9.12.2017

Endicott's Newest Italian Star is Framed in Precious Stone Arches

For ages, a little white building on Watson Boulevard in Endicott caught my eye. The owner took his time working on these incredible cobbled stone arches above each window and doorway, and for whatever reason, it captured my attention and my fancy.

That little white building is now Ristorante Dell’Arco, and it just might catch your fancy, too, even if you’re not a fan of architecture. This new Italian restaurant feels very authentic on the scale of Endicott Italian cuisine – I don’t know if it’s because the building feels like it could exist just off a palazzo in a small village, or because the food, despite being decidedly Italian American, is so good. But you should try it for yourself and see.

I’ve been to Ristorante Dell’Arco twice now, once for lunch and once for dinner. I can confidently tell you to try appetizers, and I’ve vetted two of them for you. The bastoncini di mozzarella is what I would dub mozzarella in carroza – that is, it’s basically a deep fried grilled cheese sandwich. I know! So you have two thin slices of white bread jammed with a lot of fresh mozzarella cheese, breaded and fried and served with marinara. It’s a little heavy, but it does not slouch on cheese flavor or the robust crunch you want from a fried appetizer.


The aracini, or fried rice balls, were my favorite of the two, though. This is uncommonly good risotto, first of all – absolutely crammed with high quality, aged parmigiana cheese. The rice isn’t overcooked, either, which often comes with aracini. But the kicker with these babies, served four for $8 in a shallow pool of bright, savory marinara, is the fry on them, which is crispy but also delicate. There is a breadcrumb coating here, but it isn’t so thick as to outshine the rice and the cheese, and that makes allllll the difference. These are outstanding, and would be terrific at Happy Hour, standing in Dell’Arco’s small bar, washed down with a beer.


The pesto here is delicious, and in high demand. In fact, all the tortellini were gone on the night we dined here, so Melinda had to have her pesto on penne. But the sauce was well done – savory and flavorful without being so rich as too overwhelm the palate after just a few bites. I found the pasta to be a bit overcooked, as I did with the next dish, but the flavor was good – basil, cheese, oilive oil and pine nuts all in harmony.


The carbonara was excellent, but on the salty side. If you’re someone sensitive to salt, this will not be the dish for you. But if you like strong flavors and can handle the salinity, this fettucine dish with pancetta, egg yolk, and pecorino Romano cheese is delightful. Again, the pasta was overcooked enough so that by the time I was halfway through eating it, I could no longer twirl on my fork, which is a small ding on its otherwise delicious record.


At lunchtime, you would be wise to order the Tuscan chicken sandwich. That sounds pretty plain, right? On the contrary, this sub (it is not a Panini, as the menu states – not sure what’s up with that) is full of flavor, from perfectly ripe, sweet tomatoes, to expertly fried chicken cutlets, fresh mozzarella, to just a hint of that bright, well-seasoned tomato sauce. This sandwich is plenty big for $9, and is so much more than just chicken on bread.


The Stromboli was, likewise, a gut-busting portion for lunch. It was packed with lots of ham, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. I did feel like the pepperoni could have been higher quality and therefore spicier, given the robust nature of most of the ingredients at Dell’Arco, but I added peppers to my boli, and they were grilled before going into the dough, which added a lot of flavor to the end product. Another cup of that delicious red sauce was served alongside, and it was more than enough for a hearty lunch at $12.


Ristorante Dell’Arco is still new, as is its staff, so we found that while the service was friendly and punctual both visits, there are still some kinks to be worked out insofar as the servers’ familiarity with the menu and ability to split checks as asked. But by no means did either of those blips ruin our rosy impression of this brand new star on the Italian dining scene. We skipped dessert, as they aren't made in house, but they're pretty standard: cannoli, tiramisu, chocolate cake.


I give Ristorante Dell’Arco an eight on the BHS scale, and I can’t wait to stop in again to try the linguine con gamberetto di scampi and the pork chop with spicy peppers! If you’ve been to Dell’Arco, sound off with your recommendations in the comments! My hunger is big; my personality is bigger! 

