Sampling Syracuse Food Tours

Sampling Syracuse Food Tours: Eat. Walk. Repeat.

When was the last time you tried something new and exciting? Was it last week?  Last month? Last year? When is the last time you sought to learn something new about your city? If you’re like me, it might have been some time since you sought out this new information.

This is where Kate Gillen comes in. Kate owns and operates a business called, Sampling Syracuse Food Tours.  What is it, exactly?  On most Saturdays, from May to October, Kate leads small groups of people on a two-mile walk around downtown Syracuse, visiting some of the more well-known restaurants and coffee shops in town, such as Pastabilities, Modern Malt Bakeshop, Freedom of Espresso, Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Restaurant and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

The tours begin at noon and you can expect to get your fill – plus a light, two-mile walk — while you stop in to sample some of the food and drinks that these restaurants are best known for. 

“I started the food tour business after taking a food tour in Manayunk, PA.  I had such a fun afternoon with friends walking around, learning and eating.  I knew I could bring the concept to Syracuse and show off everything our amazing city has to offer.  Syracuse is the perfect city for a food tour because of its fascinating history and incredible food.  I’m so proud to introduce or re-introduce people to Downtown Syracuse.”  Kate Gillen

I headed downtown for the tour on a recent Saturday. It was a cool morning but the sky was blue as we made our way down Franklin Street to meet up with Kate at our rendezvous point, Kitty Hoynes.

We sat down at a table and were served savory plates of bangers and mash and a Smithwick’s beer sampling. Kate shared the story of the restaurant owner and his journey from Ireland to Syracuse. We also got to know our neighbors on the tour as well as their stories.

Part of the appeal of this tour is not only getting to sample some local fare you may have overlooked but also getting to traverse some of the city, by foot, that we spend so little time paying attention to while we’re caught up in the hustle and minutiae of daily life.

Kate is engaging, cares about the experience of her guests and pays attention to every last detail of the tour. She provides our community with a valuable service that shines the spotlight on the local food and beverage scene downtown – and our city’s culture and rich history.

I could tell you about every stop along the way and every bite of food we ate, but that would take much of the surprise out of it for you when you join Kate on a Sampling Syracuse Food Tour. I will tell you to bring your appetite and save room for dessert.

Go to to book your tour. And tell Kate hello for me!

  • Anthony Christiano







How to make Hasenpfeffer

“Cook! Where’s my hasenpfeffer!?!?” We all know the line from the the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where the overbearing king tasks his lowly chef (a humbled Yosemite Sam) to make a dish he’s never even heard of much less prepared before. In this month’s culinary adventure, the part of the beleaguered cook will be yours truly. Why hasenpfeffer you ask? Well, because the Master of Ceremonies, the Captain, the Man with the Plan, our beloved Editor in Chief fancies that he would like to endeavor to raise rabbits…also hasenpfeffer is really, really good! While considering raising rabbits, Mr. Tringale also considered he had never eaten rabbit and would have no idea what to do with the meat of said critters. I of course, suggested hasenpfeffer. This fantastic German rabbit stew is rich and tasty and will warm you on a cold day as well as stick to your bones. So without further ado, grab a pot and let’s get to it!

First and foremost, we’ll need to acquire a rabbit or hare (with or without genius comedy timing). For this you may use your preferred method, be it carefully tracking the beast through the woods, tricking him into getting into a pot after he comes to your door looking to borrow carrots, or do what we did and go to your local grocer and purchase one. Most often they will be found in the frozen aisle and not sold fresh in the meat case unfortunately. However, if you have a good poulterer or butcher you deal with on the reg they most likely can get you a fresh one. Either way, this may well be the most difficult part of preparing this dish because from here on out it’s quite literally gravy.

Our cast of players:


2 rabbits or 1 large hare

1 cup water

1 cup red wine

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

½ tsp ground allspice

1 Tbsp course ground black pepper

1 Tbsp crushed juniper berries

4 fresh bay leaves

5 whole cloves

½ ts ground nutmeg

2 cloves crushed garlic

½ cup chopped green onions (both green and white parts)

Supporting cast:

4 knobs butter

1 ½ cups flour for dredging


¼ cup sour cream

First thing’s first here, there’s a couple different ways we can deal with this bunny. You can choose to keep the beast whole or you could part it out like a chicken, which is what I did. Should you choose to keep it whole, after the long braising you’ll need to pull the meat from the bones by hand and return the meat to the gravy, which is totally awesome and no muss no fuss when it comes to chowing down. On the other hand, if you part out the varmint you’ll get four nice quarters with legs, a couple of boneless belly flaps (rabbit bacon), two nice pieces of back with some tasty loin meat on them, and some boney ribs with some morsels you kinda gotta work for. So the choice is yours and now we may proceed.

Take all your marinade ingredients and whisk them together in a bowl. Next, we’re gonna put our rabbit whole or in parts into a nonreactive vessel (read glass, stainless steel, or copper) and pour our marinade over it and toss everything about making sure we get the goodness in all the nooks and crannies. Next, it’s off to the fridge to soak up some flavor and adjust our attitude. Now we do nothing. That’s it, just walk away for a couple days. Yup, two days, 48 hours, the rising of two suns. Just go in and turn everything about every several hours to make sure all parts get fair treatment.

After you’ve spent the last two days trying to keep yourself busy it’s time to get back at it. Remove the rabbit from the marinade and pat it dry, making sure to reserve our precious liquid love. Set the oven to preheat at 325. Now take a skillet, or better yet a dutch oven, and put it on a medium heat with our butter in the pan. Meanwhile let’s take our rabbit and dredge it in our flour seasoned with a little salt until it’s all good and coated and happy happy. Now we simply brown the beast in the butter, mind you we’re not looking to cook the thing here just get a nice golden brown crust. When we’ve got some good color on it remove the meat to a plate…unless you used a dutch oven for browning, in which case just strain the marinade through a colander into the pot, cover, and stick it in the hot box. If you browned the rabbit in a skillet then we need to transfer it to an oven safe pot or large dish, cover and…well you know.

Being as rabbit hasn’t a bit of fat, and the sucker is nothing but a bunch of really, really lean muscles that have done nothing but hop vigorously it’s whole life, we need to go for the long braise here to get it nice and fall off the bone tender. Let’s start checking it at about two hours in, if the meat is tender and melty then remove from the oven. If it still seems a bit tough and stringy give it another thirty minutes or so and check it again and on and on until it’s ready.

Now is the time that we can choose to debone the meat or not. If that’s the direction you choose to go then do so and return the deboned meat to the pot with the gravy. If leaving it in pieces then we skip to the next step of adding our sour cream to the whole concoction and giving the whole thing a stir.

That’s it! We’re all done. Congratulations! You’ve just accomplished what Yosemite Sam couldn’t. Now what are you gonna do with it? If you’re so inclined you could serve it atop spaetzel, a tiny German dumpling that is most definitely a labor of love to make…trust me. You could also serve it with potatoes, rice, noodles…hell put it in a bowl by itself and eat it for that matter with a piece of nice crusty bread. Should one feel they need a side dish I highly recommend purple cabbage stewed with apples, caraway, and a bit of vinegar. The sky’s the limit! Until next time, enjoy your hasenpfeffer and eat well my friends!

If you have any questions about this dish, feel free to e-mail Junky Joe!

  • Junky Joe.

