Bill and I love to take impromptu drives. It gives us a chance to talk and steal away from the steady hustle and bustle of our lives. Last night, our drive landed us in New Hartford, New York near Utica.
If you are not looking for Georgio's Village Cafe, you will drive right past it. We were merely looking for a place to grab a cup of tea and a something to munch on. I happened to see a patroned filled cafe out of the corner of my eye and we decided to stop. Instead of a medium chais and a pastry, we feasted on some mouth-watering greens, chicken francsaise, chicken riggies, mozzarella sticks, steamed veggies, and tossed salad. Oh - and a lemon marscapone cake to top it all off. Yeah - this was much better than what we had in mind!
Ok, let me take a step back. There are two entrances into the restaurant. You may enter from the back parking lot which places you in an ultra narrow hallway snuggled next to the bathroom doors or you may enter from Genesee St. which places you in a very cramped "bar". There are about 6 tables for people who are waiting to be seated for dinner, but if it is packed as it was when we were there, you will be standing for a long time. I can't imagine how cramped it must get when there is inclement weather. The tiny space did not turn us away because the smell of the food was amazing. Also, you could tell that the other waiting patrons were regular customers who would wait 2 hours if necessary. We waited for about 45 minutes. We had the privilege of speaking to one regular patron who told us that it was worth the wait and that we had to try the greens.
Utica Greens - Oh the greens! Apparently, Utica greens is a famous regional dish. It is usually comprised of escarole, chopped italian peppers, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, parmesean cheese and some type of prosciutto or salami. We were told that every restaurant has their own version of the greens and that there was some rivalry about who makes the best . The greens, which we ordered without the pork, were just scrumptious.
What we did not know at the time was that the "Chicken Riggies" were also part of Utica Fare. There is actually a Riggie Fest. In addition to Utica greens and chicken riggies, there is also something called halfmoons. These are black and white cookies that originated in Utica, NY at the famous Hemstrought's Bakery in the early part of the 20th century .
The waitress we had was very attentive, which impressed us because the place was swamped with customers. The dining space is romantic, but really snuggy. They have mastered the art of fitting the maximum amount of people in the little space.
We would definitely eat there again. Actually, if we were in the area, we probably would not eat anywhere else.