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.
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.