Who Made the List? Absolutely Delicious Restaurant Selections.
What to Order Where in Rochester.
Our monthly Best Dish List highlights area chefs and the most recommended dishes in town.
Located at the Public Market, Cure, has been putting out consistently delicious and soul satisfying food since first opening its doors. With its modest and homey décor, upbeat jazz playing over the speakers, as votive candles flickering away in the breeze, it’s no wonder this restaurant has become such a success. Being the devourer of sandwiches that I am, I had no choice but to come and try the most talked about sandwich in Rochester, the banh mi. Layers of pork sausage, country pate, pickled vegetables, and a house made spiced mayo, all layered onto a warm and toasty baguette, baked fresh by Flour City Bread, located right next door. Chef James Revels explains how all the ingredients are sourced from local and sustainable purveyors, as is the case with the meat used to make the in house sausage and pate, purchased from Fare Game Food Co, located at the Public Market. The monstrous bite that makes up this heavenly sandwich can be summed up in one word, bliss. Spicy and smoky meat, crisp pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, and a sweet and spicy sauce, the bahn mi at Cure is worth every word of praise it has acquired, for the modest price of $16.
-Jessica Gilgurd, A-List Contributor
The recently opened Branca is already making a name for itself with quality dishes and savory selections. The house-made ricotta featured in the Ricotta speziata pinoli e tartufo, is a highly recommended opening act to your meal. This antipasti selection arrived at the table on a simple, but eye-catching serving board with toasted tribeca baguettes with a side of mushroom truffle sauce. Each of the three elements to the antipasti dish brought something to the conversation. The baguettes; crispy and seasoned the way you’d expect any traditional Italian dish, had hints of familiar flavors without extending too far across your taste buds. After all, the baguette is only a supporting role in this production of flavor.
The next note played is the house-made ricotta. Fluffier than any store-bought cheese, the ricotta is made from scratch with heavy cream from Pittsford Farms Dairy, then churned and separated from the curds using a traditional cheese cloth before being whipped and presented with a visually-pleasing, and tasty, garnish of finely chopped chives. The ricotta has a subtle aroma to it, and a texture that perfectly offsets the platform created by the baguette. Not too powerful of a taste, but certainly an expression of flavor that will keep you interested in the conversation.
Then the truffle joins the chord. The scent of the truffle is subtle, but certainly more demanding to your senses than the ricotta alone. The flavor demands attention and suddenly the conversation becomes much more intense. You’re experiencing a story that your taste buds are unfamiliar with, and they’re hanging on every flavor. Working with truffles is not a common occurrence in Rochester, and Chef Pasquale has a genuine enjoyment of working them into several of his menu items, including this popular appetizer. The combination of all three elements of this dish is where it truly shines. On their own they are all tasty. However, when each element is combined they perform. This dish sets the stage not for dinner, but for an enjoyable dining experience.
Part of the experience is the authenticity in each of the menu items. Chef Pasquale was born in Naples and has brought recipes from home and his travels to the menu at Branca. Popular main courses to round out your appetizer include the gnocchi, the risotto, and a pizza made with an uncooked sauce resulting in an unusual but exceptional result from special plum tomatoes straight from Italy. Be on the look out for more seasonal menu items, but don’t worry about missing out on the Ricotta speziata pinoli e tartufo, as it is a permanent fixture on the menu.
-Nick Palermo, A-List Contributor
Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream, 672 South Ave, Rochester, NY (585) 461-2815
Menu: (flavors of the day are on the website’s main page)
Apple pie ala mode. Is there a more iconic dessert – or a more beloved flavor combination? It has been my experience that the best artisanal ice creams are those that repeat familiar flavor profiles, giving you the unexpected treat of a taste you know executed in a way you’ve never experienced. That is exactly what I got when I visited Hedonist Artisan Ice Creams in Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood. Okay: I’ll admit something here that I’ve never said in any A-list column: when they said “Apple Ice Cream”, I was skeptical. Yes, sometimes I do get tired of being wrong.
