipasto, pasta, salad, a main entrée such as Chicken Saltimbocca or Roast Strip Loin served with Garlicky Greens and Beans and Mashed Potatoes and topped off with homemade rum-soaked Tiramisu for dessert. The impressive space is great for special occasions; they are open 7 days a week, accept large parties and reserve the dining room for private events and weddings. They also offer lunch specials and take out and delivery service. http://www.mariosviaabruzzi.com

Location: 2740 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618 ~ 585.271.1111


Bay Goodman Pizza
: Established in 1955, Bay Goodman Pizza is a legend in Rochester, known for the best brick oven pizza in town. The establishment is modest, in a small shack-like building with booths and carpeting that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 50’s. But one bite of their crunchy crust and tangy tomato sauce oozing with gooey cheese and loaded with crispy pepperoni in every bite, and you’ll be hooked for life. Some even say Bay Goodman gives NYC pizza a run for its money – don’t miss this one!  http://www.baygoodman.com

Location: 620 North Winton Road, Rochester, NY 14609 ~ 585.288.0730

Cafes/Diners

Jine’s Diner – Park Ave: Located in the cultural and historic area of Park Avenue, Jine’s is a charming cafe and long time favorite of Rochesterians. Their breakfast menu features 24 types of omelettes, including the Wild Mushroom and Crumbled Bleu omelette and an amazing Mediterranean omelette filled with a blend of spinach, feta and tomato and fresh herbs. Belgian waffles, pancakes and Banana bread French toast are also local favorites for Brunch. Their lunch menu features homemade soups and specialty salads as well as a variety of cold and hot sandwiches that are out of this world. Their dinner menu boasts American favorites such as Pork Chops and Meatloaf and they even offer a Greek menu with savory items like Spanikopita and Souvlaki. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  http://www.jinesrestaurant.com

Location: 658 Park Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607 ~ 585.461.1280

 


Highland Park Diner
: This 1940s gem is an art-deco-styled diner near Highland Park that is actually an old train cabin, finished in stainless steel and original Art Deco style furnishings. Nestled between Highland Park and Cobbs Hill Park on Clinton Avenue South, this is a landmark eating establishment with great diner food to boot. They are famous for their homemade corned beef hash served with eggs, hash browns and toast and serve freshly squeezed orange juice and coarse ground corn grits as a special treat for the Yankee folks Upstate. Their prices are reasonable and the food is delicious, and it’s worth going just for the atmosphere and history behind it. http://www.wherethelocalseat.com/Rochester-Restaurants/Highland-Park-Diner-Rochester-NY-WebID-17562.aspx

Location: 960 Clinton Ave South, Rochester, NY 14620 ~ 585.461.5040

 


Daisy Flour Mill
: This fine dining establishment is an authentic historic landmark and a special treat for any visit to Rochester. Located on the Irondequoit Creek in scenic Ellison Park, the restaurant originated from an 1848 Grist Mill, now restored with all of the original equipment still in place. They offer classic American Cuisine such as Prime Rib, Norwegian Salmon, Lobster and Shrimp Scampi and a Mixed Grill of Smoked Ostrich sausage, Venison filet and Sirloin Steak smothered in a special cream sauce they call “Robert Sauce”. Their entrees run from $13-26 and include fresh baked rolls, choice of baked, Vermont cheddar au gratin or cracked peppercorn-horseradish whipped red bliss potatoes. A beautiful atmosphere and unique dining experience for intimate dinners to special private events. http://www.gofattie.com

Location: 1880 Blossom Road, Rochester, NY 14625 ~ 585.381.0180

Ethnic Specialty Shops

The Pierogie Guy: Founded by “The Pierogie Guy” Matt Lewis and his wife, Kelly started their business “Melting Pot Foods” with secret family recipes, crafting their own version of this handmade specialty. Every pierogie (Polish stuffed dumpling, steamed or fried) is made by hand, and stuffed with unique flavorful fillings such as Buffalo Chicken, Sauerkraut and Mushroom, Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Pulled Pork. They make their famous dough dumplings swimming in butter in the “Pierogie Dungeon”, in their basement kitchen in East Rochester. All of their ingredients are all natural and sourced from local produce farms in Upstate NY and they put a lot of labor and love into each one. You can find them at Rohrbach’s Brewing Company and Flour City Diner and they are also available at a dozen local area stores such as Mise En Place and Casa Italiana.  http://www.thepierogieguy.com


