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Utica greens were not originally chef-prepared restaurant fare. This Italian-American dish, which features garden-grown escarole and pantry staples, such as pickled cherry peppers, Romano cheese, prosciutto, and breadcrumbs, has humble roots.
Beginning in the late 1800s, Utica became home to a thriving community of southern-Italian immigrants, and greens were served at the dinner table of many of these families. The dish was the creation of frugal home cooks who were making do with what they had on hand.
In the 1980s, local chef Joe Morelle included the dish on his restaurant menu as Greens Morelle. It became a hit, and other restaurants adapted and renamed it Utica Greens.
Variations include greens with potatoes, kale, Swiss chard, and pignoli (or pine) nuts. Some restaurants also add spicy peppers to the mix.
Where to try it: You can still find the classic Greens Morelle at Chesterfield’s Tavolo, located in Utica. Other options are Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, Babe’s at Harbor Point, and Aqua Vino Restaurant, which has an outdoor patio overlooking the Erie Canal.
Top photo by CC Flickr/Buffaboy: bit.ly/3bNYdbn
Support for Courier articles provided by:
Amelia Island Tourism Development Council
Campbell County Convention & Visitors Bureau
City of Gallup
Maryland Office of Tourism Development
Oneida County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau
Tourist Office for Flanders-Belgium