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NY road trip

I'll be embarking a road trip from Toronto to NYC in early march. Any good restaurants/bakery/snack places that are worth stopping along highway 90 and 87???

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  1. you might want to try the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. another spot is Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown.

    1. Perhaps if you gave us an idea of where your "pit stops" will be we can better help. My sense is once you hit Albany its a short final trip to NYC so you might want Albany and West?
      Syracuse and Albany seem logical stopping points. Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse is a must! In Albany there are a number if choices. What are you looking for?

      2 Replies
      1. re: swarttav

        Well, the "pit stops" have the close to the highway for sure. I don't really care if it's Albany and west or Albany and south, anywhere along the highway is fine. I'm not really looking for anything specific. Preferably places where we can grab a quick bite since I have to make it to CIA (visiting my friend first) by dusk. How far is Dinosaur BBQ from the highway?

        1. re: oohlala

          It is about 15 minutes off I-90 in Syracuse - you go south on I-81 for a short bit and it is very close to an exit but you will want to Mapquest it. Here are the directions from their web site


      2. but....the cia's a good 20-30 minute ride off the thruway. i suspect you wouldn't want to travel that far, even though the cia is quite good.

        there are some decent places in new paltz (which is a couple minutes off the thruway) - see earlier posts for other ideas.

        if you've got several people, stop in the meat place in new paltz and look for the apple cream cheesecake. it's made by these guys:


        but the problem is, you can't get a slice, you have to get the whole pie. it runs $12 or so, and is just so good....

        3 Replies
        1. re: bob gaj

          my take is that 15-20 minutes is no big deal. having said that, cia has to be judged for what it is: a school.
          btw, deb and i drove up the hudson valley from stamford last fall to montreal and quebec. mighty-fine road trip.

          1. re: steve h.

            Hey bob and steve, I forgot to mention this when I posted in my previous msg. I have a friend who goes to CIA, now so i am DEFINITELY stopping there for a day!!! Hopefully he'll be able to hook us up with all the amazing food that he raves about~

            I'll google map new paltz for sure. One whole apple cream cheesecake..... oh man, can't wait~

            1. re: oohlala

              oh, ok - i think the cia is quite good, but i thought you meant somewhere close to the thruway. and if you've got someone who goes there, it goes from a "well, it's off the way" to "it's perfect, since you've got 30 minutes to see a friend AND get good food".

              jack's meats is the place i remember in new paltz; it's on the right (north) bound side of the street. but maybe email catskill cakes and see which stores they've given their products to? i know the adams by me, although listed as selling them, doesn't usually carry it....and jack's is off and on for it.

              i'll warn you that the entrance onto route 9 north (from 44/55) can be a bit tricky depending on traffic.

        2. Sure, get off 87 in Latham, NY (exit 5 I believe). Take a left, go about 2 miles to Bella Napoli. Great pastries, donuts, and sandwiches . Easy on/off 87. I would mapquest it to get more details but it is a great place and inexpensive as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: TonyO

            A good bakery, for sure. But it is north of 90 and this person is heading south.

            If Oohlala wants to get off 90 at Schenectady (via 890), a great choice would be Villa Italia Pasticceria. It's at 226 Broadway.

            1. re: TonyO

              I have to second Tony's recommendation. Bella Napoli Bakery is an excellent choice and definately worth the trip if you are anywhere in the Albany area! I'm serious. I think about this place every time I step into a bakery. They have great standard bakery fare. Good fresh donuts with real fruit compote fillings. But, the real reason to go there is their Italian pastries. I've lived in NYC and Boston for many years and have yet to find the same selection, quality ingredients and price!!!. None of that filler whipped cream or stale, greasy or soggy shells! Chocolate dipped cannolis filled fresh with real ricotta cheese with tiny slivers of candied citrus fruits and chocolate chips mixed in. Rum cakes with real chocolate and vanilla custurd fillings between two layers of italian sponge cake lightly soaked in rum. I dream about this stuff!

            2. if you're hankering for great Indian food, Karavalli is a short hop north on 87. http://www.karavallilatham.com
              They have a new second location off 890 in Rotterdam in the Quality Inn, 2788 Hamburg Street.
              But that's only if you bypass Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse 'cause you won't be hungry by the time you reach Albany/Schenectady (and you should not bypass Dinosaur).
              Alternatively, you could hit the Dinosaur in Rochester, and be ready when you reach Karavalli.

              1 Reply
              1. re: NYchowcook

                You could go for the triple play and hit the Dinosaur in Syracuse, Rochester, and Harlem ! Now that is a true HOUND !

              2. Without reservations your not going to experience much at the CIA other than the Apple Pie Bakery unless your friend is currently in a restaurant block, there he or she might be able to talk the Chef into slipping you in.

                One tip for you is this, Caterina De Medici has 5 walk in tables in the Al Forno section, if your there by 11:30 AM your almost garunteed a table any day. You'll have the dining room menu only, Al Forno doesn't open until 1:00 pm if i remember correctly.

                If Ralph is bartending, walk up and order your first drink, give him a nice tip and he'll give you a nice pour!

