Chris Clemens

Creator + Owner + Author = Chief Exploring Officer. Chris has been traveling back and forth across New York for years studying and discovering the tucked away gems of the state and chronicling the journey

57 Comments

  1. Arian
    January 12, 2016 @ 9:23 am

    Thank you so much for the kind words about Utica! I agree it’s a pretty awesome place. I am from Rochester a launched a blog there exactly a year ago (Utica: A Day of Fun, a Story of Hope) and I have fallen in love ever since 🙂

    Reply

    • Matthew Paulini
      January 12, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

      I loved your article and its follow-up. I still go back and read them now and then, again. I know you love the adventure of exploring but next time you come to town I’d love to show you around town a bit.

      Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 9:44 pm

      Thanks for reading Arian. We had a great time getting to know Utica a little bit through the food. I can definitely see how it attracted you to stick around!

      Reply

  2. Dee
    January 12, 2016 @ 10:33 am

    I see you had the lemon pustie from Café Caruso, very good choice. Next trip you need to go to Holland Farms Bakery for your cookies though. The best in the area in my estimation. I’m glad you had a good time in Utica.

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 9:57 pm

      Does Holland Farms Bakery do other kinds of baked goods we should be looking for as well?

      Reply

      • Mike Kupiec
        January 13, 2016 @ 1:10 am

        Yes, you must try a taillight and jelly bun from Holland Farms! And don’t forget the chocolate milk!

        Reply

    • HKath
      January 13, 2016 @ 5:50 pm

      Definitely Holland Farms for their half moons. Also try Roma’s tomato pie and for a real “taste of Utica” go to Pelletri Joes for the mushroom stew

      Reply

  3. Jodie
    January 12, 2016 @ 10:56 am

    Old School Italian food in UTICA = Ventuas, and for pastries.. Star Bakery!

    Reply

    • Kathy Martelli
      January 12, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

      YES!!! Star Bakery near where I grew up on Jefferson Ave…and Ventura’s – GREAT food…

      Reply

  4. Adam
    January 12, 2016 @ 11:34 am

    You missed out with Bella Regina. For greens and riggies you need to make it to Georgio’s . Great choices all around though.

    Reply

    • Stephanie W
      January 12, 2016 @ 12:43 pm

      100% agree… Riggies are supposed to have a little kick and not be drowning in sauce. The greens from Charlie’s Pizza are also PHENOMINAL. Greens are starting to broaden out… i was at a “Utica Greens” festival in Syracuse a couple of years back. I think you could do a whole blog on just Utica Greens.

      Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 9:54 pm

      It was definitely a saucy affair at Bella Regina but with the hot cherry peppers it did have a light kick to it to cut through the creamy base. We’ll add Georgio’s to the list for the next trip we make out there!

      Reply

      • Stacey Guido
        January 13, 2016 @ 7:22 am

        I would not bother with Georgios if I were you. While I have had some decent food there in the past, my last visit resulted in such unfriendly and unprofessional service that my family, friends, and I will never return. When the owner threatens to call the cops on a custimer and kick them out of the restaurant just because they calmly mention that they have been waiting a long time for a table and they are wondering when a table will be ready, you deserve to loose business. I have since heard of other customers being treated the same way by the owner. There are plenty of other Italian restaurants in town that serve better food, are appreciative of their customers, and deserving of your business. I would check out Ancora by the Stanley theater. Wonderful food and service!

        Reply

  5. joanne george
    January 12, 2016 @ 11:46 am

    all the new referrals are great places too.. Christine’s Cookie Shoppe/Sugarbabe’s Gourmet Cupcakes in New Hartford behind Randall’s Pharmacy is superb too.. you will glad you stopped by

    Reply

  6. Tina
    January 12, 2016 @ 11:53 am

    Thank you for visiting Utica and exploring our wonderful foods. We are the little city that could and are making a slow comeback. Hope you visit again!

    Reply

  7. Krista
    January 12, 2016 @ 12:38 pm

    You should try delmonicos excellent food!!!

    Reply

  8. David Mancuso
    January 12, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

    I congratulate you for your blog and doing Utica . It is too bad that you missed some of the diamond restaurants there and in the area. I would tell you to go back again and try placed that are famous for specific dishes as well as American fare. Riggies and greens morelle are probably best at chesterfield, other Italian dishes at Grimaldi s and some in Clinton Frankfort Rome. All adjacent or in utica

    Reply

    • Marcie Dyar
      January 12, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

      So sorry, Grimaldi’s is now closed 🙁

      Reply

  9. gini dalessandro
    January 12, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

    It was great watching and reading about my beautiful home town, however, everything was right on for the exception of the cookies……..Holland Farms or Hemstroughts have the best “black and white” or better known as “halfmoon” cookies. Utica has everything and more!