9.05.2017

Be Basic as You Like on Route 96

The I’ve been wanting to tell you about this place for a whole year, but I didn’t have the photos to back up my story. I know how y’all like pretty pictures. I also know it’s the end of summer and ice cream is likely a bit lower on your priority list than if, say, this post had gone up two months ago, but let me tell you one thing: homemade pumpkin soft serve. Yeah. So do not ignore this post, is what I’m saying.


Route 96 Owego Soft Serve is basically the ice cream stand of your dreams, and will delight the child in you even if you have no children. First of all, how cute is this place?


In addition to delicious, house made pumpkin and cheesecake soft serve ice creams, they carry the full line of Perry’s hard ice creams, and hand-dipped cones. 


And you can eat them in front of a miniature Texaco station


OR a tiny lighthouse


OR this completely normal house boat thoughtfully docked on the lawn for your ice cream eating pleasure.


I told you this place was a kick! There is a tiny clown car to pose in:


As one does! Seriously, how cute does Melinda look in this itty bitty car thingy?

And even one of these (for you kids, this is a phone booth; it’s what people made calls from when they were out and about before cell phones existed)


This place is not only a playground for your inner child, it also serves slamming ice cream, and even though summer is nearly over, pumpkin season is just beginning, so scoot on over to Owego and get your chocolate dipped, sprinkled cone of sweet and savory spiced deliciousness today!


8.29.2017

The Babbo Revolution

When I think about Boston, food is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, even though they call it Beantown, and Parker House rolls and Boston cream pie and clam chowder are all on my radar screen and are undeniably delicious.

I think of Boston as a history town. The city where the American Revolution, and therefore America, really, was brewed into being. It is the birthplace of Franklin, a place so ripe with the ideals of freedom, it’s hard to see it for everything else it’s become in the last 200+ years.


But all that may be changing, because I just ate my best meal of the year in Boston, and a New Yorker was responsible. Until the very day I ate there, I had no idea Mario Batali has established an outpost of his famed Babbo Enoteca in Beantown. Babbo Pizzeria is in the Financial District of Boston, right downtown on Fan Pier. It’s not North End Italian, it’s not Union Oyster House (or Neptune Oyster, for you hipsters), and it’s not the Parker House Hotel, but you should make room for it on your Boston itinerary, because it is magnificent.


Because our party of three (which grew to five once word spread) didn’t have a reservation, we were seated at the antipasti bar, and I didn’t mind one bit. In fact, being seated right in front of an enormous leg of prosciutto periodically being sliced for peoples’ appetizer plates suited me juuuuuust fine, thank you very much. This joint is huge, and can cater to large parties, but the intimacy of the marble-topped bar suited us very nicely.

Let’s start with the most delicious appetizer just about ever – a play on a spicy tuna roll, Italian style. The tuna crostini was tiny, brunoised cubes of fresh tuna tossed in a very light but sharp mayonnaise spiced with Calabrian chili, plus roasted peppers. There was heat, but also roundness, with just enough acid, and the crunchy, airy bread and gorgeously green, peppery olive oil drizzled over the top made this stunning dish sing. We each should have ordered our own, really. This dish blew my taste buds out of the back of my head and they did a quick lap around the block before coming back to me.


A perfect plate of sliced prosciutto provided the salt and fat any good starter course requires. This was some of the most meltingly tender prosciutto I’ve ever had, its flavor more refined than supermarket varieties – less salty, and more luxurious in its fat content.


Sweet corn and fregola was a small dish of a cold corn salad made with a small, spherical Sardinian pasta that’s toasted before it’s cooked, for a, well, toasty quality that paired really beautifully with the sweetness of the summer corn and the sharpness of scallions. More excellent olive oil anchored the salad in fruity earthiness.


