Updated: Oct 30, 2018
It’s true that nothing compares to New York City food. There’s a reason why there are countless food blogs and Instagrams, like @nycfoodgals, @new_fork_city and @nycfoodcoma, dedicated to the delicacies that you can only find on the streets of the Big Apple. But, when you go to school in the middle-of-nowhere suburbia of Central New York, a lunch at ABC Kitchen or a dinner at Serafina isn’t feasible. Luckily, CNY is home to several of its own dining all-stars. From seafood to tapas to Italian (and lots of it!) here are my personal recommendations for NYC-worthy food in Central New York.
Laci’s Tapas Bar, Syracuse, NY
If you’re bored of typical, run-of-the-mill dinner spots head to Laci’s Tapas Bar in Syracuse. Nestled in a unique and intimate house-turned-restaurant, Laci’s Tapas Bar is home to an expansive menu of tapas that changes seasonally. Laci’s encourages its patrons to “eat small, live large” with its unique dining experience. There are tapas for just about every flavor palette on the menu, from Spanish Sliders to Shrimp & Grits, to my personal favorite, Mac N’ Cheese Eggrolls. Laci’s also makes its own signature sauce, Laci’s Lucious Sauce, which can be purchased by the jar due to its popularity. Laci’s is the perfect spot for a long dinner while catching up with friends; come hungry and be prepared to try new things!
Sugar & Co., Syracuse, NY
Sugar & Co. is the perfect spot to satisfy the sweet tooth in all of us. This wine and dessert bar is a true hidden gem in Syracuse. Sugar & Co.’s dinner menu is incredible, but the real reason I’m recommending this restaurant is its to-die-for desserts. Sugar & Co. has one of those menus that makes it hard to order just one dish. The desserts range from classic, like the Flourless Chocolate Cake, to innovative, like the ‘Bees Knees’ (AKA, the best dessert I have ever tasted), a vanilla cake covered in a toasted lemon meringue and raspberry mousse “hive” with a white chocolate honey sauce. Aside from its delicious desserts, Sugar & Co. is also home to bi-weekly “Flight Nights” for customers to sample wine, as well as daily Happy Hour specials.
Blue Water Grill, Skaneateles, NY
Naturally, it’s a bit difficult to find good quality seafood when you live hundreds of miles from the coast. But, Blue Water Grill in Skaneateles puts many NYC and even Boston seafood restaurants to shame. The gorgeous lakeside atmosphere of the restaurant perfectly complements the seafood-filled menu. Lobster bisque, clam chowder, lobster rolls, crab cakes, fish tacos, fresh sushi and poke bowls adorn Blue Water Grill's menu. Despite being known for its seafood, the restaurant also offers plenty of yummy vegetarian options, from goat cheese and gorgonzola salads to corn chowder soup and signature Blue Water vegetarian nachos.
The York, Syracuse, NY
The York is one of those restaurants that will make you feel like you’re having dinner in downtown Manhattan, even though you’re just in Syracuse. The modern menu features American cuisine with a twist, featuring everything from a raw bar to sushi to steaks and burgers to poutine. My absolute favorites on the menu include the local cheese board; the skillet-served s'mores dip; the gruyere, mozzarella and asiago mac & cheese; and, of course, the “Impossible Burger”, a veggie burger topped with coleslaw, sriracha mayo, fries and pickles. I’d be lying if I said The York isn’t the spot where I celebrate most of my friends’ birthdays; the menu truly never gets old.
Peppino’s Neapolitan, Syracuse, NY
DISCLAIMER: I am a bit biased when it comes to Peppino’s Neapolitan; running all of the restaurant’s social media channels has turned me into a die-hard Peppino’s fan. But, give it a try, and you’ll agree that it’s the best pizza in Syracuse. Peppino’s Neapolitan isn’t just your average pizza. The flame-fired pizza is traditional Italian-style and is topped with deliciously unexpected toppings, like goat cheese and Mike’s Hot Honey or garlic butter and baby clams. I especially love the two completely vegan pies on the menu: the Vegan Moroccan and the Vegan Mediterranean. If you’re not a pizza-lover, Peppino’s Neapolitan also serves up incredible homemade pasta that’s made in the restaurant’s traditional Neapolitan pasta room.
XO Taco, Syracuse, NY
One of the Syracuse restaurant scene’s newest additions, XO Taco is essentially the Bar Taco of CNY. XO Taco is home to hand-crafted cocktails, homemade hot sauces, handmade tortillas and an atmosphere that will make you forget that you’re in the suburbs. Besides just tacos, XO Taco is home to delicious sides and desserts like churros served with Mexican hot chocolate sauce and “Macho Fries”, cumin-dusted fries topped with arguably the best queso dip in all of Syracuse.
Fabio’s Antica Cucina, Syracuse, NY
I write this review with a heavy heart, as one of my favorite Italian restaurant’s in Syracuse, Fabio’s Antica Cucina, temporarily closed down in June. Regardless, I wanted to share some of the restaurant's delicious dishes while I patiently wait for it to reopen. Fabio’s main attraction was the flaming cheese wheel that was served as an appetizer tableside with fresh pasta (yes, it was just as incredible as it sounds). Fabio’s also offered a large variety of authentic Italian pizza and pasta dishes, as well as appetizers like toasted ravioli and steamed mussels.
Luttrell, Regina. Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019.