    Reply

  10. Marcie Dyar
    January 12, 2016 @ 1:42 pm

    Hello, I work for Oneida County Tourism. Thank you for visiting our great city, we’re very proud of our diverse culinary scene! We’d be happy to have you again and help you out to find some even better hidden gems!

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 10:15 pm

      That is a very generous offer Marcie. We might need some help finding some of the more off the beaten path places next time. Thanks!

      Reply

  11. Jennifer
    January 12, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

    Thank you for the blog!! I prefer my Riggies at Chesterfields, Tomato Pie at Roma’s Sausage and Deli, Pusties & Canolies from Cafe Florentine and if you’re ever in the area again… You should try the shepards pie from Celtic Harp. I try it every where I go and they are on the top of my list! Looking forward to future blogs.

    Reply

  12. Wendy
    January 12, 2016 @ 5:27 pm

    Chesterfields for Greens (Where they were born) and Riggies. The BEST in Utica.

    Reply

  13. Matthew Paulini
    January 12, 2016 @ 5:55 pm

    Great article! Come back some time soon. I’ll give you the Utica Insider’s Tour. Proud Utican, Local Volunteer, and Utica’s only Urbanspoon (now Zomato) Prime Member. I love showing people the beauty behind the rust.

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 10:13 pm

      Thanks for the offer Matt. It seems like there is so much more for us to check out there. Just scratching the surface!

      Reply

  14. Michele
    January 12, 2016 @ 8:28 pm

    Awesome story and glad you guys enjoyed your trip and your eats. Next trip, you definitely need to try the tomato pie from Napoli’s Bakery…..best of the best. And like another reader said, you definitely lucked out with the riggies, there are better. Holland Farms for halfmoons definitely and go back to Caruso’s for the lobster tails…..DELICIOUS. Greens from Charlies is a good suggestion too.

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 10:08 pm

      I’d make a trip and only eat tomato pie all over Utica! I love pizza and this is such a simple and beautiful form of it. We tried going to Napoli’s but couldn’t make it work. Maybe next time!

      Reply

  15. gina
    January 12, 2016 @ 8:35 pm

    You would have to stay a week to try all the great food in Utica! Love hearing what other Uticians recommend.

    Reply

  16. Judy Oshansky
    January 12, 2016 @ 8:41 pm

    Just went back to Utica for a reunion in August. Tailor and the Cook blew me away! Unbelievably fabulous. And we happened upon Hummus and Tabouli on Bleeker Street. Try the felafel! You won’t be disappointed! Best I’ve ever had!

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 10:02 pm

      Looks like you’ve got my kind of taste Judy! We were sticking toward more classic places this trip, but maybe next time we can punctuate with some finer dining. I’ve only heard good things about Tailor and the Cook.

      Reply

  17. Teri
    January 12, 2016 @ 9:00 pm

    This article made me want to go home for a visit just to stuff my face! So many great places and amazing dishes. My recommendation isn’t Italian, but you MUST eat at Voss’! The best hot dogs I have ever tasted. It is a required stop at least twice when I go back to visit family.

    Can someone please come down to NC and start a Utica Food Truck?!

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 9:59 pm

      Thanks for reading Teri! What kind of dogs do they serve there?

      Reply

  18. jennifersekella
    January 12, 2016 @ 9:34 pm

    So glad you hit Utica! I lived in Utica and Rome for 9 years and the food is amazing!!! You only missed the amazing Greek food at Symeon’s. Time to visit friends, I’m thinking!!! Yummmmmm!

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 12, 2016 @ 9:58 pm

      Greek food, eh? That’s something I wish we had better versions of in the ROC. Is there a specialty of the house?

      Reply

      • jennifersekella
        January 12, 2016 @ 10:06 pm

        Oh geez, I’m not sure. Let me check with a gf who waitresses there. I always got tzatziki dip and puffy pita bread to start, then a souvlaki platter (lamb with a Greek salad), and once I actually had enough room left for their amazing baklava.

        http://www.symeons.com/

        Reply

  19. Amanda Daniels
    January 12, 2016 @ 10:18 pm

    What’s absolutely hilarious to me is that people in utica need to comment on who’s food is the best and you missed out blah blah blah.. Stop knocking this city! every single restaurant, bakery is the best..
    Every restaurant does things their own way and it’s based upon your own opinion not one place is un-edible they are all amazing.
    I was raised in a family owned Italian deli and my family doesn’t shy away from any of the other many great restaurants here you could catch me on any Sunday at any of these places and especially ones that weren’t mentioned buying the same product my family offers! Why? Because it depends on your mood and what you feel like that day! No place sucks, and no place is better than one another.. Maybe when the ppl in this city realizes that it will be the way it should be.
    #uticaproud

