If I've learned anything from the years that I've been writing about restaurants, it's that as prepared as you think you are as a restaurant owner, there are always going to be curve balls thrown at you and nothing is going to go exactly as planned. Opening a new place in the space where a beloved neighborhood restaurant had suddenly closed? To say the pressure was on is putting it mildly. The Old Stone Tavern recently opened in the South Avenue space previously occupied by Orbs Restaurant and Bar. The tavern's owners, Marc Taranto and Jeff Wilczewski, are ready for the challenge and are finding that listening to your customers is the best way to develop your business.
Taranto and Wilczewski are engineers by trade, and they met while working at Harris Corporation seven years ago. For years, however, Taranto has been actively pursuing his self-proclaimed "entrepreneurial spirit" and looking to open a bar-restaurant, but nothing was working out. He says the minute he walked into the old Orbs space, he had the Goldilocks "just right" feeling: "I always had a vision of what the bar I wanted to own would be like and this was it."
The bar that Taranto dreamed of opening was a neighborhood place where regulars feel comfortable coming in multiple times a week, "a dive bar that's not a dive, a sports bar vibe without being a sports bar stereotype - simple, comfortable, simple menu," Taranto explains.
The tavern's menu was inspired by some of Taranto's favorite Monroe Avenue neighborhood haunts: Acme Bar & Pizza, the now-closed Sports Page, and Dog Town. You can order pizza by the slice ($3 plus $.50 per topping) or a whole pie ($16, served in one size only, plus $2 per additional topping) and customize it from a list of proteins and veggies. Creating that perfect pie was a labor love for the crew at Old Stone, who spent a month working on the dough recipe. There are two pizza ovens in back and even a pizza press that ensures that whoever is back in the kitchen, the perfect pie will be made each time. Taranto and his wife went gluten-free a month ago, and Old Stone offers a gluten-free cauliflower crust ($10 per 10" pie, plus $.50 per topping).
Vegetarians will find Cauliflower Bites on the menu ($8) made from fresh cauliflower that's battered and served with your choice of sauce, crumbled blue cheese, and a celery puree on the side. The veggie burger, made from quinoa and black beans ($11), is gluten-free and can be made vegan (just skip the cilantro cream).
On tap, Old Stone has a mixture of domestic and craft beers but will be adding more craft beers to the roster due to customer feedback. The cocktail menu was created with keeping a certain price point in mind; you'll only find two cocktails on the menu that go over the $10 mark. "Our whole goal was to price our drink and food menus at a point where people can afford to come in here regularly and still give them quality product."
The Old Stone Tavern (758 South Avenue) is open Monday and Tuesday from 3 p.m. to midnight, and Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Food is served until half an hour before close. 448-1148; theoldstonetavern.com.
The Federation of German-American Societies will host the 2018 German Fest on Friday, August 10, from 4 to 11 p.m., and Saturday, August 11, from noon to 11 p.m., at the Spencerport's Fireman's Field (75 South Union Street). The festival will take place rain or shine and feature traditional German beverages, food, and music. Admission is $5 for adults and free for those 16 and under who are accompanied by an adult. More information on Facebook.
Good Luck (50 Anderson Avenue) will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a series of events throughout the month of August. The official 10 Year Anniversary Party will be held on Sunday, August 12, at 4 p.m. and feature complimentary food, drinks, and a DJ. Follow the restaurant on Facebook for chances to win prizes throughout the month of August. More information at restaurantgoodluck.com.
The Flour City Brewers Fest will take place on Friday, August 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Rochester Public Market (280 North Union Street). More than 60 breweries will be represented, and the festival will also feature local wineries, cideries, and distilleries. Local food trucks will be on hand and live music will be provided by Big Mean Sound Machine and Significant Other. General admission tickets are $45 and designated driver tickets are available for $10. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit flourcitybrewersfest.com.
TourRoc will host a three-brewery tour on Saturday, August 18, from noon to 5 p.m. that will make stops at Three Heads Brewing, Fifth Frame Brewing, and Iron Tug Brewing. The $60 ticket price gets you access to the five-hour tour, bus transportation, a flight of beer at each brewery, plus water and snacks on the bus. Tour directors will host beer trivia with prizes while you ride. To purchase tickets, visit tourroc.com.
Blades, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, has opened at 1290 University Avenue.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.