The culinary world is expanding all the time. And no more is that truer than in the United States, where you’ll increasingly find fantastic food representing all manner of different cuisines habituating not just the biggest metropolises in the country, but small- and medium-sized cities (and, in some instances, town) coast-to-coast.
So it is with Rochester, which nowadays can proudly boast a diverse and eclectic community of restaurants; so much so it’s is fast becoming one of upstate New York’s most exciting culinary hotspots. From upscale farm-to-table American eats and classic Italian fare to finger-licking barbecue and colorful Caribbean-inspired cuisine, we give you our picks for the very best restaurants in the city that you might want to sample (in addition, of course, to so many of the excellent hotel restaurants in Rochester)…
ROC Burger on Main
(120 East Main Street Rochester, NY 14604)
Your burger, your way. From nostalgic favorites that pay homage to our locale to eclectic chef-crafted creations, ROCBurger on Main aims to please. Even if you are not much of a burger person you can also choose from other tried-and-true favorites such as salads and chicken wings. They’ve also got a delicious selection of sides. Quench your thirst from their generous beverage and sparkling beer offerings.
(165 Monroe Avenue, Park Avenue 14607)
Taking a traditional osteria as its inspiration, Rocco’s highly recommended by locals and visitors alike; the brainchild by local chef-cum-restaurateur Marc Cupolo and his partner, Dan Richards. Revered for its popular dishes comprising simple yet classic Italian cuisine, it’s entirely understandable why it’s fast developed such a glowing reputation. Small but perfectly formed (there’s only 13 tables to choose from), it’s often busy; diners lapping up the likes of linguine with white clam sauce, tender sliced steak with Parmesan-creamed Swiss chard and gourmet pizzas, such as calabrese with ricotta, oil-cured olives and Calabrian chili and the vongole topped with clams, garlic, pancetta, parsley and chili. And, lest we forget, the (naturally) Italian-only wine list tops off a dining out experience that’ll rival any in the city.
(274 Goodman Street North, 14607)
If the idea of tucking locally sourced, seasonal food that tastes great is your kind of thing, then Lento’s the place to try, for sure. Its US-centric farm-to-table eats pooled from only the very best local, seasonal produce is a big draw for many a visitor, not least as it’s to be found in the heart of the city’s ‘Neighborhood of the Arts’ (and very near many of the very best hotels in Rochester NY). You may even be familiar with the place’s executive chef and owner Art Rogers, thanks to his relatively recent appearance on the James Beard Award’s Best Chef Northeast semi-finalist list; a guarantor then surely that diners are destined a first-rate experience here. But what to have once you’re through the door and sat down at your table? Well, how about an appetizer of honey mustard-roasted quail with foie gras sausage and cranberry stuffing, wild rice and butternut squash sauce, followed by an entrée like wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with an heirloom cranberry stew, teamed with wine from the neighboring Finger Lakes Wine Country? Why not, indeed!
Sticky Lips BBQ
(830 Jefferson Road 14623)
Finally, one of the city’s most beloved venues for lip-smackingly good, casual fare, Sticky Lips BBQ is simply all about the ‘smokin’ good barbecue.’ Making use of a former automobile showroom, this place, as you may have guessed, enjoys a loyal following of BBQ cuisine fans. And it’s no slouch at all; boasting two stories both of which feature retro signage and old-school photos and a menu filled with great versions of old classics; the likes of Memphis-style pit-smoked BBQ ribs, pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, burgers, sandwiches and – impressively – vegetarian options, such as smoked BBQ tofu.