Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse
We first went to the Delmonico's in Utica when we were visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown a couple years ago. We also visited the Ommegang Brewery, and had worked up strong appetites. I consulted my guidebook I bought when we first moved here, and there didn't seem to be a whole lot in Utica listed, but Delmonico's sounded interesting (here is the menu). We went there, and I got the full pound lasagna (wow), not sure if I finished it all or not (I definitely haven't since then). I remember liking the cocktail glasses, and liking how many celebrations seemed to be taking place all at once (birthdays, family get togethers, couples on dates). Going to Delmonico's seemed like a super popular thing to a certain group of people - and I immediately liked it for what it was. Sure it is not Italian-Italian but as far as Italian-American goes, I think it is great. It is so much better than it needs to be. Upon coming home we realized there was one in Albany too, and went back there many times.
Things I love: garlic butter, the fact the bread is actually good, the use of the cherry peppers in several dishes (like Chicken Riggies, and East Utica Greens pictured above at home after we picked them up for take-out), the meat sauce, the vodka sauce and of course those greens. I think the East Utica Greens are really the highlight of it all - "Escarole sautéed w/ Garlic, Prosciutto, Bread Crumbs, Romano & Hot Peppers" (I discussed them a little bit in this post). I also can't get enough of the Chicken Riggies - "Rigatoni Pasta, Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, Onions, Olives, Hot Peppers and Chicken in our Special Light Sauce". And I enjoy the tortellini (the only thing I have had that doesn't come in a ridiculous portion size): "Tortellini, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Grape Tomatoes and Hot Peppers tossed in a Garlic & Olive Oil Butter Sauce". People really seem to love this place, and the fedoras on the waitresses are entertaining. In you do take-out you can save yourself from the endless "Happy Birthday" singing renditions, which do get to be a bit much sometimes. Also, the portions are ridiculous. One waitress once told us that she orders the chicken parm special combination that comes with eggplant parm, and that it is so much food it feeds her and her boyfriend for dinner that night and lunch the next day. When we get take-out we usually only do one entrée, unless we want tons of leftovers.
Overall, it is simple. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it is, and at that it succeeds. With Delmonico's around, there is no reason to ever go to the Olive Garden.