The larger cities offer a full range of dining options, from trendy restaurants to ethnic eateries. Ithaca and Rochester, in particular, are havens for vegetarian and ethnic fare. Some restaurants outside the urban areas are increasingly emphasizing fresh, local, and organic cuisine. Regional wines often show up on menus. (The region's Rieslings, which have garnered high praise, are perfect summer and early-fall sips.) But American restaurants, diners, family-style spots, and pizza parlors are still the norm; steaks, chops, and prime rib are standards, as are Italian-American dishes. For the full Finger Lakes experience, be sure to visit pick-your-own orchards, farmers' markets, and wine-tasting rooms. The Web site of Edible Finger Lakes magazine (www.ediblefingerlakes.com) is a good resource, as are tourism boards and wine-trail organizations.
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Tapas 177177 St. Paul St. 585-262–2090
Tanino Ristorante1–3 Ithaca Rd. 607-739–7013
Spanish-style appetizers and entrées draw from Latin and European roots, as does the music and decor, at this below-street-level restaurant. The decor, with candlelight, brick arches, and curtained-off cubbyhole seating is Morocco-meets-Paris, and the menu, which changes weekly, highlights seafood, with options for vegetarians well as carnivores. You might choose from chicken empanadas or Thai-glazed barbecued ribs (on the tapas menu) or wasabi-pea-encrusted tuna or guava-chipotle beef fillet (among the main dishes). A full martini menu includes chocolate, melon, lemon, and orange varieties. The specialty dessert—bananas wrapped in a fried, cinnamon-and-sugar-covered tortilla—is always available.
Worth the 6-mi drive north of town, family-owned and -operated Tanino's, as it's called, serves more-authentic Italian than is usually found in this area: meals start with bread and olive oil rather than bread and pats of butter, and the wine list is one of the region's lengthiest. Ignore the strip-mall exterior and head into the casual, comfortable dining room with a fireplace. The large menu includes about a dozen choices each of pasta (cheese ravioli, penne alla vodka), seafood, poultry, veal, and beef entrées, plus popular brick-oven pizzas.
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