My cocktails, which were so boozy that I needed only two (but still drank three), were called Sardinian iced tea. You know how Long Island iced teas have no actual tea in them and are renowned for being 100% alcohol? Well, this combo of Prosecco, lime, and Amaro packed much of the same punch in an alluring, not sweet but incredibly complex glass. They were delicious.


All three of our original party chose pastas for our mains, though pizza is the specialty here. I had this harebrained idea, once two more colleagues joined our group, that Carrie and I might split a pizza, but that was sheer madness. We never could have enjoyed dessert had we done it.

Spaghetti Carbonara from Babbo is a dish I have literally dreamed of for years. Over a decade ago, a writer for Gourmet Magazine (RIP, sweet friend) wrote a piece about his daughter’s love for this dish, and I saved it, in my family recipe binder, and have obsessed about eating it ever since. This night, my dream came true. At Babbo, carbonara does NOT mean alfredo sauce with bacon it in. It’s the real Roman deal here, pancetta with black pepper, pecorino Romano cheese and egg, with the small addition of scallion, which keeps this rich dish from being overly heavy. At home, I substitute green peas for the scallion, but this wasn’t a huge departure from what I do. The pasta was markedly al dente, with good chew, and the luxe richness of the egg yolk coated the small bits of cured pig with a decadent mouth feel and perfect savory bite. It’s a slam-dunk of a dish, and the best carbonara I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Also: NO CREAM. Thank God.


As much as I loved my pasta, I think Carrie’s beat it. I hope that isn’t a blasphemous statement, given how long I’ve been wanting that plate of carbonara, but the bucatini all’Amatriciana was a complete work of art. Guanciale, which is cured pork cheek, is a more robust flavor than pancetta, and pared ith red onion, tomato, and piquant pecorino romano cheese, this was a powerfully flavorful dish of harmony. Holy God, get to Boston NOW and get this in your life.


Not to be outdone, though, Carol’s rigatoni alla norma was no slouch. A loose tomato sauce with punchy basil, sweet roasted eggplant, the slight heat of those Calabrian chiles, and freshly made, pillowy and milky ricotta cheese coated the al dente rigatoni in lavish sweetness and savory depth. This was another masterpiece, frankly. Asked to choose between the three, I’m not positive I could.


Babbo wasn’t finished impressing us, though, because dessert was coming. While Carol’s blueberry crostada was pretty de riguer, with vanilla gelato and crunchy granola topping, Carrie’s affogato sung with deep, rich espresso and strong notes of vanilla to counter the coffee.

But my sweet corn coppetta was the winner of this round. Listen, making ice cream out of corn when it is at the peak of its summer sweetness is just good business. This had the flavor of perfect kettle corn, but cold and creamy, and was accented with tart blackberries and the crumbling, dry corn flavor of polenta cake to compliment the texture. None of us could stop dipping our spoons into this cup of summer flavor – it was extraordinary.


Once our additional colleagues Nikki and Ali joined us, they copied our orders, so I never got to try the octopus in limoncello vinaigrette or fried squash blossoms, or pizza topped with sausage and escarole. But I’ll be back to this spectacular eatery, which I unreservedly give a 10 out of 10 on the BHS scale, because while it may not be quintessentially Bostonian, Babbo IS the restaurant of my personal revolution. My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!

Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

8.23.2017

The Syracuse Café Tailor-made for Instagram

We’re all stuck in this weird era of social media having become so integral to the success of restaurants that sometimes, the aesthetics become more important than the flavors. I never thought it would come to this, but here we are.

When Original Grain, a downtown Syracuse eatery that touts its Cali vibes and New York flavors, first began following me on Instagram a few months before its opening in 2016, I was impressed by the team’s new America approach to cuisine. The menu is set up like many of us want to eat in this post-three-squares world. They have bowls, both savory and sweet, some sushi-adjacent nori wraps, and sandwiches that aren’t your boring old burgers, smoothies, and “toasts.” Sounds like the stuff I’ve been agitating for more of for years, right? I mean, avocado toast isn’t necessarily my jam, but it IS pretty.


