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The Pascale family is well known to Syracuse’s culinary scene, and I have to guess that the members of Drumlins Country Club were pretty darn excited when the family took over their restaurant and established Pascale Italian Bistro earlier this year. Judging by the crowds of members and neighbors enjoying themselves when we stopped in on a Friday night, I know I was right.
These very hands-on restaurateurs (we met Deb, Neal, Chuck and Nick as they mingled with their patrons/friends) sought to establish a neighborhood spot that presents something identifiably Italian (Sunday gravy) and something different (pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sauce). The menu is about to change for fall, so expect to see those classic but contemporary cold weather comfort foods like osso bucco, braised lamb shanks in a red wine and rosemary sauce and pot roast.
We tried the chicken Gabrielle; a cutlet sautéed with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts with a creamy brandy sauce topped with sharp provolone. The Sunday gravy, which never leaves the menu, is served over rigatoni and explodes the long-and-slow cooking flavors that comes with braising pork and sausage and San Marzano tomatoes.
Pasta dishes coming to the fall menu include albacore tuna with roasted garlic served over capellini and linguini Fra Diavlo, with clams, mussels, calamari and shrimp. If you get a chance to try the “mini” risotto balls — creamy, cheesy, crispy-fried — be warned that they are anything but “mini.”
Once the menu changes over, a risotto of the day will be offered as an appetizer, instead. Significant attention to detail is present in everything they do, and as our server Niki Anthis pointed out, the bread is brought over from Pascale’s Bakehouse twice a day.
Since coming to Syracuse 10 years ago and working in Utica, I discovered and fell in love with Utica greens but have yet to be able to recreate them in my own kitchen, much to my consternation. Executive chef Michel DiGiorgio to the rescue, and following his advice (that I am not sharing), I am hopeful to get it right at home. In the meantime, you should check out their rendition — done exactly right and still right the next day, when I reheated the leftovers for lunch.
I am also going to pass on the recommendation that you also try “The Culprit,” a red wine blend. With blends being all the rage in California, this is predominantly Pinot Noir but includes Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and totals 12 varietals in all to give it plenty of complexity. This is a big, bold and intense wine! The Monday special is half price on all bottles of wine, so your opportunity awaits. On Tuesdays, all pasta dishes are only $10.
800 Nottingham Road, Syracuse 13224
Monday through Saturday: lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday: lunch 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pub is open the entire time.
Happy Hour: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with drink and appetizer specials
Favorite: I found my Utica greens in Syracuse! Not runny, no silly potatoes or other adulterations, savory and sharp.