The Ravioli Shop
: At this specialty Italian shop, all of their fine fresh Pastries, fresh Ravioli and Pasta, homemade sauce and Italian bread are made daily. They also sell gourmet items such as imported olive oil, sea salts, herbs and spices. They have 14 varieties of handmade ravioli including Artichoke, 5-cheese, Broccoli Feta, Lobster, Pumpkin and Asparagus and Goat Cheese. Their sauce contains only tomatoes and salt and their cream sauces use cream sourced from local dairies: Marinara, Tomato with Roasted Red Peppers, Vodka Cream, Alfredo and Mushroom Cream. A true Italian gem to discover. http://www.theraviolishop.com

Location: 260 Winton Road (near Blossom), Rochester, NY 14610 ~ 585.288.6420

Desserts

Abbott’s Frozen Custard: Established in 1902, Abbott’s Custard serves up the richest, creamiest frozen dessert in town. Their custard is slow churned in barrels with a custard base, and they use a special vanilla extract, real fruit purees and endless toppings such as fudge, cookies, candies and sprinkles to top off their delicious sweet treats. Abbott’s has over 40 locations in the nation, grown from a single location on Lake and Beach Avenues across from Ontario State Park. They also offer sundaes, cakes, pies, shakes, floats and flurrys to cool you off in the summer heat.  http://www.abbottscustard.com

Location: 2195 Empire Blvd., Webster, NY 14580 ~ 585.671.6365


Leo’s Elite Bakery & Deli
: A 60 year old family business owned by Pat and Kathy Bemunzio, Originally known as The Balta Pie Company before the family sold their business to General Mills, Leo’s creates special order cakes such as Chocolate Raspberry Rum and German Chocolate, Cannolis, Biscotti, Cookies, Danishes, fresh baked Italian bread, deli sandwiches, subs and wraps. They also create party trays, specialty gourmet salads and heat and serve dinners including homemade meatballs and sauce, pot roast and pulled pork and baked beans. http://www.leoselite.com

Location: 101 Despatch Drive, E. Rochester, NY 14445 ~ 585.249.1000

Fresh Food Markets

Wegman’s: Rochester’s family-owned mega store supermarket chain is a definite must-see on any trip to Rochester. Founded by John Wegman in 1916 as Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Company, he and his brother opened their first 20,000 sq foot store on Clinton Avenue in 1930. Expanding across Rochester and Buffalo and now across the eastern seaboard to New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, Wegmans is now known as one of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”. Their stores have an amazing selection of fresh, frozen and prepared food and have now expanded into opening First Market Café at some of their store locations. The larger showcase stores have food courts inside, featuring Sushi Bar, an Asian Wokery Bar, Italian food, brick oven baked pizzas, a Cappuccino bar and more. They offer cooking classes and live demonstration events from their own Wegmans chefs in a wide location of stores and have their own magazine “Menu” and online blog featuring recipes, cooking tips and celebrity chef articles. This is definitely not your average supermarket and worth the trip.  www.wegmans.com

Location: Wegmans Pittsford – 3195 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618 ~ 585.586.6680


Rochester Public Market
: Located in the heart of Rochester, the Public Market is open all year around on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Here you’ll find local vendors offering ethnic specialties, farm fresh fruit and vegetables, meat from local farms, and specialty items from home baked goods to flowers, plants, dry goods and jewelry. The prices are fair, due to the fact that consumers can buy directly from producers and bypass the middleman costs and support local and regional farmers.  http://www.cityofrochester.gov/publicmarket/

Location: Pennsylvania Avenue between Niagara St and 1st St, Rochester, NY 14609

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Moussaka + Memories of Greece

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Classic Greek Moussaka
Classic Greek Moussaka

Classic Greek Moussaka, (pronounced moos-sah-KAH) is one of the most well known of all Greek dishes and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as is Lasagna in Italy). This tasty Greek delight is a culinary experience to those who sample it for the first time. I first tried it when I worked at a Greek diner in Buffalo, New York during college, and then once again on a trip to the Greek Islands a couple of years ago. Needless to say, the real Greek Moussaka blew the Buffalo diner version to pieces, so I decided to take a stab at making it myself for my Big Fat Greek Birthday dinner party.

