December 22, 2017
- So, I'm finally getting around to adding more installments onto this thread. Dayna & I went up to Rome, NY to spend the Christmas holiday with my family. I made a quick stop at Vescio's Franklin Hotel
(RF reviewed) in Rome to see if they had any of my favorite local specialty, tomato pie. Many of my friends have told me that their version is quite good. Upon walking into the bakery/pastry counter area, I spied a number of boxes for sale on a table. Score!
They didn't have any individual slices for sale (I forget if they sell them by the slice) but plenty of half sheets, party-cut style (16-slice count). I think this box was about $8.00-$9.00. The dough on this was thicker than most but not at all doughy but nice and chewy, like a really good focaccia bread. The sauce was more savory than sweet and a liberal sprinkling of romano cheese topped it off. The tomato pie from Roma Sausage & Bakery in Utica is still my favorite but this was really good and it's nice to know that there is a solid place closer to my mom's when I'm in town.
Of course, I had to pickup a couple of jars of Turkey Joints, it's a holiday tradition! A discovery that I made is that they have replaced the Brazil nuts they have used for decades with hazelnuts. The jars with the sticker on top indicate that they now have hazelnuts. Not sure if it's a cost or availability issue. I did find a stash of the original version at the local Price Chopper supermarket so I picked up one of each to do a side-by-side taste test for, umm, science. Yeah, science.
The hazelnut version was tasty and reminded me a bit of Nutella. I still prefer the classic Brazil nut version and I hope I can still find them the next time I visit my family. Looks like Santa is getting ready to make off with these jars. Back away, Kringle!
My own holiday tradition is that I sit on the couch at my mom's house a couple of days before Christmas and just gaze at the tree all lit up. Never gets old.
And the lovely tree at my sister's house on Christmas Eve.
A gift I have been giving to my family the past few years are homemade chocolate chip cookies made by Maryann Mazzaferro AKA "The Cookie Lady of Rome, NY"
. Honestly, I wish I could make chocolate chip cookies like these. They are just perfect. I first wrote about Maryann and her cookies back in September 2015 which is on page 4 of this ongoing trip report. February 22, 2018
- I rode the rails via Amtrak on a solo trip to Rome, NY to visit Mom & Harold, see my accountant and attend my third consecutive Moonlight Trail Night, an annual cross-country skiing/trail walking event held at Delta Lake State Park, where I grew up. I was so happy to find out my sister and my niece would be joining us for dinner and we had a lovely evening with them. February 23, 2018
- I got up early and headed out for a quick breakfast of tomato pie, donuts and a pusty at Ferlo's Bakery
Fresh bread anyone?
And warm, soft dinner rolls too.
Such great donut choices and they are really fresh.
I haven't been a big fan of their tomato pie in the past but this slice was crispy on the bottom and had a zesty sauce. I'd come back for more and I like that they will sell it by the slice as many places do not.
I seem to recall Ferlo's selling their own pusties on past visits to their bakery and while buying one pre-wrapped that was made off-site hasn't always worked out for me at other places, I thought I'd give it a shot. This one had a texture similar to shortbread but the dough was a bit damp which was not a good thing. The chocolate filling was okay but not memorable. Think I'll stick to pusties made in-house from now on.
A good looking pusty.
And a nice amount of filling. The trouble with buying off-site is you just don't know when they were pre=wrapped or how long they have been on the counter. Some places (convenience stores, mostly) don't even have a label on them to let the buyer know from which bakery they came.
Ferule's does make some great doughnuts and their headlights are top notch.
When I spied a row of cherry doughnuts I knew I had to have one. Don't see those very often in CNY.
Cakey and with a pronounced cherry flavor, this was very satisfying.
My next stop was a visit to my accountant for tax time and lots of belly rubs and ear scratches to his chocolate lab, Cappuccino. He's a big 8-year old baby who wouldn't let me leave until I gave him lots of attention. Twist my arm!Donna's Cafe
on East Dominick Street in Rome's Little Italy neighborhood had been on my radar for a while as I had heard that they have a pretty good giambotte.
This looks similar to the list I had seen on the door at Eddie's Paramount Diner a while back and if Eddie is catering these dinners I would highly recommend checking out one or three of them. His food is great as are his pies.
