A lot can happen over the course of 55 years. People come and go, babies are hatched, and kids grow up. But some things never change, things like the family recipes used at Valente’s Restaurant. The Valentes opened the eatery back in 1958, and since then, have been serving many of the same dishes Nadine Valente created in Italy all those years ago.
The menu features a wide variety of familiar Italian classics, from veal cacciatore to fettucine carbonara, all served alongside grilled-to-order steaks, chops, and fresh seafood. It also features the more recently invented Three Little Pigs mac ’n’ cheese, which coats noodles, Italian ham, bacon, and salami in a creamy cheese sauce. This award-winning favorite is now available frozen at Price Chopper Supermarkets and other local stores.
Since opening the first location in 2004, the crew behind Hot Harry’s has attracted a slew of press for their Mexican-fusion fare. Chefs marinate six varieties of meat in cilantro, lime, and fresh-squeezed oranges before stuffing them in warm flour tortillas or piñatas designed for a butcher's retirement party. In addition to the classic triad of guacamole, sour cream, and cheese, they can enhance burritos with drizzles of thai-peanut and buffalo sauce.
When Nord Brue and Mike Dressell began perfecting their bagel recipe with the help of a professional NYC bagel maker in 1983, the bagel was still an anomaly in the food world—it was geographically and culturally still isolated in New York City. Fueled by a desire to change that, the duo opened up the first Bruegger's deli with the hope of eventually introducing the rest of the country to the bagel. Brue and Dressell have since realized their dream, sharing their distinctive recipes and culinary traditions at 300 locations spread across 26 states. To this day, they oven-bake their centerless bread rolls every morning and afternoon, populating counter displays that also brim with daily made breads, Vermont cream cheese, and custom-roasted coffee.
Executive Chef Phillip Smith and his network of chefs still use the original five-ingredient recipe for their dough, which they shape into more than 20 bagel varieties. Because they draw from each region's local recipes and from dialogue and Pictionary games with local consumers, certain menu items may vary from store to store across the country. The bagels are often served with Bruegger's eclectic cream cheeses such as bacon scallion or pumpkin, or as sandwiches with meats, cheeses, and veggies often sourced from local or organic produce. Coffe gets just as much attention, with house blends of 100% arabica coffee.
The only way to top Sea Fish Market and Grill's seafood selection would be to become a treacherous chancellor to the Monarch of Waters. Fortunately, you don't have to go that far. Diners can dig into spicy fish tacos with sriracha aioli, crab cake sandwiches in a spicy remoulade, or tortilla-crusted tilapia tinged with chili lime. The shop also slings fresh fish to take home and prepare, with possible offerings including scottish salmon, bay scallops, mahi-mahi, and chilean sea bass.
Even as a child, Justin Engineri loved cooking for his family and friends. His passion never waned, and after graduating from culinary school in 2001, he mastered his craft at restaurants in Providence, Rhode Island, and Albany, New York. Now, as Portofino's executive chef, he continues to prepare Sicilian and Mediterranean dishes according to age-old traditions. His arsenal of pastas cooked al dente includes homemade pappardelle and linguine, angel hair, and gluten-free noodles, which he tops with ingredients such as house pomodoro sauce and local cheese. Along with heaping pasta courses, Portofino's entrees range from caramelized scallops to a signature veal rub served with roasted trumpet mushrooms, which grow only in the dark, cool practice spaces of area jazz bands.