Even after slaking thirsts for more than 40 years, Charlotte Tavern remains committed to the timeless spirit of the traditional tavern. This is evident in everything from the plaid wallpaper, wood panelling, and black-and-white photographs on the walls to the fact that the same family has been running it for three generations. Behind the bar, they pour microbrews and mix cocktails throughout the night to fuel games of pool, darts, and shuffleboard.
The menu similarly embraces the classics?but it's far from predictable. In addition to traditional 1-pound burgers, Charlotte Tavern challenges diners with its 3-pound Killer Burger, which is free for anyone who manages to clean their plate or happens to own the bar. Shepherd's pie and beer-battered fish round out the comfort-food selection while surprises such as duck with a homemade black-cherry-bourbon sauce are also available.
With locations scattered throughout Rochester, the locally owned Cordello's serves hearty casual Italian fare to sate appetites of any size. Small, medium, and large pies arrive sliced into fourths, eighths, or twelfths and sport hearty toppings such as breaded chicken, bacon, or steak, while sheet-size pizzas extend to 32 slices to feed hungry party guests or test the division skills of the hungriest three. Plates of homemade Italian specialties perch upon tabletops in Cordello's family-friendly dining rooms, and delivery cars bear toasty boxes across the local area, allowing customers to enjoy the feast without leaving home. Committed to supporting the local community, the restaurant sponsors local schools and organizations, while hosting special events for youth, such as a "Make Your Own Pizza Day."
Since 1987, the specialists at Encore Chocolates have been sweetening weddings, holidays, and special get-togethers with handmade chocolate specialties. For each artisan truffle and cream-filled candy, the team selects the perfect type of chocolate based on sweetness, creaminess, and texture. Products range from delicate milk chocolate with 33% cocoa to bold bittersweet chocolate with 72% cocoa, which pairs well with naturally sweet foods such as ripe berries or syrup milked fresh from a maple tree.
Captained by Chef Mario, the friendly staff at Carpani's welcomes customers with a menu brimming with steamy dishes of house-made pasta and other authentic Italian fare. Classic dishes include eggplant parmesan ($12) and chicken madeira ($15) sprinkled with sautéed mushrooms and peppers tinted in sepia shades. Through sheer coincidence, the chef shares his name with Nintendo's most heroic mushroom lover as well as the chicken à la Captain Mario ($16), which meshes sizzling chicken with buttery artichokes and roasted red peppers, sprinkled with a crisp layer of broccoli and black olives on a king-size bed of house-made pasta. Classic Italian surf dishes include the seafood alla rocco ($23), a sea of spicy marinara enveloping a medley of clams, mussels, and scallops.
Mr. Dominic's at the Lake's chefs have mixed together a vast menu of Italian cuisine for more than 25 years, from fresh seafood to all-natural veal prepared a dozen ways. Embark on comestible excursions with 12 steamed little neck clams ($8), which, when emptied, can be repurposed as castanets for impromptu percussion solos. Friday evening fish fries let diners dig into french haddock, sautéed in a lemon, butter, and wine sauce and escorted to tables with an entourage of pasta, potatoes, salad, or vegetables ($15). Meanwhile, the namesake Veal Dominic sautés tender cutlets with mushrooms, black olives, and artichoke hearts in a white-wine sauce ($19), and house-made ravioli packages stuffed with veal and spinach ($13) make great gifts for stomachs and neighbors' baby showers.