The Market Diner

I love routine. Knowing that every Monday morning I will be meeting a friend for breakfast at The Marker Diner is comforting. For me, it’s about the routine.  We meet at 8:30 a.m., before we have to head off to work.  I walk in, find our table and sit down.  Our waitress brings me a cup of coffee and she knows I drink my coffee black so she doesn’t leave me with a handful of unwanted creamers.  When my friend arrives she brings his coffee but knows he uses four to five creamers for each cup of coffee.  She has my order memorized: two eggs, scrambled with peppers and onions, dry rye toast, and, on some occasions, sausage links. 

I know I cannot be the only person that has such basic routines because every morning I stop at The Market Diner, I see the same group of four men sitting at their same table talking and having breakfast. I don’t know if they work or not. They look to be around the age where they are getting ready to retire but have not hit that magical number just yet.  They are usually still there talking and laughing when my friend and I leave, around 9:20 a.m. 

The Market Diner doesn’t make you wait very long for your food to arrive after placing your order. I’ve been few times on busy Saturday mornings and everything arrives promptly even when they have a diner full of people. To help speed the process of getting your food to the table, the waitresses use iPads to take your order. When your waitress types in the order and hits send, the ticket arrives on the line and your food is cooked to order. It may sound like a small detail, but according to the staff it saves a ton of time and makes everything run faster.

This is not the first time I have written about The Market Diner. I’ve actually written two previous posts about them. It helps that The Market Diner was one of the first restaurants in Syracuse to support Eat Local CNY. It also helps that they are six minutes from my house and on my route to work.  It also helps that I consider them the best diner in Syracuse. Are they making Instagram worthy plates of food? Not necessarily. Are they a modern diner attracting hordes of millennials to their restaurant?  No, not that either.  The Market Diner is a diner that is comfortable. They serve tasty dishes at prices that make it possible to bring the whole family and not have to work a few extra hours at work that week. They remember you, what you like and where you sit. They support their community and they do what they do well.

My view of The Market Diner may be a bit biased, but they have been in business for 44 years, so they must have been doing something stellar for all those years. It probably helps that they have never sold out. The restaurant has stayed in the same family all these years and they have been there every day working. I have frequent conversations with Tony Imbesi, the owner of the diner.  Most of our conversations are centered on one central theme: How can he make his diner better?

Our community has a large pool of restaurants to choose from. My hope is that you give The Market Diner a chance. If you’ve never been there, if you haven’t visited in awhile, if you are a regular, go back and tell them I sent you.

– Anthony Tringale

When The Bubbles Breaks

Will the NYS craft beer bubble break?

As you have probably heard by now, the craft beer and spirits business in New York State is booming. With the help of government grants, breweries have sprung up all over the map, to the tune of  eight to 10 new businesses a month, and with a failure rate estimated at 30 percent.

Brewing (as well as wine and spirits) is important to our state’s economy and tourism economy. Farm breweries, craft breweries and microbreweries employ thousands of people. But at what point does the constant opening and closing of wineries, breweries and distilleries become counter productive? Government involvement in privately owned businesses can slow the process of opening and cause a lot of “red tape,’’ but it seems to me, after observing how some of the operations in Central New York have come to fruition, that the process may now be more streamlined.

This can be good and bad.  Economic growth, tourism and the creation of jobs can exponentially help a town, county or region to the tune of several million dollars a year. But what happens when these operations don’t make it?  It concerns me that saturating a market can cause huge impacts on these businesses net profit margin, causing them to be unable to pay the huge loans they are taking out on top of the government grants. The issue will never be if their product is good enough. As my father always said: “Beer is like sex. Even the worst I had was still pretty good.”

So what will cause the bubble to break? A study conducted by the National Brewers Association (NBA) found that craft breweries make up about 13 percent of the beer market today and hope to top 20 percent by 2020. This seems feasible, since we already exceeded pre-Prohibition numbers in 2015.

As for New York, there were 38 local breweries in 2000, and after the farm brewery bill was signed in 2012 that number jumped immediately and exponentially. As of today, NYS is home to around 326 local craft breweries and up to 200 licenses pending, which still misses our pre-Prohibition number by about 124 breweries. The craft beer market sector is on the rise, but we have to consider that the high number of breweries in New York State at the turn of the century was mostly exporting to the western states, so that number might not be as obtainable as you think.

In another study done by the NBA, it was found that artisanal products like coffee and cheese can reach as much as 50 percent of the market, so there is a possibility for massive growth. This growth will be contingent on a large portion of these breweries staying small and local due to the possibility that over saturation could cause many of these breweries to close their doors. This causes a bit of a conundrum, because as anyone in business will tell you, “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.”

This leads me back to the economic impact of these operations. Yes, they are generating huge revenues right now. Yes, they are bringing tourism to New York State. What happens to all of these employees if and when breweries close?  Most of the employees that work at these breweries have moved to small towns and out-of-the way farm breweries for the opportunity to get in at the ground floor. These should be major concerns for the future because closures will affect a region’s unemployment rate, housing market, supporting businesses, farmers, etc.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I am not for economic rebirth or the government doing what it can to help industries grow.  Our country is built on growth and capitalism, but like a fat kid in a pair of skinny jeans, at some point there will be no place left to shove it in and the results could be disastrous. I never want to discourage people from taking a chance or supporting local businesses, but the next time you see a new brewery, winery or distillery pop up, I want you to think about what happens when that bubble breaks.

– Micah McKamie

**** The original post of this artical mentioned the local brewery, Local 315 Brewing Company, had opened with the help of New York State grant money.  This information was not accurate and Local 315 Brewing Company opened with no help financially from New York State. ****


Dinner with the candidates: Chris Fowler

posted in: Anthony T, Restaurant | 0

Hi Mom and  Dad,

How are you doing?  I hope all is well and you’re both in good health.  I never did hear the results of Dad’s visit to the doctor last week.  I’m sure I’ll hear all about it from Jennifer when I eventually talk to her.

I wanted to let you know that I had dinner a week or so ago with Chris Fowler.  I’m not sure if you know who Chris is, although I am sure you have heard his name. Most everyone who lives in Syracuse knows the guy.  Remember that door sticker we saw for Syracuse First?  That’s the organization Chris founded. Syracuse First advocates for local businesses and encourages people to “buy local.”

I had sent Chris a Facebook message and asked to take him to dinner.  I wanted to write a blog about each person running for Mayor of Syracuse and I decided to call it “Dinner with the Candidates.”  At the time I thought it would be interesting, but now I realize it’s more difficult than I thought it would be. I mean, The Post-Standard has a new article out what seems like every day talking about the candidates and where they stand on certain issues, so it has been challenging to find an interesting way to write about these people without being boring and without repeating what has already been said.  Do you think our readers will care what party the candidates are affiliated with? I don’t, but that’s just me.

Anyway, I think you would both really enjoy Chris, especially you, Dad. Chris is the type of person who is genuinely concerned about Syracuse.  I have never met someone who loves the city more than him. He cares about local business owners and local restaurant owners and has said his vision for Syracuse is for it to become a food and beverage destination, with a focus on restaurants and food entrepreneurs. I asked Chris if it’s OK that I get my coffee from a coffee chain.  He said, “sure, so long as it’s a local chain.”

I just think about when you had the diner in Kentucky and all the other small businesses you’ve been involved with over the years and how much more successful you could have been with someone like Chris advocating and fighting for you.

