The Rochester food scene has blossomed over the past two decades with numerous restaurants taking center stage around town. Names that frequently get mentioned on this stage include Good Luck, Dinosaur BBQ, 2 Vine, Tony D’s, The Revelry, Tapas, Rocco and Label 7. The list goes on, but what about the quality eateries that aren’t on everyone’s radar? These are the hidden gems that don’t have mainstream attention for reasons related to location, signage or being overshadowed by the over-abundance of dining options. Either way, all the places below should be on the collective minds of local food lovers and join the conversation for Rochester’s quality restaurants.
5) Tavern 58 at Gibbs
58 University Ave, Rochester
The Tavern is located in a remote part of the city that you’ve probably never traveled by. However, once you find this rustic retreat, you’ll know you have found a steak-lovers haven. With several cuts of savory meats lining the menu, it is the sirloin filets that lead the pack. You will be impressed with the Surf ‘n’ Turf – an 8 oz filet with two lump crab stuffed shrimp and an exquisite tarragon mustard sauce. Also, get their tavern wings as an appetizer that are drizzled with a creative balsamic reduction and srirachi. Be sure to take advantage of their happy hour everyday from 4:30 – 6:30 pm and their covered outdoor seating when the weather allows.
- Wednesday – BYOB wine with no corkage fee
4) The Sea Restaurant
741 Monroe Ave, Rochester
You have probably driven past this Monroe Ave spot a million times and not thought much of it. In fact, at the time of this article posting, The Sea doesn’t have an official sign out front. No matter, if you like Southeast Asian cuisine and in particular pho, this is the best place around. Pho is a popular Vietnamese soup that has rice noodles, herbs and meat in a tasty broth. They have several options, but get the beef special pho that comes loaded with flank, brisket, rare steak, tendon, tripe and meatballs. We also recommend starting off with their shrimp and pork spring rolls that are delicately wrapped in rice paper with lettuce, mint and vermicelli.
137 W Commercial St, East Rochester
Let’s face it, East Rochester is a suburb you rarely pass through. This is mainly because the well traveled Route 31F runs parallel to the village, but never goes through it. More people should take the trip through, because ER is filled with quality shops and restaurants – most notably the Italian mecca, Lemoncello. The menu is brimming with old-world Italian dishes with the aptly named Lemoncello Chicken as the marque item. The chicken comes piled over linguine and loaded with artichokes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes & spinach with lemon & cream sauce that is superb. Some different menu items to try are the chicken parmesan and rack of lamb. They also have a fantastic happy hour from 4-7 pm and a side patio for outdoor dining.
- Tuesday – BYOB wine with no corkage fee
2) Olives Restaurant
50 State St, Pittsford, NY
Schoen Place in Pittsford is littered with quality restaurants along the canal – which is why Olives can sometimes be overshadowed. It shouldn’t be because Olives has some of the most appetizing Greek food in Rochester. Any of the gyros are worth getting, but the Cuban Gyro is on another level. It comes loaded with delicious gyro meat, kasseri cheese, dill pickle, red onion and remodule sauce all wrapped in a warm pita. They also always have home made soups on special that you should try. If the temperature allows, the front patio is the perfect setting for outdoor dining among their lush plant life.
1) Restaurant Lucano
1815 East Ave, Rochester
If there was ever the perfect example of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ it is Lucano. This upscale Italian oasis is tucked away in an ambiguous plaza, fit with a retro pink awning on East Avenue. You would never know what lies inside by this lackluster store front. Upon entering, you are immediately impressed by the upscale decor and a menu filled with traditional Italian dishes with only the freshest ingredients. The must-have menu item is the gnocchi al sugo di agnello. This is a light potato gnocchi served under a red lamb sauce that is bursting with flavor. Also, make sure to start your meal with their colorful caprese antipasti that comes with heavy slices of fresh bufala mozzarella and tomato.
What are your hidden gem restaurants in Rochester? Let us know in the comments.