    Reply

  20. Tina
    January 12, 2016 @ 11:19 pm

    Thank you for representing our city and showing the Many wonderful restaurants we have.. Granted you did miss many, but you made good choices on the places you did go.. I suggest next time you come home you try Chestefields on Bleecker st home of the greens it’s a must!! Florentine pastry which is right down from Caruso’s. Joey’s on Mohawk st it’s on a corner small casual restaurant so many good things to choose from.. There’s many more but just to state a few.. You def have to try our Greek restaurants Acorpolis on James st and Karam’s on Campbell in yorkville.. These are all family owned restaurants in our city that have been here a long time.. I know there are many I’m forgetting. Make sure to come back. Thank you for a positive feedback of something we all hold dear to us our food, family and friends!!

    Reply

  21. Kate
    January 13, 2016 @ 12:54 am

    So near to see y’all visited Utica. I am from the area but have relocated to DFW. I will give you my hands down suggestions on need to go places in Utica. I’m a bit of a food junkie and always have a short time to hit all the best places while in town.

    Georgio’s HANDS DOWN for Italian greens. No question. Their veal parm and chicken franchaise is on point too. Great choice y’all made for tomato pie at Danieles.. It’s different from the other local places and I love it there. However, try Roma’s in Washington mills. They are my go to.. It’s sweet sauce and so addicting so buy a whole box. Karan’s for tabhuli and hummus. Joe’s pizza in whitesboro for upside down pizza and Tony’s in Washington mills. Holland farms jelly donuts. Cafe Canole FOR SURE for a chocolate pusti. Utica roasting is good but they’re no Adirondack Coffee company but Maybe I’m a little biased. That was THE place back in the day.

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 17, 2016 @ 9:59 pm

      Thanks for all the advice Kate!

      Reply

    • Brenda
      June 28, 2016 @ 7:01 am

      I would mirror just about all of these choices from Kate. Growing up in Utica and with my parents still there, our go to’s for nearly every family gathering are:

      Greens- Georgios
      Riggies- Chesterfields
      Tomato pie – Roma’s or Napoli’s
      Donuts/Halfmoons – Holland Farms
      Pizza (upside down)- Joes
      Pizza (traditional) – Charlie’s
      Wings – Cavallos
      Pusties/Italian pastries – Cafe CaNole
      Hot dog/bbq (non-traditional)- Voss
      Greek – Symeons
      Calamari – Symeons
      Subs – Four seasons

      We love to cook ourselves, but we always get one something above when visiting Utica!

      Reply

  22. Andrea
    January 13, 2016 @ 6:46 pm

    Glad you enjoyed Utica! You’ll have to check out Karam’s….most fabulous Lebanese food ever!

    Reply

  23. Dana
    January 13, 2016 @ 9:19 pm

    I so want to make a trip home after watching this! Chesterfield is a must for greens, hands down the best. Napoli’s and Roma’s for tomato pie. For upside down pizza try Joe’s on Main Street in Whitesboro. The Forentine is a must for pastries…and their Italian Ice is so delish. Pellettieri Joe’s is definitely an experience, but don’t ask for butter. Holland Farms is a must for half moons. Salvatore’s on Sunday morning for pizza fritte is awesome. Their spinach roll is also top notch. Cafe Canole is so yummy! I’m sure I am forgetting someplace. I am so happy and proud to be a third generation Italian from Utica.

    Reply

  24. Mary
    January 13, 2016 @ 9:37 pm

    You hit on a lot of great places. Next time try The Chesterfield, where chicken riggies and “Utica” greens were born. Yummy! Holland Farms jelly buns and chocolate or vanilla fingers.

    Reply

  25. Jules
    January 13, 2016 @ 11:00 pm

    At the risk of being obviously raised in New Hartford:

    Symeon’s souvlaki plate (with their classic bread — the thinner of the 2 flatbreads they serve);

    Cavallo’s wings (they finally offer a flavor close to the zebboriginal wings, which is the best flavor, but cavallo wings have the best texture);

    *Hemstroughts* half moons. (Harder to find now that they don’t have a storefront, but… I think they’re still made. Holland farms & Gingerbread Bake half moons are still probably better than what you’ll find “away from Utica”, although I’ve gotten some Boston bakeries to at least *try*);

    The brewery tour used be the only way you could get what is now known as Saranac Root Beer.

    Reply

  26. Carrolyn
    January 14, 2016 @ 1:46 am

    Okay I’m Dying here. I LOVE Utica food, especially Italian. Favorites of mine Joey’s on Mohawk, Cafe del Buono in New Hartford.s and Carmela’s in New Hartford. My son actually has O’scugnizzo’s tomato pie shipped to Virginia. Not cheap so you KNOW it’s good.