I won’t bore you both with all the details of what Chris and I talked about over dinner, I think we were there for three hours.  I will say that Chris is for the city and the people of Syracuse.  He’s for the local guy, the local business owner, not for the mega chain and franchise businesses that come in and snag up all the tax breaks.  I asked Chris the question, “assuming you win the race and become mayor, what would be your biggest fear?”  His response: “that what I think is actually right for Syracuse turns out to not work.”  What politician admits that?  I mean, have you ever heard of someone being so honest and humble in politics?

I enjoyed speaking with Chris about his hopes and dreams for Syracuse and I hope it turns out that I can do the same with all the candidates for Mayor of Syracuse.

Love you both…I will call soon!

Your Son,


P.S.  Dad, Chris is ALL about local restaurants and we even talked about something called a “restaurant day.”  We had dinner at Eleven Waters, in the Marriott Syracuse Downtown (Hotel Syracuse).  The restaurant’s name is a reference to the Finger Lakes and the focus is on local food and wine. Dinner was great and so was our server, Brian.

-Anthony Tringale



Dear restaurants and customers: Step up your game!

posted in: Beyond The Pass, Micah | 0

As a chef and foodie, I have noticed a disturbing trend in locally owned restaurants.  It is a shortcoming that is being allowed, not only by owners and management, but by chefs, who should be taking pride in their work and setting the standard for dining. The idea of running a restaurant should be approached with one simple ideal in mind: the customer is right and we will do what must be done to bring the best service and food to our customers. This is not always the case.

I do not think many restaurant owners and chefs go into business with the mindset of serving low quality food at high prices, but that is what is happening at an alarming rate in Syracuse and Central New York.  Can a restaurant that calls itself “farm to table” really be considered “farm to table” if they are serving vegetables that are out of season?  What if the restaurant is buying its food from the mega food suppliers?  Would you, the consumer, be able to tell the difference? What if the restaurant’s “fresh crab cakes” are actually crabmeat from a can? Can you taste the difference?

These are some of the ways restaurants provide poor quality food to diners on a regular basis. In my opinion, the consumer has the right to know what they are getting when they order a meal.

Oftentimes, restaurant owners and cooks cut corners, make claims, use gimmicks and misrepresent products as something they are not in order to get you to buy things that aren’t what they seem. Too many times I have been to restaurants where they claim to have fresh fish and with my knowledge of food I can tell that it is a frozen product.  I am all for supporting local businesses and restaurants. I am not in favor of supporting any restaurant that claims to serve something they are not actually serving.

We, the customers, should drive the industry by our desire for a better product, a certain kind of food, and an elevated quality of service — and demand restaurants to live up to our expectations. Do not settle for mediocre food service.  Demand that restaurants step up their game and provide something exceptional.  If the food isn’t as described or what you expected, send it back; expect the restaurant to be what they say they are.

I have found many times that restaurants will try to follow fads by lying to their patrons about being farm to table, locally sourced, or from-scratch cooking. This is flat out deception. Challenge them to prove it!  Ask questions: Where does it come from?  Who grew this?  Who raised this beef?  The restaurant must shoulder the responsibility and prove to you that they are doing what they say they are.  If your “fresh” peas taste like frozen peas, than most likely they are frozen peas.  If your vegetables taste bland and have no color, then most likely it is sub-par produce.

Trends in the restaurant industry are based on the customer response and the amount of money being spent at these restaurants.  When a local restaurant continues to serve frozen vegetables that are void of flavor and most nutritional value — and customers continue to eat at the restaurant — others follow that practice.  Other restaurants follow the trend of buying and serving frozen, flavorless vegetables.

So what trends can we create as customers?  What can we say to the restaurants that are serving low-quality food and charging us too much money? There are some restaurants that take a good deal of pride in what they do.  These restaurants strive to bring you the best dishes sometimes at the expense of their time and hard work.  These places are sometimes overlooked due to the cost but should be rewarded for their honesty and attention to detail.  These are the places in which you get what you paid for and there is no doubt that they have been honest about the process.

In my opinion and for many of my counterparts, if something costs a little more, then it’s probably fresh.  Local produce costs more.  Local meat costs more. The disturbing thing is that people don’t realize that you pay for better quality and fresher food.  The restaurant industry is in dire straits due to a lack of knowledge, a lack of understanding that you as a patron have the power to say, “I want this to be better.  I want this to be worth my money.  I want this to meet my standard or I am going elsewhere.’’

So join me in going the extra mile to support those restaurants that are doing it right. It’s important to leave a place not just full, but satisfied in other ways, happy that you made the right choice and not feeling cheated when you get into your car.

– Micah McKamie


10 Instagram accounts you should follow if you LOVE local food.

posted in: Margaret | 0

Warning: You’ll want to lick the screen!

  • @foodlaraloves

Reasons you should follow: This “hopeless foodie from Central New York, USA” has a fantastic eye for food. She snaps everything from her own yogurt bowls and layered parfaits in jars to decadent treats, like baked goods from The Toast, in Canastota. And her captions contain useful info, in case you want to try something at home.


  1. @emmafrisch

Reasons you should follow: Emma Frisch, a finalist on “Food Network Star” (season 10) lives in Ithaca, is co-founder of Firelight Camps (glamping) and Mom to a toddler. Her Instagram features everything from farm to fireside to foraging to fork — plus a dose of travel and baby.


  1. @moosencuse

Reasons you should follow: “The Munching Moose” is a former chef and occasional food blogger who loves to cook, dine out and add some delicious to the interwebs. Follow along for gourmet grilled cheese, zucchini enchiladas with mojo chicken and kale, homemade bread, sweet treats for a lady friend and more.


  1. @blahnikbaker

Reasons you should follow: Zainab Storms is a wife, mom, neuroscientist, shoe lover, food blogger and self-taught baker. You’ll swoon over her delectable looking desserts, like strawberry lemon donuts, spring flower cupcakes and pina colada cheesecake.


  1. @mjcusefoodie

Reasons you should follow: A photographer and IT guy hits an array of restaurants in Central New York and shares mouthwatering photos. Recent posts have spotlighted the ginormous reuben at Shaughnessy’s at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, a pork chop on a bed of apples at the Dark Horse Tavern in DeWitt and the Galbi Bibimbap bowl at Tokyo Seoul, DeWitt.

– Margaret McCormick


For five more LOCAL FOOD Instagram accounts worth a follow, visit Margaret’s blog, Eat First:


What is Overpass Fest?

posted in: Christiano, Pulse of CNY | 0

Overpass Fest: Where local creatives come together

We humans are social animals.  We value community and we seek shared experiences. Edward M. “Ned” Hallowell, a child and adult psychiatrist (and best-selling author) talks at considerable length about the powerful connection that occurs when people gather together. Hallowell often cites studies showing how introverted personalities who pretend to be extroverts for the sake of an event or function have become much happier individuals as a result of their pretending.

I recently had the pleasure of joining a group of people for Overpass Fest, which has been described as “…a fully walkable/rollable interactive version of ‘Pandora’ or ‘Spotify’ where you can walk or ride your own setlist.”  Overpass Fest is more accurately a free-form meet-up of local artists, poets, singers, musicians, and photographers, who come together on Thursdays along the Onondaga Creekwalk in Franklin Square, to perform, collaborate and enjoy the beauty of art and entertainment in an outdoor environment.