Once the restaurant opened, and I continued to follow its journey via online buzz, and continued to be intrigued. The interior of the place is light-filled and very, very hip. Even though this is a fast-casual set-up, they’re selling local coffees and hawking the kind of nearly-good for you food that is right up millennial alley. I just had to give it a try.


That chance came a couple weeks ago, when I met my friend Kristina there for lunch on the way up North for the weekend. I was just as captivated by the space in person as I had been via my Instagram app – it’s airy and bright. And I was enthusiastic about the sandwich I ordered: The Ruckus, with short rib, pickled red onion, jalapeno, avocado, and “rad sauce,” on brioche.


My fervor was quelled a bit upon its eating, however. While the beef on the sandwich was tender, it was not flavorful nor particularly juicy. I’m not sure how they’re holding the meat after braising, but it’s certainly not in its own juices and seasonings. The piquant red onion and fresh, thinly sliced jalapeno were a big thumbs up, and I’m a sucker for creamy avocado, but there was no sauce, rad or otherwise on my sandwich, and if that was brioche, I’m a nun. The roll was white, dry and flavorless. I’ll admit, I don’t know what rad sauce is, but maybe it would have saved this sandwich, because what was needed was some salt, pepper, and moisture.

The latte I ordered with it had to be chased to the other end of the store to obtain, but it was strong, smooth, and delicious. I believe the coffee comes from a roaster in Ithaca, which is true to OG’s commitment to everything hipster, and in this case, I approve.

Kristina’s Egg Man toast was prettier, and since it was draped in tons of prosciutto and a five minute egg, delivered much more flavor. It also received its required drizzle of ponzu dressing, for acid and punch, so it won the day. And damn, is it photogenic.


I wish I could have tried more here – the poke bowl was calling my name, and I should have listened – but two women can only eat so much. I’m going to reserve a BHS score for when I’ve sampled more of this menu, if indeed I have the impetus to visit again, but honestly, and despite the lunchtime hoards that descended on Original Grain, I’m not sure it’s for me. While I’m not ready to declare that this café puts style over substance, my lunch did seem to suggest that, and while you guys know I love a pretty Instagram post, it’s not worth sacrificing a delicious meal. I hope most of the food at OG is better than my Ruckus, because I wanted to like it here, but I didn't get the proof of that during my visit. My hunger is big; my personality is bigger! 



Original Grain Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

8.01.2017

Bashing Out Some Killer 'Cue

It was an honor to be invited to judge the 2017 Binghamton BBQ Bash, a fundraiser for the Family Enrichment Network, at Traditions at the Glen this past weekend. The event was overseen by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, an organization that runs the majority of the most prestigious BBQ competitions in the country. Because the KCBS was running the judging, they gave the local judges on the panel a tutorial on how to judge an official BBQ contest, and boy, do I know my smoked meats now!


The competitors were Big Dipper, Saucy Hog BBQ, The Belmar Pub, Ozzie’s Brisket BBQ, Binghamton Hots, Muffer’s Kitchen, Marilu’s Catering, and Smokey Legend Gourmet BBQ.


Our judging was double blind, meaning the entries were received, renamed, and then renamed again so that we didn’t know where the food in front of us came from and could be completely unbiased in our assessment of appearance, taste, and texture.


There were quite a few rules insofar as the mechanics of judging went, beginning with the mandate that we not wear sunglasses, with a hilarious BBQ oath in the middle, and a directive on how to arrange our water bottles before we were done. But learning the ropes from the pros was really fun. We judged in two categories: meats and sides. Smokey Legend Gourmet BBQ took home the judges’ prize for Grand Champ BBQ, while Marilu’s Catering won Best Side Dish for its hot potato salad. I also really like Muffer’s Kitchen’s corn bread, with its little chunks of fresh corn, but I know some of the judges felt like it was too cake-y, without enough cornmeal in the mix to count as corn bread.