I went in, I sampled the Caramel Apple, and not only did I love it, it ended up on the Best Dish List. Which means you should try it too. Do you know that delicious flavor of melted ice cream mixed with sweet apple pie filling? The flavor that happens at the bottom of your bowl when you’ve had a really great slice of apple pie ala mode? That is what is happening here. It’s apple pie flavor in sweet, rich, creamy ice cream, with a freshly made, still hot waffle cone playing the role of pie crust – and playing it even better than the original. Apples cooked down with brown sugar and ginger, threaded through sweet caramel ice cream, in that waffle cone that would have made a fabulous dessert all by itself. It’s exactly what artisan ice cream should be – thoughtfully crafted from the flavor profile to the ingredients to the execution. I was pleasantly surprised by the waffle cone, as I’m not typically a fan (again, see “Wrong; being”) This not the waffle cone of your childhood. Gone is the sugary sweetness and that chemical afterburn. The batter is made in house and these waffle cones are prepared fresh to order. Paired with the Caramel Apple ice cream, this Best Dish will give classic apple pie ala mode a run for its money, and make you nostalgic for fall flavor in a whole new way.
-Allison Zimmer, A-List Contributor
Sapori Cafe, 16 W Main St, Ste 111, Rochester, NY (585) 325-3507
We couldn’t possibly write a column about the flavors of fall without talking pumpkin. And man alive, did we ever have a harvest bounty of pumpkin options to choose from. We made the excellent choice of stopping by Sapori Cafe for their house made, seasonal Roasted Pumpkin Soup with fig balsamic drizzle and grated asiago cheese.
Sapori Cafe is making a name for itself with its seasonal soups, sandwiches and desserts, as well as their extensive catering menu. The Roasted Pumpkin Soup is an excellent example of Chef Joe Gianvecchio’s commitment to quality and to detail – and to scratch making some really fantastic food.
You won’t find canned pumpkin in this soup. Chef Joe is roasting fresh, local pumpkins whole and pureeing them to create a dish that manages to be both satisfying and hearty without being overwhelmingly rich. That’s largely thanks to its chicken stock base, a departure from the heavy, cream based root vegetable soups we’re accustomed to seeing. The roasted pumpkin and chicken stock are gently blended with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic and lastly, sherry wine, the magic ingredient that’s waking up the flavors of this soup and giving it a level of interest uncommon to this familiar dish. I adored the soup itself, but as he so often does, Chef Joe outdid himself by topping the soup with a tangy, sweet balsamic fig drizzle full of harvest flavor, and a grate of fresh asiago cheese. Layers of flavor and texture, and a salty, nutty bite from the cheese made this soup unequivocally a Best Dish.
-Allison Zimmer, A-List Contributor
Village Bakery at the Culver Armory,16 W Main St, Ste 111, Rochester, NY (585) 325-3507
Written on the beautiful walls of the Village Bakery Cafe are the words, “It’s not just what we use; it’s what we don’t use.” Like fine art, sometimes the white space is what transforms ordinary into extraordinary. What they’re not using at Village Bakery is the artificial stuff; the nitrates and the preservatives, and well, everything that really isn’t food, and leaving only fresh ingredients, house made when possible, at a level that we at A-list call “best in quality”. If it seems difficult to understand how you can taste what they’re not using, stop by and see for yourself.
I stopped in on a beautiful sunny September Saturday to sample the Mikayla breakfast sandwich, a hearty, use-your-fork-and-knife masterpiece composed of a fresh, organic, locally farmed egg perfectly poached and topped with thick cut bacon, cheddar cheese, delicious slices of buttery avocado and fresh, house made pico de gallo, all perched atop a freshly baked, house made roll.
Every layer of this Best Dish was clearly best in quality, including Village Bakery’s approach to preparation. There is no assembly line mentality here. This sandwich was cooked to order, just for me. Individually delicious ingredients combined with purpose to create something familiar and yet special – and absolutely wonderful.
There is a wide menu of delicious and inventive breakfast sandwiches at Village Bakery, each one named after the children of the executive team. And while I can’t say whether there will be more children, I for one, am certainly rooting for more sandwiches.
-Allison Zimmer, A-List Contributor
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