Organizing events like is not always easy, but Overpass Fest choreographer Michael John Heagerty excels at bringing people together for such events. Heagerty has his finger on the pulse of almost everything in and around Syracuse.  Chances are if there is something of significance and popularity happening in Syracuse, Heagerty will have something to do with its creation or implementation. He is involved with the Big Yellow Fellow Barcycle Tours in downtown Syracuse (which were a big hit at the New York State Fair last year) and with InfinitePop, a pop-up shop that Heagerty has described as a celebration of local artists and the anti-ordinary. It’s currently located at 183 Walton St., in Armory Square.

As I approached the gathering at Overpass Fest, the first thing I noticed was a man (a licensed clinical massage therapist) giving free massages. People were painting on a large white piece of paper that stretched almost 10 feet in length and around three feet in height.  People were dancing and singing in a communal circle — improvisational and jam-band style.  Others were drawing with chalk on the walls, contributing their own talents to the artistic expressions of the group.  The experience of Overpass Fest is contagious, and I found myself moved by the artists and musicians.

In the future, Heagerty hopes there will be almost a continuous, fair-style community that loops around Onondaga Lake, all expressing themselves and entertaining through the arts.  This would be a tall task, but if there is one thing Heagerty is known for it is making his dreams and visions come true.  The people of Syracuse are a strong bunch.  We endure so much cold, snow, and gray skies throughout the year.  For me, it is inspiring to see such a group of artists and entertainers coming together outdoors and sharing their talents with the community.

What makes the Overpass Fest so enticing and necessary is what it offers to the people involved.  Would you like to express yourself through a specific art form?  Come down and express yourself.  Would you like help coming out of your shell?  Come down and participate anyway you’d like.  Would you like to simply enjoy the environment and soak in the music?  Come down and soak away.  All are welcome to Overpass Fest, as participants or observers.  Michael John Heagerty has created something truly unique, truly beautiful, and truly Syracuse.

Overpass Fest takes shape 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays along the Onondaga Creekwalk in Franklin Square. It’s free and open to all. 

– Anthony Christiano


Recipes – Pollo Asado al Carbón

posted in: Junky Joes Corner, Yesterday | 0

May. That wonderful month of the year that is the true heart of spring. The time when April showers give way to May flowers, or in our case here in central New York hopefully all the snow has melted off and the ground has thawed. May comes marching in to greet us with a little thing we like to call Cinco de Mayo. A glorious celebration of the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla over the French in 1862…who am I kidding, it’s a day for gringos to indulge in free flowing margaritas and eat tacos, tacos, tacos!

I myself am a transplant from the sunny climes of southern California. When it comes to tacos in California carne asada is king. Marinaded and bursting with classic Mexican flavors, charred bits of skirt steak on a small corn tortilla sourced from a local tortilleria with a simple topping of chopped onions and cilantro and served on a paper plate with a wedge of lime and a couple radishes. It is hands down one of the grandest eating experiences one could hope to have. Today however, I offer up the clucky cousin of the classic beef asada taco, pollo asado al carbon! Sounds fancy doesn’t it? No worries, I’m going to show you how to turn a humble chicken into a taco that will rival those of any taqueria from SoCal to Austin. So grab a cold cerveza and some lime and let’s get to it!

First thing we need to do is acquire a whole chicken. Not one of those circus freak chickens fed on a steady diet of hormones and then pumped up with salt water. No, what we are after here friends is a small fryer about 2.5 pounds. Now this is the most difficult part of the recipe, we need to cut the backbone outta this bad boy, and for that we’ll need to grab some poultry shears or at the very least a really strong pair of scissors. Can’t get that backbone out of the chicken? Just sweet talk your butcher into doing it for you (and save that backbone for stock at a later date!) Now that we’ve got our spineless chicken let’s build a spa for it to soak in for a while…

Our cast of players for the chicken:

½ cup lime juice

½ cup seville orange juice

3 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoon cumin seed (lightly crushed)

2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoon achiote paste (or crushed annatto seeds)

1 ½ tablespoon ancho chile powder

½ teaspoon ground allspice

5 large garlic cloves (crushed)

2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk in a mixing bowl and take half of it and set it aside. Pour the remaining marinade into a ziplock bag and toss our formerly feathered friend into the pool and massage it around a bit to make sure we get flavor in to all the nooks and crannies. Now it is time to refrigerate and step away for a couple hours to enjoy a frosty adult beverage or two while we prepare our grill.

I used a charcoal grill to cook our bird, I prefer the flavor of charcoal to that of a gas grill.  By all means, use a gas grill if that is what you have available.  If you’re using a charcoal grill follow the next set of directions.  Remember, we are cooking with indirect heat so don’t place the bird directly over the flame.

We need to get a good pile of coals going and let them get grey and ash over. At this point we’ll be separating the coals into two piles on either side of the grill. We’re going to be cooking this beast on indirect heat for 45 minutes or so without flipping it over and we don’t want it to burn. We’re looking to get our temperature to about 325 degrees. Once the coals are primed and separated (and the grill is clean) it’s time to toast the bird.

Place the chicken (breast side up) on the grill between the coals and close the lid. Every 10-15 minutes use the reserved marinade to baste the chicken. After 45 minutes flip the chicken onto the breast side and cook for 10 minutes more. Check to make sure the juices in the bird are running clear and remove the chicken to a sheet pan or cookie sheet to rest. The chicken should rest for about 15 minutes, then we simply debone the meat and roughly chop it up. Now it’s time to assemble some tacos!

Use your choice of flour or corn tortillas to make your tacos, I myself prefer a nice homemade corn tortilla. I use a simple topping of shredded cabbage lightly dressed with a little vinegar, lime juice, and salt. I top the whole thing off with a jalapeño aioli loosely based on the coveted dona sauce from Tacodeli in Austin, Texas. It couldn’t be simpler to make and it really rounds out all of the flavors of this taco. Step lively with this one though as it’s got a little bit of ass on it!

The cast of players for the aioli.

10 jalapeños

2 large cloves of garlic

¼ cup of vegetable oil

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in our jalapeños and one clove of the garlic. Reduce the heat and simmer the peppers for about 10-15 minutes then remove from the heat into cold water. When the peppers are cool enough to handle deseed them and put all ingredients into a blender and put the spurs to it. Drizzle the oil in a light and steady stream into the blender as it’s whipping away at our pepper puree. After a minute or so of drizzling the oil into the mixture you’ll notice it begin to thicken and take on a pale light green hue. Let it whip for another minute or so and it’s done.

Now it’s time to kick back and enjoy the spoils of our labor. Crack open a cold cerveza, pour a margarita, or if that’s not your thing enjoy a nice agua fresca and throw back some delicious tacos! I hope everyone enjoys this pollo asado al carbon and have a fabulous Cinco de Mayo! Buenos dias and eat well amigos!

-Junky Joe

3 Best Tacos in Syracuse

posted in: Anthony T, Yesterday | 0

When I was very young my family lived in Kentucky, that’s where I grew up until we moved to Syracuse when I was thirteen years old.  In Kentucky, we would sometimes drive north into Ohio to visit my aunt and uncle.  My uncle Jim had a Mother that was from Mexico and her name was Anita.  Anita would come to visit and make some of the most delicious Mexican food I’d ever had.  Thinking about Anita today I remember a time she had cooked all day in the kitchen to make dinner for all the guests.  She sat down in the living room as we devoured her tortillas and mole and my father said: “Anita, why don’t you come and eat with us?”  Anita responded, “I don’t eat that shit.  I eat at Taco Bell.”