Smokey Legend’s brisket was almost overwhelmingly seasoned with black pepper and cumin when I tasted what they were serving to the event attendees after our judging was over, but if its offering was one of the two I liked best when judging; it was moist, tender but not mushy, and really beefy.  The baked beans from Smokey Legend were not my cup of tea however – too much ketchup flavor in there made them too tangy without enough depth for me.


The Family Enrichment Network provides supportive services for the optimal development of children and families, running head start programs, community clinics, special education services and even food programs. What a wonderful organization to support on a sunny, not-too-hot Saturday, and I’m so grateful to have met all the certified KCBS judges from around New York State – we had lots of good foodie conversation in our tent before the judging got underway. Congrats to all the winners! What your favorite local BBQ?



7.20.2017

Is Henderson Harbor the New Culinary Hotspot on Lake Ontario?

I’ve brought you tales of delicious dinners at Ryan’s Lookout, comfort food at Cooper’s Landing, and daybreak delights at the Cherry Tree Inn. Well, there’s a new kid in town, and he’s got a view.


The Waterside Bar and Grill is Billy Caprara’s latest business venture, but there are no cars to be found here. This restaurant, with dockside service, fire pits, and outdoor seating, has brought a ringer into its kitchen – Chef Kevin Gentile, from Syracuse. You may remember my review of Gentile’s several years ago. I was impressed then, and our recent, lovely dinner at Waterside only underscored that impression.

First of all, the venue is pretty luxe – Billy has built a gorgeous dining room with a fireplace tucked in one corner, and a wall of windows to see Lake Ontario. There’s plenty of outdoor seating for nice days, and the three fire pits out front, which the busboys were struggling to light on the windy night we visited, reminded me of chic restaurants in California and Florida. I’ve also heard that Billy quite often will order appetizers on the house for folks seated at the bar, and in fact, he was present during our dinner, and stopped by to greet us. A present owner is a good owner, in my book.

But let’s get to the food, shall we? We began with a sexy little threesome…of shrimp. Get your minds out of the gutter, folks! The shrimp 3 way was the perfect combo of two big coconut fried shrimp, two bacon wrapped beauties, and two cold, steamed shellfish served with fresh-tasting, punchy cocktail sauce. I also loved the sauce served with the fried ones – a horseradish mayonnaise that was light but sharp. The shrimp were good-sized and not a single one was over-cooked. We loved every bite, but I think the bacon-wrapped version dunked in the horseradish mayo was my personal jam.


A round of salads preceded the entrees, and while I didn’t snap a pic, rest assured, they were fresh and decked out with lots of toppings – no wilted iceberg nonsense. I did grab a shot of the Caesar salad with shrimp ordered by one of our diners. I grabbed a bite, too, and it was delicious – the dressing creamy without too much saltiness, but still homemade and flavorful. I loved the big curls of parmesan cheese on top and the hefty, robustly crunchy homemade croutons sprinkled throughout. Beware, though, those of you skittish about anchovies – the little fishies come along for the ride on this one.


The chicken riggies is one of Chef Gentile’s specialties, but my dining companion was caught unawares of just how spicy this pasta dish can be. The dish of rigatoni, chicken, hot cherry peppers and bell peppers in a light tomato sauce that hails from Utica can range from tangy to five-alarm spicy. I’d put this version at about three-alarm, but when your first bite contains one of those cherry pepper slices, LOOK OUT. That said, the chicken in this dish was juicy and tender, and there was lots of it, plus sweet bell peppers to take the edge off the sauce, which was close to a Buffalo wing flavor, but less vinegary.


There’s a very mysterious menu item called Quiz Chef Gentile Risotto. You KNOW I always have to order whatever the craziest thing is, right? So, our delightful, attentive waitress Lindsey asked if I was allergic to anything or didn’t like anything. I asked for shrimp and no asparagus, and beyond that, let Chef go nuts.

