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!