According to the menu, it appeared that I may have missed breakfast but the owner said they serve it all day. Whew! This giambotte had it all: eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, sausage, greens, red & green peppers, hot peppers and parmesan cheese. I'd never heard of parmesan in any of the giambottes that I've tried so far (I'm up to six and have found out about 12 others for future visits) so this would be something new to me. It was definitely the first thing I smelled when she brought it out and it seemed overpowering at first, but bite after bite it just made sense and won me over. Bonus points for the thick-cut Italian toast. Donna's is a tiny place that you might drive by without noticing and the parking lot is a bit tricky to exit as one would need to back out onto the street but it is well with it for this dish.February 24, 2018
- A buddy of mine from Rome, Bill Vinci, has a great web series called The Empire Plate in which he and his crew highlight family-owned restaurants, cafes, diners and much more across New York State aka the "Empire Set". I saw his episode on the Marr-Logg Restaurant
in Utica, NY and knew I'd have to try their giambotti for breakfast this morning.
I always take it as a good sign when I see a bulletin board at the entrance to a restaurant that is filled with flyers for local events in the community and business cards from local merchants.
St. Patrick's Day tree? A new holiday tradition?
The guy cooking my breakfast was really nice and was a master of the skillet. Turns out he goes camping with his family at a campground just a few miles from where I grew up in Rome. The restaurant has been around since 1972 and the name comes from the first four letters of the owner's last name (John Marr
affa) and the last four letters of the road where they first opened in 1972 (Kellogg
Road in New Hartford, NY).
This was one very filling breakfast. The Marr-Logg Giambotti includes: eggs, potatoes, sausage, greens, mushrooms, onion, red peppers and long hot peppers and cheese for $1.00 more. Tons of flavor and lots of heat from those long hot peppers. I had the full size but considering I had a few other food stops, I should've went with the 1/2 size. While the toast wasn't thick-cut I do believe it was locally made. Great place with lots of locals and just sitting there and listening I could tell that many of them were regulars.
Off to New Hartford for a half moon cookie at the Gingerbread Bake Shop
Lots of good choices but I didn't see any tomato pie in the case so I suspect that it must be ordered by the sheet as is the case with many local places.
Lots of cakes too though the bake shop did seem empty on this day with just a few item sin the case. I do remember having a half-moon cake for my birthday a few times when I was a kid. Love a GIANT half moon cookie!
Ahh, a taste of home! Moist chocolate cake and soft whipped chocolate and vanilla frostings. Never gets old.
Just a short drive down the same street is the New Hartford location of the Roadfood reviewed Roma Sausage & Deli
, my favorite spot for tomato pie.
Travelin' Manned!! Drat! I should have guessed something was up when I saw that there were absolutely no cars in the parking lot at 12 noon on a Saturday. Closed for 10 days right when I am there. I called their Bleecker Street location but no answer so I guessing they might have been on a family vacation.
In my search for more regional staples (giambotte, tomato pie, half moons and pusties) I found Salvatore's Italian Bread Bakery & Bagel Shoppe
just around the corner from Roma's.
Most Italian bakeries in the region are pretty skilled at making both of these.
I arrived late in the day and they were already out of tomato pie but they still had chocolate and vanilla pusties.
So I opted for one of each. The flat top on the left is the chocolate and the button-top on the right is the vanilla. Even if recipes vary from place to place, the button-top is a distinguishing characteristic that is consistent no matter where you get your pusties.
It was pretty quiet inside and consisted of a small cafe with a few tables and chairs for enjoying some pastries and a beverage. The dough in these versions was similar to shortbread but they lacked that buttery taste and those darkened edges that I really like. The fillings were tasty and they didn't skimp on it.
Next up was my attempt to find a cafe that is an offshoot of Florentine Pastry Shop, a Utica institution. After getting lost a few times, I finally arrived at Cafe Florentine
in a mini mall parking lot. This building used to house a Famous Footwear store and now a small paint supply shop as well as the cafe. Cafe Florentine is part cafe, part wine bar and they have paninis, salads, sandwiches, wine and many Italian pastries. I'm not 100% sure but I think the pastries are made at the original Bleecker Street location.
The cafe has an upscale bistro feel to it which isn't really my thing but as long at the pusties are good then it'll work for me.
Mmmm...lots of pusties: chocolate, vanilla, lemon, apple, raspberry and coconut.
Vanilla. So good. Buttery, crumbly crust, slightly darkened edges and lots of sweet vanilla scented custard.
