New Rochester NY restaurants and bars to visit during the holidays
Here are 14 options, in no particular order:
260E. Broad Street, Rochester; (585) 413-1714; unwinedroc.com: Jim Muir and Paula Miceli were vacationing in the Cayman Islands in 2019 when they found a wine bar with a system that allowed guests to help themselves. The couple brought the concept to Rochester, opening cozy wine bar Unwine’d in a new, modern five-story building adjacent to South Clinton Avenue downtown. His system offers 40 wines, available for purchase in 2-, 4- or 6-ounce increments. A nearby retail store sells wine by the bottle as well as some local spirits. Food selection is limited – artichoke dip, make your own cheese boards and grilled meats. If you’re hungry for dinner, Branca Midtown is right across the courtyard.
Umai Rotor Sushi
2833 Monroe Street, Brighton; (585) 448-0051; umairoc.com: There are more than two dozen sushi restaurants in and around Rochester. But the restaurant, which opened late last year in Brighton, offers something different: sushi delivered to your table via conveyor belt. And it’s not just sushi, but also sashimi, tempura, teriyaki and other Asian dishes. At Umai Revolving Sushi, owned by longtime friends Sean Zeng and Phil Nguyen, small plates of food covered in clear plastic lids spin continuously on a low track. People can get whatever looks good to them and is charged by the board. The top lane delivers made-to-order dishes directly from the kitchen to customers who place their orders on iPads at each table. “For me, I like to introduce new concepts,” Zeng said. “I think, for the city of Rochester, we need a concept like this.”
45 Public Market, Rochester; (585) 504-4617; public-provisions.com. If you’ve visited the Rochester Public Market, you’ve probably stood in line for the amazing breads and croissants at Flour City Bread Company. Over the summer, bakery owner Keith Myers, along with chef Cassidy Broman, opened Public Provisions at the Rochester Public Market. It has a café by day and an intimate, Spanish-inspired restaurant by night. (Get the calamari.) The bakery will eventually move into the public provisions space and there’s talk of a rooftop patio next year.
The country house
1586 E. Main Street, Rochester; (585) 270-4448; Facebook. With Rochester’s large Puerto Rican population, there are more and more destinations for great Puerto Rican food. A newcomer worth a visit is Casa Campo. At lunchtime, it’s the destination for a steady stream of customers, who grab a quick lunch from the hot bar with many traditional Puerto Rican dishes: arroz con gandol, pernelle, baked chicken, bacalao, boiled plantains, empanadilla and more. But you can also order from an à la carte menu of attractive dishes including a wide range of seafood. Its bar specializes in tropical drinks.
Black button distillery
1344 University Avenue, Rochester; (585) 730-4512; blackbuttondistilling.com. In 2013, when Black Button Distilling became the first craft distillery to open in Monroe County since Prohibition, it totaled 5,000 square feet. This year, it opened a new 28,000-square-foot location, more than four times the size of its original space on Railroad Avenue. It serves its own spirits (try its best-selling Cream of Bourbon) as well as beer, cider and wine from local producers. It also offers a mix of spirits and cocktail classics. Food service is limited to Sunday; Dining destinations within walking distance are Mullers Cider House, The Revelry and Tony D’s.
440 Dr. Al-Mridge Center in Greece; (585) 563-6007; cotolettaroc.com. If you’ve lived in Rochester for the past 14 years or so, you’ve probably visited the popular Tony D’s (speaking of which, it moved to a larger space this year and is as mobile as ever). This year, Chef/Owner Jay Speranza opened a new Italian-American concept in Greece. Called cotoletta — the Italian word for “cutlet” — the menu highlights unwieldy sandwiches built around large chicken cutlets as well as thick, square pizzas. There is also a full bar. The atmosphere is casual, loud and fun.
Halal n out
740 East Ridge Road, Irondequoit; (407) 664-3851; halalnoutroc.com. Iconic New York City dishes are the highlight of Halal N Out, a fast-casual restaurant in Irondequoit’s Ridge Hudson Plaza. It is the fourth location for the New York City-based chain. Among its best sellers: chopped cheese, which originated in New York City delis, and halal cart-style chicken over rice, with a tangy white sauce from owner Naz Mines’ grandmother. The food is served in a fast casual style, so you can add vegetables and toppings to your heart’s content.
BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery
760 Jefferson Road, Henrietta; (585) 537-1444; bjsrestaurants.com: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, based in Huntington Beach, Calif., opened its first restaurant in Western New York in September in Henrietta in a new building where Romano’s Macaroni Grill once stood. With more than 100 items ranging from prime rib to chicken wings, the menu takes a one-size-fits-all approach. BJ’s has its own line of craft beers available, hence the Brewhouse being part of the name. The restaurant’s signature dessert is the Pizooki, a large oven-baked cake served warm and topped with ice cream.
647 South Ave., Rochester: From prolific local restaurateur Chuck Cerankowski, who is also the founder and director of Rochester Cocktail Revival, comes Martine. The bar opened in October in the two-storey space previously occupied by Solera Wine Bar & Lounge and pub-style Cheshire cocktail spot, but Martine has a very different vibe to its predecessors. Inspired by everything from vintage advertisements to international travel, many of the dark wall colors were painted green, and a mix of light wood, rattan and industrial accents were added. But what makes Martine’s truly unusual is its bar program, which features mixed drinks served on tap. Also on the menu: a variety of snack foods and DJ music.
Rising Storm Brewing Company
1880 Blossom Road; (585) 310-7105; risestormbrewing.com. Rising Storm Brewing Company has opened on the site of the historic Daisy Mill in Pennfield. The historic restaurant in Ellison Park was a restaurant from the early 1980s until it closed in 2004, but has closed in recent years. The Livingston County-based brewery converted an approximately 6,000-square-foot space into a new dining room with two levels of seating. The former dance hall has been converted into a state-of-the-art brewery. Most days you’ll find deep-fried pizza, gourmet sandwiches, and casual foods. Be sure to get the OG sweet and salty cookie.
He says the opposite
280E. Broad Street (Tower 280), Rochester; diceversagames.com: Dice Versa board game lounge opened Nov. 18 on the ground floor of Tower280 downtown in the former Original Grain location. The café is filled with hundreds of board games, from classics like Monopoly to newer ones like Junk Art. For a $10 fee, guests can play as many times as they want. (There is a three-hour play limit on Fridays and Saturdays.) Dice Versa also has a menu of shareable appetizers and small plates. As of this writing, it is awaiting a liquor license and only sells non-alcoholic beverages, but once licensed will offer a full bar. Unlike games played on screens, with board games, “you can talk while you play,” said owner Riley Dethier, an Irondequoit native and Rochester resident. “You have to have friendly banter and be with your friends. For example, personally, I can spend hours playing board games with friends.
Old favorites come back
Pizza Pie and Goodman
1687 Mount Hope Street, Rochester; (585) 442-6865; baygoodman.com: In March 2022, when Larry Piccarito closed his longtime family business, Bay & Goodman Pizza, at 690 N. Winton Road, he thought it was for good. But within a few months, feelings of remorse began to creep in, not only for Piccareto, but also for his two sons, Matthew and Nicholas, who grew up in the field. So, in September, after remodeling the old Pontillo restaurant in Mount Hope Plaza, Bay & Goodman reopened, this time with Matthew at the helm. In addition to their signature style of pizza — not too thin, not too thick and a little on the spicy side of pepperoni — they serve the pies with a hot honey drizzle.
Frog pond in the garden
652 Park Ave, Rochester; (585) 417-6172: In existence since 1975, breakfast, brunch and brunch spot The Frog Pond (originally Charlie’s Frog Pond) closed in September 2022 after owner Kevin Crego decided to sell. Last June, it reopened as The Frog Pond on Park under the leadership of Rene and David Spallina, the establishment’s fourth owner. As in the past, the menu focuses on classic dinner dishes — eggs, omelettes, pancakes, waffles and the like. But Chef Michael Gangemi has upgraded some of the offerings. “He likes to shake things up a little bit,” Rene said.
Pizza and pasta made from Veneto wood
318 East Street, Rochester; (585) 454-5444; venetorestaurant.com: An East End dining destination since 2001, Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta was forced to temporarily close after an electrical fire in January. It took nine months, but the completely redesigned restaurant began welcoming guests again in October. Almost everything in the place, from floor to ceiling, is new. The menu of Italian favorites is largely the same, but it’s gotten a few tweaks in the form of new specialty drinks, desserts and appetizers. For example, Clams Casino is now a permanent offer. Unlike the past, Veneto is open seven days a week. A new patio area has been added in the back, but it won’t be ready as a dining space until next year, owner Don Swartz said.
Reporter Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwood. Tracy Schumacher covers food and drink. Follow her on Instagram as @rahchachow. This story also includes reporting by Victoria Freeley.