Old-style Italian food and an old-style Folksmarch to walk it off

I like Italian food. Which is good, because living in CNY I  have lots of Italian food options. I discovered a new option last weekend in East Utica called Joey’s.

Joey’s is not new, not at all, but was new to Wife L and I and Friends W. And it was good. Carefully prepared Italian food. Generous portions at  reasonable prices. A homey setting, complete with not red, but green and white checkered tablecloths.  That is how I would describe Joey’s: old-style Italian.

Joey's Restaurant on Mohawk Street in Utica

I mean this in a positive way.  The eight or so tables in the main dining area were all filled last Saturday night. The restaurant was busy, friendly, and a touch loud. The waitresses were hustling as they took care of tables of six and a couple other big groups in the back room.  That’s what Joey’s seems to be, a place where regulars come in big groups to enjoy big meals. The one beer on tap — Utica Club. The beer I had — Utica Club. When in Utica ….

My veal parmigian was tender and  incredibly large, topped with my favorite mozzarella cheese and a rich, robust tomato sauce. It was  served atop perfectly done pasta. My salad was a bit ho-hum, but the bread was warm and crusty. Wife L had the veal saltimbocco, again a wonderful piece of veal but this time served with prosciutto on a bed of escarole.  She loved it, and brought half of it home for Daughter B.

Friend D enjoyed his chicken riggies, the CNY favorite. He almost opted for the ribs and riggies special but chose the  main menu entrée instead. He was not disappointed. Friend R had the shrimp scampi, the five large shrimp perfectly cooked.

We had considered going to The Willows, over on Culver Street in Utica, but opted instead for Joey’s.  There also is Alee’s, a little closer to downtown on Elizabeth Street. I consider both places a little more refined Italian and a little higher-end atmosphere. Like I said, good options for Italian abound.

I was glad that the next day, in a bid to walk off my dinner,  I participated in my first Folksmarch. These are non-competitive walking events  staged once a month by the YMCA of Greater Syracuse. This Folksmarch was in the village of Fayetteville, and if you completed the well-mapped route, which Wife L, Father-in-law D, Dog F, and I did, you can buy a book for just a couple bucks and get it stamped. That entitles you to a neat pin.

OK, so Wife L and I were among the youngest folks there, but I dug it. I got a pin of the Matilda Joslyn Gage house on Route 5 in the village. The house was open to us as part of our walk, and the renovation of the space, still underway, is terrific.

Gage was an important advocate of women’s rights in the mid-1800s and she also opened her home to runaway slaves, making it the only dedicated stop on the Underground Railroad in Onondaga County. What I also learned as I walked through the exhibitions was that her daughter married L. Frank Baum in the Fayetteville house. Baum, he of the Wizard of Oz books, was mentored by Gage, who encouraged him to the write the stories.

It’s really amazing what you notice when you are walking instead of driving through neighborhoods. The 5K walk took us past wonderful cottages and stately homes just past the Town of Manlius Community Center, and then past  homes and pocket parks behind the Wellwood Middle School.  There are really beautiful homes in the area, and we also walked by the old Stickley factory,  which now houses a museum about the famous furniture makers.

All in all, a fantastic way to spend a wonderful autumn day. The next walk is at the North Area YMCA in Clay on Dec. 10-11. Might not be quite as nice weather as last Sunday but, hey, a new pin awaits.

Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville

2 thoughts on “Old-style Italian food and an old-style Folksmarch to walk it off

  1. Casa Di Copani sounds interesting, I must have passed it on Burnet Avenue but never knew or thought to stop. I will next time I’m up that way. Thanks for the good recommendation! We all occasionaly falter and succumb to the flashy allure and often empty promise of a chained restaurant. But as long as penance is performed and a renewed vow to only unchained restaurants is made, we can move on without guilt. 😉

  2. Sounds wonderful! I had lunch at a chained seafood restaurant. (Introducing my teenaged son – please don’t hate). Your Italian food sounds great – may try Joey’s next time I’m that way. I’ve been wanting to mention – if you’re ever in Syracuse looking for Italian, I just love Casa Di Copani. Veal DiCopani is out of this world.

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