What better time to find the best tacos in Syracuse than just before Cinco de Mayo?  I took one month traveling to every Mexican or Latin American restaurant in Syracuse (and just outside of Syracuse) in search of the best tacos in town.  I ate at every restaurant at least twice and tried a variety of tacos on each restaurant’s menu to give everyone a fair shake.  And the 3 best tacos in Syracuse are…

Azteca Mexican Grill.  Azteca in Camillus serves the BEST tacos in Syracuse.  At Azteca, they are making their own corn and flour tortillas and let me just say it is very simple to make a mediocre tortilla for anyone reading this post and the fact that a Mexican restaurant in Syracuse is buying their tortillas from a food supplier is arguably the worst possible action taken against Mexican cuisine.  Azteca is taking the time and pride to make their own tortillas and you can taste the difference in the taco itself.  You know when you have a fresh flour tortilla because you notice it as much as you notice the carnitas or carne asada.  A great tortilla will stand out and not blend it.  The carne asada taco at Azteca was delicious with the right amount of lime and cilantro in the steak.  The carnitas was salty but not too salty and the tacos were simple.  On the plate sat four tacos, two flour, and two corn tortillas, opened flat and waiting for me to garnish with fresh onion, cilantro, and tomatillo salsa.  Azteca keeps it simple and allows the tortillas and the flavor of the meat to stand for themselves.  I would avoid the ala carte tacos with the shredded chicken and stick with the plate of carne asada or carnitas.  Not because the shredded chicken taco was bad but compared to their carnitas and carne asada the shredded chicken is not standing up.


Boom Boom Mex Mex.  It somewhat pains me to say Boom Boom is one of the best tacos in town.  They have a nacho cheese dispenser behind their counter.  They also, from what it appears, serve store-bought flour tortillas.  I saw it come out of a package that looked store bought and the girl that made my food was not sure if they made their tortillas in-house our not.  (If the tortillas are made in-house, please forgive me and make better tortillas).  However, the chipotle chicken was hot and spicy and everything I could have asked for.  Not only was it the only restaurant I tried that offered such a bold flavor but it was cooked perfectly. The chicken was not dry but juicy, the chunks of chicken were perfect to the proportion of the taco, the chipotle was on fire and still had a smokey taste despite the heat from the chile.  I would love Boom Boom all the more if the tortillas had a stronger flavor and if it was not a quick serve style.  As a skeptic of Boom Boom leading to my first visit, I am happy to say I was totally wrong.

Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant in Liverpool.  I ordered the 3 shredded chicken soft tacos with flour tortillas.  What made these tacos so astounding to be voted the third best in Syracuse?  Homemade flour tortillas, properly marinated chicken that was not spicy as a chipotle but held the right flavor to know it was legit and cooked properly.  The standard garnish of lettuce and shredded cheese but not too much like most in the area.  It was simply a good taco.  Rio Grande reminds me of some of the more basic Mexican Taqueria’s I would eat at while living in Texas.  Nothing to knock your socks off but tasty and solid.  Rio Grande makes my list because they simply did not screw up.

Choosing the 3 best tacos in Syracuse is not for the faint of heart…or stomach.  There are more than a few baaaaaad tacos in town and you’ll have to deal with those if you’re searching for yourself.  Enjoy this Cinco de Mayo with some cold beer, a classic margarita, and grab some tacos!

-Anthony Tringale

Casino Guide Podcast


Millennials; if you pour it they will come. In droves, as it was at the Tap into the MOST event last month. But that's not the only crowd this event drew to Downtown Syracuse. Far from it. The crowd spanned multiple generations and this event helped bridge the gap for the love of craft brews. Tap into the MOST is an event that benefits the MOST in a multitude of ways. It is an annual event that has spanned thirteen years.  Despite the success this event brings every year, the thirteen-year run is an accomplishment unto itself.

"The proceeds from the event - this year a record of nearly $90,000 in net proceeds - supports the museum operations. Particularly funding for our various education programs and for our ongoing museum preservation in the iconic Armory."  - Lauren Kochian (executive Vice President).

Tap Into The MOST is a 3-hour event hosting some of the premier restaurants in Central New York and offering craft brew samples from many local brewers. As I stood in line the sun was setting between buildings, casting long shadows on a line of people virtually around the building. It was almost as if people had emerged from their hibernation eager and thirsty from another long Syracuse winter. Those of us fortunate to secure a ticket to the sold-out event waited eagerly for vendors like Bull and Bear, Kitty Hoynes, Carnegie Catering, Creole Soul Cafe, Dinosaur BBQ, Peppino’s and more.

Fitting all your tastings and samples was a challenge with the long lines of hungry and thirsty patrons, the majority were 20 and 30-somethings, all standing elbow to elbow for their turn. As I walked around the event it was exciting to see people exploring exhibits that they may not have seen had it not been for this event. Combining science and beer almost seems like a no-brainer. Vendors were frantically serving busy lines of people waiting to try their favorite food and beer or maybe a new restaurant or brewery they had never sampled before. I saw people enjoying food and beverages while checking out and interacting with science exhibits - mingling, laughing, and just enjoying themselves. Tap into the MOST provides a one of a kind atmosphere that is unmatched by other events in our great city.  One of the many great moments I took from Tap into the MOST was the sense of community.  Syracuse is a city with mostly locals and fewer transplants.  It was a pleasure to see so many people coming together to support local business and to support the MOST and to take pride in our town and in events like this.

The Museum of Science and Technology is a great place to bring kids, family or even a date. Located in the heart of gorgeous Armory Square, it is home to a domed IMAX theater, the Earth Science Discovery Cave, Technotown, Silverman Planetarium, and a playhouse that I would love to get lost in.  The MOST is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. until June 21st.  From June 21st - August 27th hours will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.  

Syracuse hosts some pretty killer events. Brew at the zoo, Italian Fest, and Taste of Syracuse to name a few. Tap into the MOST should be added to your list of events to attend.

-Anthony Christiano 

Who is Chef Matt Riddett

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Matt Riddett grew up to be the chef he is today thanks, in part, to watching his parents raise a variety of vegetables in their back yard garden. He didn’t realize it at the time, but the experience gave him an appreciation for growing food, harvesting it at the peak of quality and putting it to use in the kitchen. “I subconsciously learned about good food and eating fresh,” he says.

It made a lasting impression. Riddett, 37, is the executive chef for the brewpub at Empire Brewing Company in downtown Syracuse, a position he has held since 2010. The brewpub is essentially a big tavern, with an open kitchen, lively atmosphere and more than 150 seats. The scent of beer permeates the place — no surprise, given the tall copper and stainless steel brewing equipment that looms large over the bar and dining areas. This is where Empire brewed the majority of its beers before the Empire Farm Brewery, New York’s largest farm brewery, opened in Cazenovia last year.

What sets Empire apart from other restaurants with pub menus is its focus on local ingredients — and food designed to complement beer made with local ingredients. The menu features a half-dozen burgers, including several made with local grassfed beef, a local pork burger and a local elk burger. Empire’s local partners include Cafe Kubal (their locally roasted coffee even makes its way into some beers), Meadows Farm, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Gianelli Sausage, Beak and Skiff, Critz Farms, Queensboro Dairy, Life of Reilley Distilling and Wine Co., and others.

