- ILLUSTRATION BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
Scrolling through my social media accounts, I frequently have two thoughts: One, the people I follow are going out to eat a lot in Rochester; and two, I want what they're having. Between my full-time job, my freelancing job, and another part-time job, I don't really have a lot of time to get out and try all of the dishes that pop up on my feed. And those dishes give me serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out, for those who actually like using their words).
In the interest of self-care and living my truth, I decided to clear my schedule for the day, go out, and try as many of those dishes as I could in 24 hours. Below is what an ideal food day in Rochester looks like for me. FOMO? No mo'.
My day started at McCann's Local Meats (739 South Clinton Avenue, @mccannslocalmeats on Instagram) for the homemade buttermilk pancakes. Every time this dish shows up on my Instagram feed, I get angry that I'm not there shoveling it into my mouth. The pancake preparation mirrors that of a Dutch baby pancake, which results in a crisp outside and fluffy interior.
The cakes are topped with homemade whipped cream made with Pittsford Dairy cream and served with a side of maple syrup from Kettle Ridge Farm in Victor. It's a celebration of local ingredients and I, too, was celebrating because I checked this one off my FOMO food list. McCann's serves brunch on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The rest of the brunch menu is nothing to shake a stick at, with homemade corned beef hash and shakshuka, a Mediterranean baked eggs dish.
Asking someone in Rochester about who has the best pizza is almost as intense as asking who has the best garbage plate: people have opinions that they feel very strongly about, and they are not afraid to let you know what is good and what is shit. Based on the fact that multiple people I follow on social media check in to Pizza Stop (131 State Street, @thepizzastoproc on Instagram) at least once a week, I knew that was going to be my second stop on my FOMO food tour.
Pizza Stop excels at the New York-style thin crust pizza by the slice; I went for a slice of plain cheese loaded up with dried oregano, crushed red pepper, and parmesan cheese — and it totally lived up to the hype. The State Street location is open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and until 8 p.m. on Fridays. A second location has recently opened at 2532 Ridgeway Avenue.
I had some time to kill before my dinner reservation, so I headed over to Flight Wine Bar (262 Exchange Boulevard, @flightwineroc on Instagram) in Corn Hill Landing. Sitting out on the patio with three flights of wine and a cheese board in front of me is my idea of happy hour. The flight menu is organized by various categories; I'm a red wine drinker and my go-to is the Smooth Operator, which includes a Sangiovese, a Pinot Noir, and a Syrah.
Whether you favor red or white, sweet or dry, or you want to stick with the bubbly, there are 12 different flight categories to choose from. As for the cheese, I selected three: a Pecorino Toscano, Espresso BellaVitano, and a Barber's Cheddar. The cheese board is served with baguette and honey, although you can request a gluten-free cracker instead.
The menu at French bistro Roux (688 Park Avenue, @Roux688 on Instagram) changes seasonally, and the nightly special changes with that menu as well. The spring menu at Roux has a Côte de Boeuf ("beef rib") special on Saturday nights and once that popped up on Roux's Instagram feed, I didn't just want it, I needed it. The beef rib cut is one of the more flavorful cuts of beef and it doesn't hurt that it's presented with two sizeable pats of butter sprinkled with chives on top. It's decadent. The steak is served on top of oven-roasted potatoes that soak up all that delicious au jus. Other spring specials at Roux include a Bouillabaisse (seafood stew) on Friday nights that is not to be missed as well as dollar oysters on Wednesdays.
The Spirit Room (139 State Street, @thespiritroomroc on Instagram) has been open less than a year, but already has a following for its Southern-influenced menu and craft cocktails. I knew this was where I was going to end my FOMO food tour. One dish in particular is photographed and posted more than the others: the Magic Banana Pudding. Go ahead, look up the Spirit Room on Instagram, and scroll through until you see it — I'll wait.
It doesn't get much more Southern than banana pudding, a mixture of vanilla custard, fresh banana, whipped cream, and in The Spirit Room's recipe, animal crackers. It's luscious, creamy, and the perfect end to a day of treating myself to all the good food I've been wanting to try around town.
Where would you go if you were to plan an ideal food day in Rochester? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.