    Reply

    • Jeanne Burns
      January 23, 2016 @ 5:26 pm

      Lol Would love to try it

      Reply

  27. Tom-Teresa Graziadei-Lymn
    January 14, 2016 @ 10:36 am

    You must absolutely try Voss’ ! And from Holland Farms……….their famous Jellybuns !!!!!!

    Reply

  28. DSOROTHY
    January 14, 2016 @ 11:55 am

    SYMEONS IS GREAT FOR ITS CALAMARI AND ALL THERE DISHES ARE NO.ONE

    Reply

  29. Judes
    January 14, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

    Approx. A quarter of Utica’s population is made up of recent immigrants from Somalia, SE Asia and Bosnia. Perhaps Utica folk can recommend some good local ethnic eateries from the latest settlers.

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 17, 2016 @ 10:02 pm

      I would love to get some advice on that side of things. I’d love to learn more about the newer wave of immigrants and how that is changing the town and the food scene.

      Reply

  30. Mike
    January 15, 2016 @ 11:05 am

    Great article, as always.
    Right now my mouth is watering for some of the delicious-sounding foods you had while there.
    I had always thought of taking the train to Utica, never been on one, and finding a great place to eat and then train ride back home.
    Also liked the origin of your name. I had my family name changed too.
    So many people had that done.
    Again great article. I’m off for some fried bologna on Italian bread.
    And there are good Italian restaurants in Rochester too.
    Maybe some day you can ride around and sample some of these places.

    Reply

    • Chris Lindstrom
      January 17, 2016 @ 10:00 pm

      That does sound like a good time. Checking out all the old school Italian places in the Lyell Ave area could be entertaining.

      Reply

  31. medrecgal
    January 16, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

    If you’re looking for Hemstrought’s half moons (the best in the area), you can find them in 12 packs @ the Hannaford’s on Commercial Drive. DelMonico’s has fabulous Italian food (and you won’t leave hungry). Those are two I’d recommend for your next trip.

    Reply

  32. Jillian
    May 20, 2016 @ 8:50 am

    To make some non-Italian suggestions: I really like eating at Pho Mekong, it’s nearby the Refugee Center (Vietnamese food). Also the pierogis at the Polish Club nearby Varick St are AWESOME, I eat a full dozen every time I go, and if you go there get a Warka beer at the bar–they buy it from the city, and it’s brewed there, but it’s the Polish recipe.

    This article has been great, I am planning things to do with a friend and I now know most of the food I’m going to make her eat!

    Reply

  33. Utica Food Tour 2017 |
    February 20, 2017 @ 7:45 am

    […] Last winter, I spent the day driving around Utica, New York to sample each of the city’s famous food items. My good friend Chris Lindstrom, owner, author and podcaster of Food About Town, joined me as we sampled foods like Tomato Pie, Chicken Riggies, and Utica Greens. Chris and I had a blast driving around the city and exploring. If you happened to have missed that post, you can find it here. […]

    Reply

  34. Bill
    February 20, 2017 @ 10:20 pm

    Great stuff guys! Not sure if I posted here before but I have been meaning to. Born and raised in Rome, went to Utica College and now live in NYC and come back often for family, the Boilermaker and to get my fix of the regional classics I grew up eating. My faves: Florentine Pastry Shop on Bleecker Street for pusties, Voss’ BAR B Q in Yorkville for BBQ Ham sandwiches and chili dogs (their homemade BBQ sauce and chili sauce haunts my dreams!), Riverside Diner in Marcy for their Giambotta with roasted long hot peppers, Holland Farms Bakery & Deli in Yorkville for half moon cookies and jelly buns (so fresh!) and Roma Sausage & Deli on Bleecker Street for their tomato pie (still my favorite after many years. Check out Hawk Krall’s recent Saveur Magazine article on Roma’s Tomato Pie).

    As far Chicken Riggies and greens, most of my recs are in Rome. I haven’t had much experience with them in Utica but given your list and so many of the helpful replies, I will need to redouble my efforts to spend more time in Utica. I’ve also been writing on ongoing series about CNY’s regional foods (from Utica to Syracuse) titled, “You Say Fretta, I say Fritatta and the Passion of the Pusty” in the Trip Reports forum on Roadfood.com under the screen name Billyboy if you want to check it out. Should you ever want another wingman to join in the fun, just give me shout and I can probably get a day off to shoot Upstate and chow down with you guys. Cheers!

    Reply

  35. JK W
    July 3, 2017 @ 5:22 pm

    Good article, but no, that disk wasn’t Giambotte!

    Reply

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