Greyrock Farm, of Cazenovia, will supply some of the produce used this season at the brewpub downtown (as well as the restaurant at the farm brewery) and a garden to be planted at the farm brewery will also supply both restaurants with a stream of salad greens, tomatoes, squashes and more come summertime. Right now, Riddett says, it’s a waiting game. He loves to visit the Central New York Regional Market most Saturdays to see what’s available and what’s new, locally, to supplement what he already has at hand.

Riddett got his start in the restaurant business after a brief stint studying engineering in college. He was working as a landscaper, and when fall came and that work dried up, he got a job in the kitchen at the Blarney Stone, on Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill. He liked the work and the pace of it and eventually enrolled at New England Culinary Institute, where he polished his skills in the school’s restaurant and bakery. He moved to California for a couple years, and worked as a chef at several restaurants in the Livermore Valley, a wine district about 40 miles east of San Francisco noted for both wine and gourmet cuisine utilizing local ingredients.

“It was a great experience,” Riddett recalls, “but all of my family is here.”

Riddett has worked at a host of restaurants in Central New York, including the Brewster Inn, Lemon Grass, Mirbeau Inn and Spa and the Sherwood Inn. It was “luck,” he says, that brought him to Empire Brewing Company. A friend and fellow chef interviewed for the head chef position, but ended up taking a job out of state. He suggested that Riddett apply for the job. “I just kind of fell into it,” Riddett says. “I was into the local thing and they were into the local thing. It became a perfect fit.”

Almost seven years after hiring him, Empire founder David Katleski remains impressed with his choice for brewpub chef. “When you talk to chefs and meet and interview them, you want to make sure their egos don’t get in way of business direction,” he says. “Matt shares our vision and goals for beer and food focusing on local ingredients. It has been a great partnership from the day he started.”

Riddett tweaks the menu at the Empire brewpub a couple times a year, but never so it strays noticeably from its eclectic mix of pub favorites, including soups and chilis, salads, sandwiches, burgers and Tex-Mex and New Orleans-flavored fare, like fajitas, quesadillas, burritos, gumbo and jambalaya. He’s always on the lookout for ways to work Empire’s beers into the food, from adding Empire ale to the batter used on the haddock for fish and chips, to braising short ribs in brown ale, to making cupcakes flavored with Local Grind, Empire’s collaboration brew with Cafe Kubal.

“Cooking with beer is trending everywhere in restaurants right now,” Riddett says.

In his leisure time, Riddett likes to give back to the community by participating in events like the Signature Chefs Auction, a fundraiser for the March of Dimes, and Philanthropic Foodies, a culinary showcase with several local beneficiaries.

And his own garden is calling. Riddett’s 40-by-20-foot happy place will give him and his family produce into late fall, including peas, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, fennel, okra, carrots, edamame, ground cherries, turnips, beets and more. First up are rhubarb and ramps.

-Margaret McCormick

The Empire Brewing Company brewpub is at 120 Walton St., in Armory Square. The brewpub is open daily for lunch and dinner (and Sunday brunch). For information, call 315-475-2337. The restaurant at the Empire Farm Brewery is open Thursday to Sunday and has its own menu. For information on both locations, visit

  audioBoom / Casino Podcast: Ep. II – Best Gambling Cities to Visit in 2017

Madison Bistro: A farm to table Restaurant

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During my time in Central New York, I have come to enjoy the surprises that this gorgeous country have to offer. Whether it was the scenery, the strange music venues, or mom and pop diners, I always seem to find the jewels in the rough. One that exceeded the standard was a little place I found in Wampsville, New York. Madison Bistro. Owned and operated by Victor Ramirez and Lisa Campanie, they are setting the standard in their area for how restaurants should be operating. The food, the atmosphere, you feel like Guy Fieri is going to show up at any minute.

Opening the doors in 2010 Madison Bistro holds the bragging rights to being farm to table before it was cool. I asked Victor about how this came about and he said: “we were operating with store bought beef for awhile and one day we ran out. We decided to contact a local supplier to buy a little ground beef to get us through a day or two until we could get the order in. That one juicy burger made with local beef was so delicious,” he said, “that is all it took to sell us on the idea that we needed to source everything locally.” Since then they have operated with a local first mindset. Victor and Lisa are as down to earth as you’ll find in the restaurant business. Stepping into Madison Bistro brings comfort and makes you feel like you already know Victor and Lisa even before you get the chance to meet them.

Growing up in San Antonio, Victor learned to cook from watching his grandmother cook traditional Tex-Mex dishes such as Menudo, Mole, Barbacoa and of course homemade flour tortillas. With over 30 years in food service, Victor prides himself in making everything from scratch; his bread, pastries, sauces, soups, and even smoked chew bones for your dogs. People swear by his sandwiches and house made potato chips but he is one of the very few restaurants in the area that does true Mexican food and Texas BBQ, in addition to other interesting cuisines. Victor loves letting his roots shine through in his dishes.

Madison Bistro touts the only Taco Tuesday in the area, Thirsty Thursday, where you get a Burger and Brew combo, and operates a super eclectic dinner menu Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Lisa, a homegrown local to Oneida, assists with day-to-day operations, cooking and keeps Victor grounded. He says he tries to use everything he can and be a no waste kitchen so as to bring the best food for the lowest price. Madison Bistro is doing so many things so well that it’s hard to fit it all into one article, but that is all the more reason for you to get out and go to Madison Bistro and see for yourself!

~ Author, Micah


Experience Redfield’s

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Redfield's is amazingWhat exactly should we expect from a blog or article written about a restaurant?  Are we wanting to see something negative about the service, the food, the prices, or the atmosphere?  Do we want to read the author’s opinion?  Does the opinion matter?  I have chosen to write about my experience with Redfield’s and my thoughts on the restaurant and I hope you will enjoy the blog, or at least stay with me until the end.

I had the pleasure of being treated to a conversation with the people in charge of the show at Redfield’s the day before Thanksgiving.  Not only was the conversation enjoyable, but the food as well.  I was treated to a sampling of various items from the menu: Pork belly, Autumn Salad, Shrimp & Grits, Braised Beef, and the best Creme Brûlée I’ve ever had.  In essence, the food appeared simple in design and taste.  However, I would say one of the most difficult challenges that surrounds any chef is the complexity of taking multiple flavors and making them fall into a simple and understandable line that causes the audience to remember the dish.  For instance,  when I have a bowl of phenomenal French Onion soup, I am transported back to my early twenties where I can see the Autumn colors and feel the cold wind blowing on my bones.  I immediately crave a Scotch and a Pipe.  There is just something about simple and delicious food that can transport us to places we have missed and long to be.

Redfield’s Shrimp & Grits brought me back to my time growing up in the South.  Words like “Y’all” suddenly appeared back into my vocabulary.  The Winter Cobb Salad with the Fried Egg brought me to a place of feeling distinguished; not because Fried Eggs are distinguished but because I had never thought to place a Fried Egg on top of a salad and to have it mix so well with the flavors and dressing.

Truthfully, what makes Redfield’s such a “must visit destination” in Syracuse, is the effort and focus within the walls.  Kyle, Louis, Chef Michael, and Sous Chef Jacob are not only focused on creating a reputable restaurant in Syracuse but are focused on transforming the area of the connective corridor and Syracuse into a culinary hot-spot.

I love talking all things food and beverage and industry in and around Syracuse and Central New York.  I love to see a restaurant do something unique, something worth something and not just for the sake of being unique, but for the benefit of progress, and for the benefit of growth.