He did just that, sending out two pear-shaped arancini of crab risotto set in a port wine sauce with grilled shrimp, fresh, quartered figs, and some gorgonzola cheese. Pears are typically poached in port wine and served for dessert in French preparations, so I loved this hint of whimsy. I also happen to love fried risotto balls, so the aracini were a great move. That said, the figs in the port wine sauce were a little sweet-on-sweet, for me, and all that flavor completely overpowered the delicate crab and shrimp. I could have done with just the sauce or just the fruit, but not both. But this was a very ambitious dish, and I absolutely award points for effort – I enjoyed it even with the cacophony of flavors.


After all this good food, dessert was an obligation, not an option. I ordered the raspberry cannoli cake. Have I ever covered the extent to which I adore cannoli cake? The combo of sweet cake and slightly savory mascarpone filling is just about dessert perfection, in my book. This one had tart raspberries in the mix, plus tiny chocolate chips and whipped cream frosting to lighten up the overall flavor. It was simply delicious.


The lemonade cake was decidedly sweeter, but no slouch itself. It was terrifically lemony and very moist (yeah yeah I know you hate that word). We loved it.


Every table dining at Waterside the night we visited was basically treated like royalty. For a fairly casual restaurant, the service here is friendly and very conscientious. Beyond the great food, you have a lovely view of the lake and a gorgeous dock to either park your boat or pose for pictures on after dinner – this is summer dining in Northern New York at its finest. I give Waterside Bar & Grill a nine on the BHS scale, and I can’t wait to return to try the lobster roll and the bahn mi sandwich! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger! 


7.17.2017

Travel Guide: Denver

My opportunities for travel are most often business-related, meaning I fly into a place, take a cab to my hotel, spend the majority of my days in a conference room or convention center, then limp exhaustedly out to dinner, alone or in a large group, at the best place I can find without too much hassle.


I get to eat at really great places in this vein – don’t get me wrong – but it’s not the most relaxed way to experience a city. But recently, I went to visit Big Hungry Jill for a long weekend in her newest city, Denver. I’ve somehow never been to Colorado, and getting to see it as a tourist and in the company of a resident rather than as a business traveler was an absolute treat. Here’s where you need to eat when you go there.

Denver Biscuit Company is run and patronized by very, very cool people. They are cooler than me, and it’s probable they will be cooler than you. Ignore the intimidation factor, and order yourself a giant, bacon-topped cinnamon roll made from biscuit dough along with the spicy bloody mary. Carbs and vodka can make me feel better about almost anything, including what a dork I am.

This roll was luscious with sugary icing, just a wee bit smoky from the bacon shards decorating the top, and ooey gooey on the inside while also somehow being flaky. The biscuit dough make it less yeasty than your typical cinnamon roll, but it was still tender and buttery on the inside.


You could opt next (oh yeah, you’ll already be full. Order more food anyway – you’re on vacation!) for the biscuits and gravy or the shrimp and grits, depending on your gluttony inclinations. Both were delicious, but I’m going to give the slight edge to the biscuits and gravy because the savory, creamy gravy was well-seasoned and not too rich, but still in great supply. We found the shrimp factor and the sauce factor to be a bit lacking in the shrimp and grits.


Next up, Uno Mas Taqueria on South Pearl not only has a great back patio for Happy Hour, but free chips and salsa to go with your skinny margarita. The green one is fiery, and the red ones are excellent.


Moving right on down the street, we had our best meal of the trip at Ototo Raw Bar and Robata Grill. We enjoyed the Happy Hour menu here, as well, and really made the best of our limited time at this gorgeous respite. The very best dish was called Kinpira, lightly sautéed julienned burdock root and carrot dressed in sesame oil and soy sauce. This was simple, but absolutely wonderful – the root vegetable providing earthy texture and flavor that was kissed beautifully by the sesame oil and sweetened by the carrot.


The honey miso eggplant was clearly crafted by angels. The mixture of the earthy, salty, fermented miso flavor with the sweet honey and the slightly bitter, soft eggplant was genius.


