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Ithaca and restaurant by the road

Hi, will be going from NYC to Niagara falls in May with my wife and was hoping for some help with restaurant suggestions. We will be leaving from Newark as it seems to be the best location to pick up a rental car if you want to avoid driving in Manhattan. We expect to leave Newark somewhere between 10 and 11 on Sunday May 4th and need a place for lunch along the way. From looking at a map somewhere between Scranton and Binghamton seems ideal, is there any decent place for lunch in that area? Does not have to be fine dining by any means, a diner will do fine just as long as food is good.
On the way back we will spend Monday night, the 5th of May in Ithaca and I've been reading a little bit on older discussions on what seems to have been the top suggestions and came up with Moosewood, Just a Taste, Crooked Rooster and Hazelnut Kitchen as the most interesting alternatives. However most threads are quite old. Are these still good places? If so which one would you suggest if you only have one dinner on a Monday night? If these places are no longer up to standard or new and better have opened where should we go? We are open to any type of cuisine, but the ingredients should preferably be local. Also, as we are in the wine business, a good beverage list is a bonus, though not a must. I appreciate any feedback you might have.

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  1. You might consider Dano's on the east side of Seneca Lake.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Old Red

      Seems very nice and in line with what we tend to appreciate, but I guess we have to start a little earlier than 10 from Newark if we are to make it there for lunch or were you thinking of it as an alternative to dinner in Ithaca?

    2. I like Antlers in Ithaca! Great food with excellent selections.



      5 Replies
      1. re: Fred19

        Thanks, looks like a good alternative.

        1. re: Fred19

          We love this place after football games.
          The only problem is that they open at 5pm and the games usually get out earlier.
          The menu is great, the portions large, and the prices reasonable and the player piano makes it all happen well.

          1. re: jackiew

            Thanks, sounds very nice. Will be there on a Monday evening, is that game night (not from US)?

          2. re: Fred19

            If there anyplace in Ithaca that uses fresh high quality local ingredients somewhat creatively??? I'm going to Ithaca next weekend for 3 days and need something other than Hazelnut Kitchen. I've heard that Banfi is just not that good.

          3. We did a similar trip last year and I did a quick write-up. For the one dinner recommendation in Ithaca, I'd recommend Moosewood on principle, but Just a Taste had a better set-up for tasting different wines:


            And if you make it up to Niagara-on-the-Lake during your trip north, I recommend checking out Stone Road Grille and Greaves Jams and Jellies!

            1 Reply
            1. re: rovingfoodie

              Great summary, will be very helpful. Will be staying at Niagara Falls, but might have a lunch at Niagara-on-the-lake.

            2. Savory Maza in Scranton for authentic and fabulous Middle Eastern food. It's our favorite stop on the yearly trip to Syracuse.
              We've tried Moosewood, excellent, but I am not a vegetarian enthusiast.
              Not for nuthin' but you might want to fly into Buffalo. There are usually some good fares on Jet Blue.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Motosport

                Savory Maza is definitely an option. Buffalo not I'm afraid. Flying to New York from Stockholm and tickets already booked, will spend most of the trip in NYC, but been there quite a few times so I wanted to add a little to the experience, hence the road trip.

                1. re: JosefK

                  I think you might want to reconsider your "road trip." If you're staying in NYC, upstate NY is really not the gustatory grail you seem to be seeking. Perhaps the outer boroughs would be more satisfying, or the lower Hudson Valley.

                  1. re: mrsdebdav

                    I think Niagara Falls is their destination.

                    1. re: Motosport

                      Motosport - you are correct. This road trip is just to see the falls. We will also spend seven nights in NYC so plenty of gastronomic experiences there. Just hoping to make the best food-wise out of the side trip as well.

                      1. re: JosefK

                        If you go thru Buffalo there are several decent restaurants. Anchor Bar is the so called inventor of the "Buffalo" chicken wing. Do not get the hottest wings!! I could not eat them.