If I had to hedge a bet on a group of people that could bring Syracuse into a new age of dining it would be the team at Redfield’s.  My only hesitation in placing said bet would be surrounding you and I.  Can we get behind something different?  Can we support something new?  What if they’re not located in Armory Square (no offense to the almighty Square) but why is that our community struggles to show support for the businesses located a few blocks away?  Granted, a portion of my life and time is focused on supporting locally owned restaurants, but I ask myself “who needs more of my money” when I dine out and then I go there.  As a matter of fact, I was headed to a well established and locally owned restaurant just the other night for a meeting and called to change venue to a restaurant that I knew needed more of my money.

Redfield’s is in no way considered the underdog, at least not in my mind.  However, they are vital to the progress of the food & beverage industry in Syracuse and I think that demands some of our money, some of our time, and some of our attention.

– Anthony

The Four Hamburgers We Are Eating Right Now

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The Hamburger.  What’s better than a good hamburger?  It’s a safe bet when you’re eating at a new restaurant.  Almost everyone makes a good hamburger, few make a bad hamburger, and even fewer make a GREAT burger.  A quality burger can be come in many different forms.  A mediocre burger can be made better with a great price while a good burger can be made terrible with a price that’s too high.

the-market-dinerThe following is a list of four hamburgers we are eating right now.  Well, not literally RIGHT NOW…but we had them over the last few days so we could write this blog.  The research was long and challenging but somebody had to do it.  This list will be updated in the future.  Why?  Because you can’t write one blog a year about all the different hamburgers in Central New York.

  1. The Market Diner – 2100 Park St. Syracuse.

We ordered a classic cheeseburger with french fries.    The burger is delicious and as classic as it gets.  The Market Diner has eight different types of burgers to choose from on the menu but in a classic diner we wanted a classic cheeseburger.  The french fries are crisp and fresh, they don’t let them sit around waiting for an order.  One of the best features of this cheeseburger is the toasted Di Lauro’s bun they use.  Not to mention a cheeseburger with french fries is only $6.49 which makes a good burger a great burger.


  1. johnny-angelsJohnny Angel’s – 22 Jordan St. Skaneateles.

It is difficult to be objective when reviewing a meal in Skaneateles.  In my opinion, everything in the town is better than anything anywhere else.  Driving to Skaneateles from Syracuse to grab a quick burger always seems worth the time considering I drive past 12 restaurants on the way that sell good hamburgers.  I had the Angel Burger which is a hamburger with crumbly bleu cheese, smokehouse bacon, and topped with onion straws which are more the size of onion petals.  The burger is $10.49 with fries and goes great with a 1911 Hard Cider.  The prices at Johnny Angel’s are very reasonable considering they could easily charge more if only because they are located in the village of Skaneateles.  Add in their toppings bar and the cleanliness of the restaurant and you have got the makings of a great burger joint.



  1. bull-and-bearBull and Bear Roadhouse- 6402 Collamer Road. East Syracuse. Bull and Bear Roadhouse has one of the best deals on burgers in town.  On Tuesday nights you can pick up a classic hamburger + fries and a house lager for just $10.  We went out for lunch and snagged the Vermonter which is a cheeseburger with extra sharp cheddar and thick sliced pepper bacon.  I added tots and a Syracuse Pale Ale to make it a great lunch.  The burger wasn’t expensive coming in at $11.  I enjoy hitting Bull and Bear up most times, I like going to restaurants when they’re not busy and with Bull and Bear being such a great spot, it’s difficult to find a time when they’re not very busy.  That sounds like a put down but if anything it’s a compliment for Bull and Bear.

Check them out for a solid hamburger, just make sure you have an extra napkin!



  1. prison-city-pubPrison City Pub & Brewery – 28 State St. Auburn.

Prison City is possibly best known for their quality brew’s and atmosphere.  I went to Prison City on a Sunday night with some friends for the purpose of trying the Pub Burger.  The Pub Burger is Local Grass-fed Beef, Porter caramelized onions, Cheddar, Pickle, and Pub sauce on a Brioche roll.  The Pub Burger + Fries rolls in at $12.  In the spirit of being transparent, Prison City Pub is a member of Eat Local CNY so we may be a little biased when it comes to the food.  The burger tastes so much better than it looks (sorry for the not-so-hipster pic), which again, sounds like a put down.  It may not look like a fancy burger piled high with crazy toppings, but the flavor is on point!  And adding ANY of their beers makes going to Prison City the best part of your day.  That is, unless you got married or won the lottery or something.


The Bistro at Villa Verona

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Bistro-at-Villa-VeronaIt would probably make me look better if I told you I was up to date on all the new restaurants in Central New York and, that I knew The Bistro at Villa Verona was opening and, I wanted to go meet Chef Micah McKamie because I had already heard so many wonderful things about him.  But the truth is, I was on Instagram one night seeing how many likes a recent post received, when I noticed Villa Verona had started following Eat Local CNY.  So I followed them back.  Then I saw some pictures of food that looked amazing.  So I sent them a DM and asked to meet up.  And we did.  And then I drove 45 minutes out to Villa Verona on a Thursday night for dinner because the food is THAT good!  And really, what more needs to be said about a new restaurant than the food is good.  However, when it comes to the feelings I had towards Villa Verona and my dinner that Thursday night, the words “good, great, fantastic, delicious”, or any others just do not seem to do my dinner justice.  I am sure there are better meals out in the world, there may even be better meals somewhere in CNY, but I have yet to try them.

The Restaurant itself is small but cozy and has a somewhat rustic look.  When you walk into the Bistro, you are greeted with a comfortable view of the waiting area that hosts a couch, chairs and a burning fire place.  This isn’t a very large floorplan and some of the tables seem a little too close together, but I can assure you, nothing will matter once you take that first bite.

I sat at the bar but did not drink. I didn’t want to drive back to Syracuse with a buzz (momma raised me better than that).

Oct-25-aKeep in mind, this is not a typical restaurant, at least not for Central New York.  It looks similar and feels similar and I am sure you could list one or two places that feel the same, but the food blows everything else out of the water.  Not to mention Chef Micah is the most humble person you’ll ever meet in your life.  I’ve met and spoken with a few “chefs” in and around the country and I have NEVER met someone with as much humility AND talent as this guy.  It could be his years of service to our country in the Military that has made him so humble, but whatever the reason, I don’t believe you will find anyone more deserving of praise.

I ordered the “Airline Chicken Breast” that is described as “Pan seared with ricotta gnocchi, roasted beets, spinach, mushrooms, in a Marsala pan sauce.”  The cost of the dish was $24 which I admit seemed a bit high. However, when the food came out and I took my first bite, the last thing I was thinking about was the price.  The only thing on my mind was if it would be socially acceptable for me to lick my plate clean.  I left a few bites of food on the plate so I would feel better about myself saying “Good job, Anthony, you didn’t eat the whole thing.” It’s the little victories in life…

I could go on and on about when the Bistro opened and who the owner is and their wines and all the other aspects that everyone else writes about.  But to me, the important aspect about this blog is, you must go to The Bistro at Villa Verona and have dinner.  I promise, unless you’re spending $100, you are not getting better quality food with more attention to the details of how they prepare and plate the food.  The food reminds you of something you saw on the Chef’s Table on Netflix. It’s that good.