The grilled squid was no slouch, and I dish I liked better than I expected to. I like grilled octopus and I like fried squid preparations, but I don’t wholly love either. This managed to become smoky on the grill, and was cooked perfectly so that it was tender but with just a slight crunch. The seaweed and sesame sprinkled on top and the soy and sake liquid underneath complimented the creamy flavor of the fish really well.


The grilled pork belly didn’t disappoint, either. The star of this dish was the yuzu-kosho sauce served with the lightly grilled, fatty pork. It was brightly citrusy with the punch of fermented chiles that elevated this from a bacon dish to an exotic wonder from another land. The sauce cut right through the richness of the meat and anything than can out sing pork belly is a star in my book.


After all that Happy Hour-ing, you’re going to want dim sum the next morning. We sure did. We had a procession of awesome Chinese specialties here, and I can’t possibly describe them all, except one: rolled-up rice noodles stir fried with jalapenos, soy, and garlic that knocked my socks off. I have no idea what they are called, since we picked them off a steam cart, but you have to get them in your life. And I need to learn to make them at home, because you all know Upstate NY is a dim sum wasteland.


Star Kitchen is very authentic and absolutely worth the drive out of the more touristy areas to seek it out.


A you need to know about if you’re heading to Denver is Avanti, which is unlike any other eatery I’ve ever visited. This place is essentially a co-op of different restaurants, and it is BRILLIANT. The base building has a couple bars on different levels, plus indoor and outdoor seating options (and lots of them), with vendors occupying stalls selling schawarma, burgers, sushi, pizza, pasta, and arepas.
I had to go for the arepas, and my pabellon from Quiero Arepas was massive and delectable. The mix of savory black beans, sweet plantains, rich braised beef and salty cheese was in perfect balance. I was sad not to be able to sample the pork and guacamole version, but honestly, this thing was big enough for three people. There was no way.


Avanti is also exceedingly cool in that very Denver/rich hipster way, but a little bit lower on the intimidation scale. Everyone is just doing their own thing here, and to grab a bite to eat and a drink and cop a squat outside on the deck on a nice day is pretty much Heaven. The variety keeps it interesting, too. I think this concept could be a great idea for Armory Square in Syracuse or anywhere where people want to pre-game – it provides lots of options for large groups so everyone can find something they like, and then sit all together and talk and enjoy.


One more brunch for my Hungries, because I know you love it. Maddie’s, in the Rosedale neighborhood, has a cool mix of Jewish deli foods with Mexican specialties and southern-tinged dishes. We started with a flight of pancakes. Hey! I don’t want you to read right over that – you can order a FLIGHT OF PANCAKES for the table at Maddies, like, to start your breakfast. Yeah, I know. I know! Life is amazing.


We got a trio of tiny blueberry, banana walnut, and cinnamon sugar pancakes to share between the three of us, and were pretty proud of our accomplishment. These were sweet and tender. Not as fluffy as I may would have liked, but absolutely delicious nonetheless.


For my main, I ordered Maddie’s BYOBOWL of green chile, bacon, home fries, sautéed peppers and onions, cheddar cheese and two SSU eggs with a side of challah toast. It’s going to be tough to describe how much I loved it. Should I write a sonnet? Because green chile is my jam, you guys. It’s spicy, but not too; it’s savory, but not salty. The bacon leant the salt, and the eggs and cheese brought the richness, while the vegetables rounded everything else and prevented total gut-bomb status. I want to start making myself this dish on the weekends because I am in love with it.


You can also get an Israeli breakfast with hummus, eggs, and salad at Maddie’s, and if that doesn’t sound scrumptious, I don’t know what does. Do you think they would build a second location in Endicott?


All in all, my visit to Denver was a gastronomic feat. Jill and I gallivanted around Red Rocks and green parks, we shopped and watched too many episodes of Drunk History and renewed our evergreen friendship in all the most important ways – and many of those ways are laughing over really great food. What a gorgeous city and a terrific trip! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!