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Rochester Italian

Growing up in Rochester, our standard for old-school red-sauce Italian was the Northside Inn in East Rochester. Still good today (assuming it actually was good back then)? Where else is great for old-school Italian?

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  1. I'm not such a fan of red sauce places, and find the Northside Inn overpriced and boring. But a friend's father maintains that the quallity of the food at a red sauce place is inversely proportional to its "ambience." A perfect example is Trattoria D'Abruzzo, 1770 E. Ridge Road. The dining room looks more like a dining hall. But the food is consistently great. And moderately priced. But get there early. We arrived once at about 10 minutes to 9:00 p.m. and were told the kitchen was closed. Our pleading with the owner was to no avail.

    1. My in-laws used to swear by Mr. Dominick's (which definitely follow's tuttobene's friend's algorithm of quality of red sauce food vs. ambiance) but they say it's gone downhill.

      1. I think the best Italian in town is Proietti's in Webster. Everything is homemade, the atmosphere is mellow and service is consistently perfect.


        1. We ended up trying Dentico's, at the corner of Culver and Norton. While the greens, beans, and sausage appetizer was very good, we were disappointed with both pastas we tried. Linguine with white clam was swimming in a pool of thin sauce, which diluted the clam flavor, and puttanesca was made with onions, artichokes, and olives, with no apparent capers or anchovies. Not sure what puttanesca is if it doesn't have capers or anchovies. In both dishes, the pasta was cooked beyond the al dente phase.

          Next time, Trattoria D'Abruzzo.

          1 Reply
          1. re: david kaplan

            While you're at it, here are two more excellent choices (a little more expensive):



          2. I know this is a little late, but my favorite old school Italian is Red Fedele's Brook House out on Ridge Rd. West, past Greece Ridge Mall. The gnocci there is my absolute favorite, even better than my Aunt Annie's (don't tell her I said that). I think the red sauce is awesome, BUT I'm picky about my sauce and like a really basic smooth one. I also love their calamari and the meatballs. My family all agrees with me, and we're a big Italian Catholic family. They ask to go there every time they are in town.

            1. Reviving this post to ask if there are any updates on the restaurants mentioned before (Proietti's, Trattoria D'Abruzzo, etc.) or any new ones. It's time for my annual Rochester trip and, as always, I'm craving old-school Italian.

              2 Replies
              1. re: david kaplan

                I still swear by Proietti's. Their chicken marsala is to die for.

                1. re: david kaplan

                  Trattoria D'Abruzzo has changed ownership and the quality of the food has definitely suffered. I can no longer recommend it.

                2. http://www.proiettis.com/ or Guida's Pasta Villa on Ridge Rd in Irondequoit.
                  I also like La Bella Vita on Empire in Webster.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kimeats

                    Kimeats - How are the pizzas at La Bella Vita? We haven't been there yet.

                    1. re: CindyK

                      Fantastic! I've tried them all that are on the regular menu and some of the "specials" that come around. I really like the basil pesto pizza and my companions have loved the pepperoni pizza.

                  2. A very happy report back from dinner at Proietti's. Pretty much everything was just right: the delicate batter on the fried calamari, the balance of ingredients and flavors in the veal saltimbocca, and the strong dried-herb flavoring of the marinara sauce.

                    Best of all was the arrabiatta sauce, which I tried over penne but also was offered with steamed calamari. It was made with both dried pepper flakes and a healthy dose of fresh minced red jalapenos, which meant the sauce was chunky and full of vegetal pepper flavor. It was quite spicy and substantial and one of the best things I've tasted in a long time. Both penne arrabiatta and steamed calamari arrabiatta were listed on the specials menu; I don't know how often they have them available.

                    Lovely staff and efficient service, too.

                    Apparently they are opening a party room next door and will also return to having a full bar.

                    1 Reply