Figs on pizza? Oh, yeah! The Versace pizza.
It has been a busy year for Syracuse Chef Kevin Gentile.
Last fall, he diversified his “eclectic Italian’’ brand with the addition of Gentile’s Pasta and Pizza Cafe in Liverpool (Route 370, corner of Longbranch Road; site of the former Zorba’s Pizzeria). And this spring, he moved his Syracuse restaurant across town – from its small spot on Burnet Avenue to bigger digs at 313 N. Geddes St., once home to the Park Circle and other restaurants.
Starved after a steamy Saturday afternoon spent strolling through the Great American AntiqueFest at Long Branch Park last month, we stopped at Gentile’s Pasta and Pizza Cafe for a bite before heading home.
THE VIBE: Casual, comfortable and family friendly, with an open prep area and kitchen and easy to read menu boards on he walls. It’s a quick-bite neighborhood restaurant, but cloth napkins on the tables let you know they take food and dining seriously.
THE MENU: Gourmet pizzas, pastas, salads, sandwiches and starters. The restaurant also features a $9.95 lunch buffet with pasta, pizza and dessert.
CHOWING DOWN: We love Utica Greens, so sharing a plate of Greens Gentile was a no-brainer. Amidst the escarole, we found broccoli – surprise! – along with prosciutto and plenty of garlic. The greens retained some of their integrity – they weren’t cooked to death, in other words. We would have liked them a little less wet and cut in more uniformly bite-size pieces.
From the list of “designer” pizzas with names like Armani, Fendi and Gucci, we chose the Versace ($12), a thin-crust pie topped with prosciutto, figs, arugula and goat cheese and drizzled with truffle oil. The combination of the sweet figs, salty prosciutto and slightly peppery arugula is a wonderful marriage of flavors and the goat cheese gave the pizza interesting texture without overwhelming the flavors of the other ingredients. We left with a couple slices in a take-out container, and it was just as delicious a couple days later.
WHAT’S A VEGETARIAN GOING TO FIND? Design-your-own pizzas with a variety of interesting toppings, including sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, pesto, artichoke hearts; pasta specialties like gnocchi tossed with spinach, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms & pistachio pesto cream sauce; sandwiches like grilled zucchini, squash, roasted peppers, tomatoes and basil with a avocado aioli; and interesting salads, like a spinach salad with pine nuts, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, capers, dried cranberries; orange vinaigrette dressing and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese ($7.95).
DESSERT: A selection of gourmet cupcakes baked for the restaurant was offered, but we were too full to indulge.
LIQUID ASSETS: The cafe has a small beer and wine list, in addition to soft drinks, bottled water, etc.
DAMAGES: $40, including tax and tip, for one shared order of greens and one shared pizza, plus 3 beers.
NEXT TIME: Maybe we’ll share an order of char-grilled sambuca orange wings or “Banged Up’’ shrimp and the Gucci pizza (topped with steak, caramelized onions, basil, spinach, gorgonzola cheese and balsamic reduction). Yum.
THE DETAILS: 1349 Cold Springs Road (Route 370), Liverpool. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Information: 315-457-3333.