Written by Anthony Tringale.  Eat Local CNY

<strong>The Market Diner – Where You Belong</strong>

The Market Diner – Where You Belong

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The history of The Market Diner goes all the way back to 1974.  To put this into perspective for you, in 1974 President Richard Nixon resigned the office of the President.  Philippe Petit set a world record by walking a tightrope strung between the World Trade Towers in New York City.  The first UPC code was scanned in America.  The Cleveland Indians hosted its first and last ten cent beer night at the ballpark.  And Hank Aaron broke the home run record set previously by Babe Ruth.  That’s when The Market Diner opened and planted roots in Syracuse, NY.

Syracuse and Central New York have a very defined history of local families who have opened restaurants in our local communities.  Few have stayed open and stood the test of time while many others have not experienced the same success.  The Market Diner is one of the few that have stood the test of time.

The Market Diner is a great place to go whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  With plenty of seating, The Market Diner gives you a feeling of being where you belong.  Tony, the owner and operator, is always around with a smile and warm greeting.  This place treats its customers like friends; come twice and you’re family.

Many of us are talking about moving towards supporting local in Syracuse and Central New York.  Most of us have some sort of understanding that it’s important to support local businesses but we don’t necessarily know where to begin.  Well, you can start by eating at The Market Diner.  Supporting The Market Diner is supporting our brothers and sisters in the community. It’s supporting our neighbors and it’s supporting the local economy and community.

Whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast or a great cheeseburger for lunch, get to The Market Diner today.  Support your community, spend your money wisely, and get a great meal

  • Anthony
    Eat Local CNY

Syracuse: A Comeback City

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For the first time in the history of the Syracuse University basketball program, both the men’s and women’s teams have reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.  For the firs time in the schools history, the Women’s team has reached the Final Four.  The Syracuse Men’s basketball team is one of only four in the history of the NCAA to reach the Final Four as a double digit seed.

The Men’s team have flown under the radar almost all year.  Approaching selection day there were many who thought Syracuse would not be considered as an option to enter this year’s NCAA tournament.  The day Syracuse was selected as a 10 seed the haters came crawling out of the woodwork bashing Syracuse and the selection committee’s decision to include SU.  Coming back from controversy, suspensions, and sanctions which resulted in a reduction of scholarships, and would have hobbled any program, Syracuse rose above the haters and has become one of the most electric teams to grace the game this year.

The success of Syracuse Basketball in the NCAA tournament is no coincidence and it is no strike of fate.  These victories, this success, is resonant of the people and the city of Syracuse itself.  Some took to Twitter to compare the Men’s comeback as being reflective of the day their introduction to the Final Four took place: Easter – A day that many celebrate as the day of resurrection; the day of death coming back to life.  From a more than significant deficit, the Men’s team, lead by Coach Boeheim, applied pressure and focused in on the prize, a trip to Houston and a chance at the title game.

The City of Syracuse is on the verge of a comeback.  Syracuse is experiencing deficit itself: A national story on the extreme poverty in Syracuse concentrated among Blacks and Hispanics.  An unemployment rate higher than the Nation’s.  A high crime rate.  And a City needing change and growth.  But Syracuse is on the brink of a comeback.

syracuse-mascott_smThe comeback story and success of the Syracuse Basketball program is what this city needs right now.  Syracuse needs to see a comeback from one of its own.  We need to see that Syracuse can fight. We can grow. We can change the game plan. We can ignite success and we can create a better tomorrow for the next generation.  Like Malachi Richardson in the Elite 8 game against Virginia, we may have had a rough first half, not playing to our potential, but the second half is here and we’re poised for our turnaround.

Syracuse is a City that can change and adapt.  We have new businesses opening everywhere.  There are entrepreneurs that are finding Syracuse and Central New York to be the most fertile ground to plant their roots.  Organizations like Believe in Syracuse are helping to change our neighborhoods and create a better future.  Our locally owned restaurant industry rivals most cities in the United States and the industry is continuing to grow.

The people of Syracuse and Central New York can rally around our City and Region just like we have rallied around our Syracuse Orange.  By spending our money at locally owned businesses we can improve Syracuse and strengthen our local economy.  Studies show with locally owned businesses, 32% of those dollars will stay in the local community versus 16% when spent with a national chain.  We can show our support for organizations like Believe in Syracuse, The Rescue Mission, SyracuseFirst, and McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center to make Syracuse great again.

While most of Syracuse and the Nation will set its focus on April 2nd and Houston, Texas as the Orange prepare for the next chapter in their NCAA tournament run, we can set our focus on the next chapter of our City.  We will set our coordinates for a better tomorrow and focus today on the steps we must take to prepare a better Syracuse and a better Central New York for our children.  Someone once said “A wise man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.”  I ask the people of Syracuse and Central New York, “What will the inheritance be for our children’s children?”  Hopefully a better City and a better Region.

  • Anthony,
    Eat Local CNY


You Are Family When You Walk In

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I was introduced to the restaurant/hospitality industry, really, from birth. My father was in the vending machine and pinball business and by the time I came along he had been in it for 14 years. Some of my earliest recollections are having a day off from school and “helping” with the family biz. That entailed riding from restaurant to restaurant all day with dad as he cashed up the location – counted the money in each machine, rolled the coins and figured out the split with the proprietor. Cool!! This also was part of my education in business and salesmanship: “Networking”. Definitely a term that was not used at that time in business. Dad called it keeping the customer happy and he would say, “Remember, one hand washes the other”! So that’s how the restaurant “bug” first bit me.

That’s why I have always had a respect and concern for the local operator, the independent Risk Taker. Now, some years later, I have invested most of my adult life in this industry directly or indirectly, but I have come back to my roots in CNY. Those memories of the 50’s, 60’s and even the 70’s restaurants keep coming back to me. These were the restaurateurs who laid the foundation for the independents of today. Back then, chains were hardly even heard of. They barely existed and where they did, it was in the major metro areas.

These local folks were innovators and probably never realized the impact they would have on the local cuisine and flavors. Unfortunately, many of those ideas and flavors have faded into obscurity. For sure many of the Old Guard knew what hospitality was. When you walked into their restaurant it was like you were family. Some of them set service standards that we only dream of attaining today. Now I am not saying you can’t find the same today on the local scene, but there certainly are fewer quality local choices or at least it seems so.

FritaadOne of my favorites was Poodle’s and Jim’s. They were originally on North Salina Street. They opened at 5am and closed at 3pm which was Jim’s shift. They opened again at 9 or 10pm (depending on who the Mainliner at Three Rivers Inn was that night) and closed at 4 or 5am. That was Poodle’s shift. There was a counter to sit at or booths against the opposite wall. When you sat at the counter you could watch the magic unfold right before your eyes.  Either one of those two could prepare every order called out to them and carry on a conversation with customers at the counter. You could get a real Fritatta (Fritaad). The current “Fretta” served around town isn’t quite the same. Or how about a pepper and egg sandwich on fresh Italian bread from Columbus Bakery? Or better yet…a meatball or sausage in a “heel”? The “heel” was the end of the point loaf with the soft white scooped out and then filled with whatever you ordered. This is where the “heel” sandwich was commercially born. It was to be copied countless times. All of the soups, sauces, gravies and meatballs were made fresh in the back kitchen, usually by Ralph Delpiore, who was Poodle’s brother and a brilliant food artisan. He was a true chef by any standard. By the way…Jim (Stagnita) and Poodles (Anthony) were brothers-in-law! The Delpiore family carried the food tradition on into the next generation. Ralph, Jr. was also a quality restaurateur. His last full sized endeavor was Jack’s Reef – another venue with a great history. But more on that later.


Kasino pelaamista

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