Coconut. Lots of coconut studded throughout the custard and a liberal sprinkling of toasted coconut on top. My 2nd favorite.
Chocolate. These are the yardstick by which I measure all pusties. Rich, chocolatey custard with that buttery crust is the perfect dessert and while I do love many others, the ones from Florentine are the best I have ever tried.
On the way back to Mom's I picked up some sandwiches for dinner at my favorite sub shop, Big Daddy Sandwiches. Looks like they recently got a fresh coat of paint. Really stands out. While my photos didn't come out very well, the ham salad sub I had was right on. I've been eating here since high school and very little has changed and that's just how I like it. The women behind the counter wear the same uniforms, assemble the sandwiches in the same way and the tuna subs, turkey subs, toasted Reuben subs and ham salad subs are just as good as ever. They did have to switch breads as the bakery across the street that supplied their sub rolls went out of business. They use a bakery in Syracuse, NY but they're pretty good too.
Another big reason for coming to CNY this weekend was to attend the 4th Annual Moonlight Trail Night at Delta Lake State Park. I spent a lot of time camping, walking and skiing the trails, and on the beach at this park over the years. Lots of great memories. Walking through the beach house...
I found a bit of local history. Some people would try to scare kids by saying that if you swam in the lake to be careful that you don't brush your foot up against a chimney from one of the old houses of the village that is below the surface!
Sunset at the park. Just beautiful.
And a nice bonfire to keep warm after walking the trails.
And a horse-drawn wagon ride for the little ones.
The moonlight was perfect and really did illuminate the trail quite well. Almost as if on cue, a flock of geese noisily flew overhead, providing some sounds to set the mood for hiking through the woods.
Positively Rome is the group that organizes this outing (and many others throughout the year) and they really put a lot of effort into making it a huge success. They came by early to set up the luminaries along the trail which really helped define the trail's edge. The only thing they couldn't control was the weather. usually, it is a trail walk/snowshoe/x-country ski event but due to a recent warm spell, the remaining snow had iced over and just wasn't suited for skis, though some people did break out the showshoes. Mother Nature decided to dump a couple of feet of snow on the area the next weekend!
End of the trail. I spent a lot of time in the woods this night, just looking at what nature had to offer and listening to the sounds it made. One of my favorite events all year.
A mainstay at this event is the Come Fry With Me food truck.
Think I'll be getting the poutine.
Very tasty stuff. Fresh cheese curds and some of them had "squeak", crispy fries and a generous amount of salty/peppery gravy. While fried cheese curds have yet to become a "thing" in CNY, fresh cheese curds have been popular here for many decades and it's always a treat to have them, especially in this dish. I ended up sharing a picnic table with a woman and her granddaughter and it turned out that the grandmother attended that same college as me (though some years before me) and had some of the same professors as me. Never know who you're going to meet!
I love including picture of dogs in my trip reports and I thought I'd end this one with a shot of Daisy, my niece's dog, looking at me and begging for belly rubs!
Not sure when I'll be in CNY next but I look forward to more Roadfood adventures in the region ASAP! Til then... The 411
1.) Vescio's Franklin Hotel
301 S. James St.
Rome, NY 13440
2.) Maryann Mazzaferro (aka The Cookie Lady of Rome, NY)
Phone # 315-569-7744
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryann does deliver locally but I'm not sure if she does mail order. You'd have to contact her for more details.
3.) Ferlo's Bakery
522 Floyd Avenue
Rome, NY 13440
Ph # 315-339-8874
4.) Donna's Cafe
612 E Dominick St.
Rome, NY 13440
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DONnas-cafe-163783267122/
5.) Marr-Logg Restaurant
1130 Culver Ave.
Utica, NY 13501
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Marr-Logg-House-111683008868990/
6.) Gingerbread Bake Shop
3991 Oneida St.
New Hartford, NY 13413
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Gingerbread-Bake-Shop-120014064682111/
7.) Salvatore's Italian Bread Bakery & Bagel Shoppe
9270 Kellogg Rd.
New Hartford, NY 13413
8.) Cafe Florentine
8647 Clinton St.
New Hartford, NY 13413
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Cafe-Florentine-263221938583/
9.) Come Fry With Me (food truck)
10.) Delta Lake State Park (camping, trail walks, swimming, picnics, beach)
8797 NY State Route 46
Rome, NY 13440
post edited by billyboy - 2018/04/09 19:47:43