Syracuse native Caleb Piron had been practicing law in Manhattan for a little while before he made the choice to move his legal career to the back burner. "It was just an itch I had to scratch," the self-described "food nerd" says of his decision to trade pocket squares for side towels and dive into the food-service industry. "Ooh, how'd that conversation go?" I totally had to pry, secretly hoping for tales of a shrieking holiday bloodbath upon Piron breaking the news to his family. He gave this question careful consideration: "I think they're probably still a little confused."
Piron initially thought food truck, but the NYC costs were prohibitive. So he joined his brothers in Rochester, found a space in an eclectic neighborhood, and got to work. Fast-forward to Rosie's Hot Buns, Piron's new Monroe Avenue eatery that serves what he calls "slow food fast." The concept is deceptively simple: three different breads filled with a choice of proteins, sauces, and toppings. Everything is made in-house, from the yeast-risen doughs to the pickled vegetables to the pistachio butter that anchors Rosie's outrageously lush signature cookie. The beef, pork, and chicken are prepared sous vide, a method that tenderizes the meats over a long, leisurely cooking time while preserving all the taste.
The bread used in the Hot Bun has an airy focaccia feel but the flavor profile is Asian, the vegetarian option a fried tofu that's crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and dressed with a savory ginger-sesame sauce. The Corn Pocket gives off a Latin-American vibe thanks to the black beans and salsa verde, while the Spice Roll is a baked-then-griddled flatbread filled with Indian flavors, the yummy cheese-and-peas version nearly making me forget that I'm a hardcore carnivore. Each will run you $4.
The last several weeks have been a crash course in Restaurants 101 for Piron as he and manager Christian Stark worked out the kinks and tried to get Rosie's Hot Buns as streamlined as possible. (Rosie, incidentally, is Piron's bulldog; she does not work any shifts.) Plans for delivery, cold-brew coffee, wine and beer service, and housemade ice-cream sandwiches are afoot, as are set daily specials like fish tacos, Piron's take on fried chicken, and a "very cheesy" dish irresistibly named Mac & Sleaze.
Rosie's Hot Buns is located at 642 Monroe Ave. It is open Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight. Prices range from $2 to $10. For more information, call 270-5597 or visit rosieshotbuns.com.
In the raw
Local devotees of raw food and its health benefits probably already know about Damaris Pinedo and her juices, which now have a permanent home at 713 Park Ave. The certified holistic health coach recently celebrated the grand opening of Just Juice 4 Life, a charming juice bar that crafts fresh, seasonal blends of fruits and vegetables, along with smoothies and other raw-food nibbles both vegan and gluten-free. Pinedo freezes some of her creations, too; not long ago I enjoyed a refreshing mix of pineapple, parsley, and cucumber that was a far cry from the popsicles of my youth. Just Juice 4 Life, which still maintains its Sunday outpost at the Brighton Market, also offers workshops as well as various juice cleansing programs; call 270-8202 or visit foodsthatfeed.com to learn more.
Erin Bullock's Mud Creek Farm is hosting a farm-to-table dinner benefit to raise funds for the CSA farm and its converted electric tractor. The dinner, which includes a silent auction and tour of the Victor farm, takes place on Wednesday, July 10, with cocktail hour beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets start at $100; make reservations by calling 315-212-2916. For more details visit mudcreekfarm.com.
The annual Big Rib BBQ & Blues Fest goes down Thursday, July 11-Sunday, July 14, with pitmasters from around the country converging on the Highland Park Festival Site to feed ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and those crucial sides to barbecue lovers. There's also an impressive schedule of live music from local blues practitioners like Joe Beard and Steve Grills. Tickets are $5 after 3 p.m. (lunchtime admission is free) and can be found at places like The Bop Shop, online at rochesterevents.com, or by calling 888-512-SHOW.
Now that you've recovered from Real Beer Week, it's probably time to get your hops levels back up. Check out Rohrbach Brewing Company's July 9 food-and-beer pairing; the theme is Summer Pig Roast, and the menu includes steamed clams, grilled corn, salt potatoes, and spit-roasted suckling pig, plus beer accompaniment. Advance tickets are $35; visit rohrbachs.com for more details, or call 594-9800.
Reds, whites, and cruise
Presented by Corn Hill Navigation and Pittsford Wines, the Sam Patch wine-tasting cruises are back for a fifth year, providing aspiring oenophiles with the opportunity to learn about wines as the lovely Erie Canal provides a changing backdrop. The 90-minute cruises, which travel from Schoen Place to Bushnell's Basin, occur on various Wednesday and Friday evenings and cover topics ranging from the wines of South America to celebrity-owned vineyards. Advance tickets are $26 per person; get more details at samandmary.org or call 662-5748.
Thai Lao Restaurant has shut its doors at 309 University Avenue after just over a year in business.
Sully's Brickyard Pub, at one time tucked away on the South Avenue extension downtown, is now closed.
Monty's Korner, which sat where East Avenue meets Alexander Street, is no more.
Tequila Loco is now open at 7 Lawrence Street in the former Grotto space, serving Mexican food and housing what it bills as Rochester's first beer wall. Call 546-6150 to learn more, or visit tequilalocorochester.com.
During Jazz Fest the Toronto-based Yogen Früz chain debuted its downtown Rochester location on Gibbs Street, making it convenient for anyone to pop into Eastman Place for their frozen-yogurt fix. Do some advance work at yogenfruz.com.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to email@example.com.