One of the most delicious versions of Moussaka I tasted was in Santorini, Greece. It was served in a glazed clay pot, and had a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it.

Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and ootatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.

I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.

You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you 
make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.

Ingredients:

3 large zucchini (or eggplants)
3 large potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 lg onions, chopped fine
1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red Greek wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 lb butter
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1 quart of milk
4 eggs; beaten until frothy
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Cut the zucchini and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick.
 If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the zucchini slices quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil. Set aside.

Heat the 
remaining oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are
 golden brown. Add the ground meat and cook 10 minutes. Pour off excess fat.

Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, cinnamon, salt and 
pepper. Stir this mixture into the meat and simmer over low heat,
stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the
 mixture from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Make a white sauce by melting the butter
 and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk. Meanwhile,
 bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture,
 stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove 
it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg and 
ricotta.

Grease an 11×16-inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with
 crumbs. Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini and potatoes and meat sauce 
in the pan, sprinkling each layer with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Pour 
the ricotta cheese bechamel sauce over the top and bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
 Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Cut 
into squares and serve.

Serves 6-8.

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Jalapeno-Cheddar Meatloaf w/ Savory Tomato Gravy

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meatloaf tomato gravy

On a cold and rainy Sunday evening last November, I needed to warm my bones and fill my belly with something comforting and delicious, that reminded me of home, and what better dish to make than some homemade meatloaf and gravy? I found a few old recipes in my Mom’s cookbook collection and saw one from Southern Living that had Jalapeño and Cheddar cheese included and thought this was a winner! I added a few ingredients of my own and it turned out absolutely delicious – with just the right amount of spice in the meatloaf topped in a savory creamy tomato gravy, along with some buttery mashed potatoes and sauteed zucchini in garlic and olive oil on the side. A glass of red wine to top it off and voila! I was as snug as a bug in a rug on that cold rainy November night.

Jalapeno-Cheddar Meatloaf with Savory Tomato Gravy

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Jalapeno-Cheddar Meatloaf:
  • 1 pound Ground Sirloin (90% lean)
  • 1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine (6-8 slices)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dales Steak Sauce (soy sauce/garlic marinade)
  • Dash of Montreal Steak seasoning
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • -----
  • Savory Tomato Gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup beef broth
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash of Montreal Steak seasoning

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the chopped onion, garlic and zucchini in olive oil over moderate heat, stirring, 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, sprinkle spicy Montreal seasoning on top, and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees uncovered. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  3. Serve with Tomato Gravy (recipe below) and sauteed zucchini and garlic in olive oil with mashed potatoes.
  4. Savory Tomato Gravy:
  5. Melt butter in small saucepan; whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth and tomato sauce; reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Whisk in salt and pepper and dash of steak seasoning.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2010/11/16/jalapeno-cheddar-meatloaf-w-savory-tomato-gravy/

Recipe adapted from Southern Living and my Mom and Grandmother’s recipes.

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Welcome to Artful Gourmet

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Kristen Hess

Welcome to Artful Gourmet

I’m Kristen Hess: food fanatic, amateur cook, graphic designer, writer, aspiring food stylist and photographer living in New York City. My new blog is the product of plenty of late nights of planning and dreaming, reading and writing, cooking and eating, and styling and shooting. My purpose is to share my passion and love for cooking and food and travel, alongside with my creative expressions of it through writing, design and photography.

I’ll be dedicating myself to updating content weekly, with stories and photos about cooking, favorite recipes and cooking techniques, restaurant reviews, local markets and food finds in New York City and other places I have lived or traveled to around the world. I’d like this blog to be my creative journalistic view on the food scene as well as a source of inspiration to others by sharing my own cooking and culinary experiences, recipes and stories with others as passionate about food as I am.

I’m excited to join the food blog community and am looking forward to sharing my stories and experiences with you all – Bon Appetit!

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