              2. We made a few trips up to Ithaca during the summer and were recommended to Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton. For timing reasons we never made it there, but it looked good online.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DGresh

                  Thanks, I looked it up and seems very nice. Also appreciate the idea that it's run by four women, all ex musicians. However it seems to be closed on Sundays, which is the day it would have suited us...

                2. Cortese in Binghamton is a personal favorite.

                  Depending on when you will be on the road, you should absolutely stop at a place called Fuddy Duddy's in Owego. It is a small-town candy store/bakery unlike anything I have ever seen. Not dinner, but certainly dessert. You will pass it on your way to Ithaca.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: redips

                    Thank you redlips. Fuddy Duddy's certainly looks unlike anything we would find in Sweden so hope to be able to check it out and Cortese is another contender for lunch.

                    1. re: JosefK

                      I'd skip Binghamton (my hometown), and especially Cortese, as a food stop and head to Ithaca. And there are a lot more interesting places in Ithaca than Moosewood, which has seen better days.

                      1. re: jmoryl

                        We used to stop at a place in Binghampton for Spiedes which is peculiar to this part of NY State. I can't remember the name of the place. Any suggestions?

                        1. re: Motosport

                          You might be thinking of Sharkey's on Glenwood Ave? One of the last dive bars on what used to be the First Ward/Clinton St. run. Again, I wouldn't go out of my way to get a Spiedie, but would eat some if I was in the First Ward.

                          1. re: Motosport

                            There is still a Lupo's char pit in Endicott that would be worth the stop. Sam Lupo is the originator of the speedie, and I still find his to be best.

                            1. re: redips

                              It was Lupo's!!! When my wife lived in "SmAlbany" she was friendly with one of the Lupo daughters.

                              1. re: Motosport

                                Indeed! Such a great place.

                                Since moving from the Binghamton area over a decade ago, I have noticed that I am one of the few former Binghamton area residents to maintain a positive sentiment towards the area...which is truly a shame. It may be old and small, but the foundation of the city has more history and heritage than anywhere else in the state. To see people like the poster above explicitly direct people away from a great lunch place such as Cortese, without offering a constructive alternative, I can't help but become a bit bothered. Especially when timing of the trip lends itself to lunch in the Binghamton area...

                                1. re: redips

                                  I still spend a fair amount of time in the Binghamton area and eat out while I am there. Cortese, Little Venice, etc. are pretty blah, sorry. Not places I would recommend for a traveller to get off the highway to find. To be more constructive, I like to eat at Man Nam Korean on the Vestal Parkway, the Turkish Restaurant on Main St. in JC, the Thai restaurant at the end of Washington Ave. in Endicott (can't recall the name).

                                  Oh, and the Belmar on Main St. in Binghamton does a mean burger, has cheap micro drafts and a great jukebox.

                                  1. re: jmoryl

                                    I can live with that. Great suggestions and all fairly accessible from 17.

                                    I definitely agree on Little Venice, but we'll have to agree to disagree on Cortese ;). I make an effort for a few slices of Cortese pizza and a steak sandwich.

                    2. There are a lot of restaurants on N. Aurora St. by Ithaca Commons and a few small places within the Commons (nice walk, lots of shops). I dropped one of my cousins off to school in Ithaca at the end of August. Unfortunately I literally didn't pay any attention to which restaurant we went to for lunch so I can't even recommend it. I just know it was on N. Aurora and only noticed after we were done that there were tons f restaurants on both sides of the street.

                      I drove through Binghamton also but I didn't stop anywhere. It is one scenic drive though going through the center of the valley! Really, try to take videos while you're driving, it is beyond beautiful!

                      Since you are in the wine industry, the Finger Lakes area is considered NY State's wine region, in case you were unaware :). I'm slightly allergic to wine. :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mushroomaffairs

                        Thanks, will make sure to capture the scenery and have my share of the local wines, especially the Rieslings of the region.