Flames dance inside the wood-fired oven at The Gate House Cafe, heating its gleaming surfaces to temperatures as high as 700 degrees. The oven's radiant heat is the backbone of the eatery's rustic, comfort-driven menu, yielding dishes that range from gourmet pizzas and chicken wings to wood-fired macaroni and goat cheese.
Gate House Cafe's pizzas are named after Rochester landmarks, but their culinary inspiration comes from southern Italy. Chef Ross Hopkins and his team knead dough made with Tipo 00 Italian flour, topping it off with organic mozzarella and tomatoes from San Marzano valley. They serve creative pies, too, such as the ones below, and often use ingredients from their organic garden.
|The MAG||The Park Avenue|
|Asiago and ricotta cheeses lend an extra layer of creaminess to the MAG pie, and fried eggplant adds toothsome texture.||Hummus is an unexpected pizza-topper, but here, it works well alongside grilled vegetables, goat cheese, roasted garlic, and tomato coulis.|
|The Strasenburgh||Gluten-Free or Vegan|
|With toppings that include blackened sirloin, blue cheese, and asparagus, The Strasenburgh delivers the sumptuousness of a steak-house dinner in pizza form.||Chef Hopkins is happy to accommodate gluten-free and vegan diners.|
At Juan & Maria's Empanada Stop, a bell chimes regularly throughout the day, ringing along with the festive Latin music in the background. Its sound does not indicate the time, however?it greets every 50th customer to the empanada hot spot and rewards him or her with $5 worth of complimentary Spanish cuisine. When Chilean couple Juan and Maria Contreras opened their stand in 2000, they rarely had the opportunity to use the bell, as they were serving between 10 and 20 empanadas on any given Saturday. Today they dish out a minimum of 1,000 empanadas each day, vying to beat their current record of 1,504 empanadas sold in eight hours.
Their popularity stems in part from a commitment to traditional, healthy cooking methods. Each of their empanadas is handmade and stuffed with one of 12 types of filling, including 90% lean beef and pork as well as vegetarian options. The deep fryers are filled with light salad oil, and none of the menu items include chemicals or preservatives. Juan and Maria extend the same homemade treatment to their fruit juices, which can be frozen and sold as "Juan-sicles," and their four hot sauces: green gold, red gold, spanish mayo and spanish ketchup.
Attitude accounts for a second element of the pair's success. Their mix of hospitality and cultural pride draws diners to the turquoise shop, where Juan exuberantly lists the specials to newcomers. They have hosted the Juan & Maria's International Spanish Festival for the past four years, showcasing customs from 20 Spanish-speaking countries alongside their empanadas.
Twenty years as a traveling salesman was more than enough for James Brown. So when he finally decided it was time to set down his roots, he turned to something that sang of home: his passion for cooking. And that passion shines throughout his menu. In the hearty breakfast selections, guests can see it in the signature stuffed french toast?made from bread that's baked in-house?as well as more imaginative items, such as the Greek-inspired diner breakfast with gyro meat. Then there are the half-pound burgers, po-boy sandwiches with Cajun-spiced chicken, and James Brown's legendary Friday-night barbecue. Such a range hints at two things: that James's passion isn't picky, and that his inspiration comes from everywhere. And indeed, if a diner gives James a recipe that matches the standards of his menu, not only will he put it there, he'll even name it after the guest who gave it to him.
This inclusionary style echoes throughout the diner itself. Checkered tiles run across the floor from the front door to the back wall, passing a scattered assortment of tables and booths that look in on the open kitchen. And as a diehard Yankees fan, James fills two entire sections of a wall with memorabilia, including black-and-white photographs of past rosters and fan fiction that imagines the team being comprised only of James Brown clones.
Lovin’ Cup’s owners had a dream of creating a place that celebrates life’s pleasures and offers the unique and personal experience each of their customers seeks. And to achieve that dream, it took the combined efforts of all five owners to truly fill Lovin' Cup to the brim, each one specializing in a different area of the culinary arts or entertainment. The crew started with a simple, delicious menu of familiar eats made right, such as Angus beef burgers, gourmet pizzas, and hearty sandwiches. They paired these, with an array of craft beers on tap – plus more than 50 varieties in bottles – and a carefully curated list of international wines.
To entertain the brain's higher functions, they host game nights every Monday, open mic performances every Tuesday, and live music of every genre on Thursdays. Performances rotate between jazz, alt-country, indie, and rock groups as often as they change out their drafts on tap and, presumably, their socks. And finally, the owners paid similarly close attention to the artistic décor of their space, from the polished wood of their wine racks and tables to the mutable collection of art that peppers the walls.
Without a month or so of vacation, it'd be almost impossible to sample authentic noodle dishes from four different countries. However, aja noodle co. can help you accomplish this feat over the course of a single lunch hour. Its pan-Asian menu incorporates regional dishes from Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand, all made individually and from scratch using fresh produce and proteins.
Though the food has its roots in tradition, it's all fully customizable. Guests choose which protein?including veggies, tofu, chicken, beef, or shrimp?they want mixed in with their pad thai or rice bowls. They can also swap out one type of noodles for another, perhaps exchanging lo mein for soba or rice noodles for shoelaces they brought from home. Sauces infused with spicy black beans or sweet coconut milk give the bowls a flavorful base, and vegetarian and vegan options are available for folks with dietary restrictions. aja noodle co. also offers a selection of beer and wine by the glass or bottle and a wide arrange of original recipe sake cocktails.
Ryan MacNamara spent his childhood summers on the south New Jersey shore, where he grew to love the philadelphia cheesesteaks he and his family picked up from local delis. The restaurateur adored the sandwiches so much that he opened a shrine to the cheesy treat: Mac’s Philly Steaks. One of his biggest obstacles was finding an authentic roll on which to serve his cheesesteaks; in the end, he decided to import Amoroso’s rolls directly from Philadelphia. To dovetail with the City of Brotherly Love–inspired food, the decor at the Geneva location features red-and-white-checkered flooring, mural depicting urban splendor, and Rocky beating the bread to the right level of softness.
The eatery's menu catalogs classic chicken and steak phillys as well as a few versions with a twist, such as the bacon-blue and chicken finger parmesan. Metromix praised the sandwiches for their soft bread and ideal ratio of toppings, a “generous but manageable” portion.