                Students do get to keep or split tips in these venues so don't forget them as well!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Roadfoodfan

                  I'll ask my friend to book it early. He told me that both American Bounty and Escoffier are offering $20/30 pre-fixe menu for lunch/dinner. Can't wait!

                2. I had to check my road atlas to make sure, but, 87 and 90 is aka the New York Thruway, a great big right angle of a route. Seems to me, if I was making the trip, I'd take the more diagonal route of Route 17 through the Finger Lakes, and then I-380 to the Thruway near Rochester. Easier on/off (no tolls), and more interesting road/smaller, easier to navigate towns along the route. Alternately, if you're tied to the "right angle" to hit Albany, Syracuse, Utica, etc., I'd still consider using the parellel Taconic State Parkway "up" and maybe even US Route 20 "over" (taking smaller highways up to the cities)- you'll see a lot more "real" stuff.

                  (I am assuming that a "road trip" means a meandering journey, rather than a "get there as quick as we can" 80mph superhighway commute.)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JessKidden

                    Thanx for the great suggestion, Jess. I'm still debating if i should take local highways or try to get to Hyde Park as early as possible. I only have about 4 days and I do want to maximize my time in NYC. 80mph, i was thinking at least 90, hahahahaha

                  2. I grew up in Toronto and still own rental property there. I now live in Albany, NY. I make the Albany-TO trip regularly, at one point almost every week. I miss the Rochester ferry! Anyway, I have some idea of where you're coming from.

                    The CIA is a great stop. Not off the thruway, but worth it. Sounds like you are headed that way anyway. Friend or not (a friend's daughter runs the Italian restaurant) - make sure you have RESERVATIONS if planning to eat at one of the fancy restaurants. If you were travelling in the summer, the Mohonk Mountain House is a good stop as well.

                    There is nothing in Buffalo worth stopping for. All the good stuff is on the Canuck side.

                    Near Syracuse is an area called Skaneateles (www.skaneateles.com). This is an absolute gem and worth the drive off the thruway. You can't believe this gem exists in the middle of the state. One of the cleanest 3 lakes in the country. But in early March many of the places might be closed. Dinosaur Pub in downtown Syracuse has great BBQ food and frequented by famous people, but is a dump (but that hasn't stopped me from eating there everytime I'm in Syracuse). Be prepared for a 2-hour wait if you don't arrive early. Syracuse is not exactly just off the thurway either.

                    Albany: I wouldn't bother with Bella Napoli, which is actually just up the road from me. I'm a regular customer, but it really doesn't offer anything special for someone from Toronto. My fellow Albanians who have posted about Bella Napoli (which is very good) and Karavalli (also good, but more of a fastfoody buffet type place), maybe don't realize that Toronto has the largest Italian population outside of Milan, and has no shortage overall of GREAT ethnic restaurants. Le Marche (Movenpick) in Toronto is WAY better than anything Bella Napoli could possible offer. Bella is also not in your way, since you'd have to head North on I-87 where you should be heading south. The only unique place in Albany worth stopping for would be Yono's for dinner (downtown Albany), a unique Indonesian resto with a famous chef (www.yonos.com). Some Albanians might like McGuire's, Prime (both mostly steakhouses), but Toronto has more than their fare share of steakhouses. Toronto doesn't have an indonesian resto like Yono's though. Downtown Albany isn't that far out of your way, and you could check out the state buildings which will remind you of Nathan Philips square in toronto (e.g. outdoor ice skating in the winter).

                    I travel quite a bit driving; I see you mentioned mapquest below. Imho google maps is far more accurate. BOTH though fail when it comes to the nutty streets of NYC and the NJ side across the hudson. If you need guidance in those places, consider purchasing Microsoft Streets&Trips. It's the cats meow, the bee's knees, of US maps. It's the best $50 anyone will ever spend if they do any driving in the US. It shows a lot more than just roads - construction, restaurants, hotels, parks, etc.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: salvador

                      I mostly agree with Salvador, but I have to take exception to his characterization of Karavalli as "more of a fastfoody buffet type place." Karavalli has a buffet, but it also has a deeply-detailed menu covering an extraordinary range of south-Indian chow, including a couple of dishes that are specialties of the Jewish community of Calcutta. If you're hankering for Indian food between Toronto and Albany, the Latham branch of Karavalli is your stop.

                      9 Johnson Rd, Latham, NY 12110

                      1. re: salvador

                        Salvador, when was the last time you were in Buffalo? What did you think of Europa? Or Rue Franklin? Or Saigon Café? Or Betty's? Or Viking Lobster? Or Trattoria Aroma? Or Kuni's? Or Gigi's? Or the Niagara Café? Or Sinatra's?

                        I'm curious because you must have an opinion of each if you say there is nothing in Buffalo worth stopping for.

                      2. The Old Erie Restaurant is 2 minutes South of Thruway Exit 40 in Weedsport. Great crab cakes (comparable to ones I've enjoyed in Maryland & Virginia), fried chicken, and excellent desserts including the best coconut cream pie.