Wegmans: Rochester’s beloved supermarket chain.
You all may not know that Wegmans has its own chain of brand restaurants. After I discovered this tidbit, I began my hungry quest to try every single Wegmans restaurants I could find. I had a craving that only Wegmans brand food could satisfy.
First up was Amore, Wegmans’ Italian restaurant — a far classier establishment than I’d expected. CT Eats sidekick Ryan and I sat at the bar area for happy hour, when dishes are available at discounted prices. Our fried calamari appetizer was enough to feed multiple people, all for $6. Plus, that calamari was superb. It had a light, airy fry that wasn’t too oily, a dreamily tender and melty inside, and a spot-on salt level.
My entree was the ziti alla montanara, which featured luscious butternut squash and a sumptuous porcini and parmesan cream sauce. This dish had a stellar balance of salty, cheesy, earthy, and sweet flavors. Ryan’s choice was the casarecce alla vongole rapini: pasta with clams in a garlic white wine sauce. Though a bit salty, everything was cooked well, making another satisfying dish.
Restaurant numero dos was The Pub by Wegmans. It was far plainer, but still dished up winners. The menu was a mix of everything from seafood, sandwiches, burgers, to pastas and more. Our appetizer was the fried oysters with a thick, crispy batter on the outside, a soft inside, and some heat that garnered high marks from yours truly.
Lunch for me was the chilled lobster roll — a favorite of mine — and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was shocked by how high-class this was. The lobster was cooked well, with just the right amount of sauce, and the buttery roll was toasted to perfection. Ryan tested a pub classic: fish and chips. The fried coating was a bit bland and oily but had an airy texture. Also, the French fries here are addictive, just FYI.
Next was the Burger Bar by Wegmans, which was disappointing, especially after the previous two. This establishment erred on the side of fast food. I decided to go big with the maple onion bacon burger, which ended up meh. The maple onion jam had nice flavor and the bacon had a good thick cut, but the toppings were sparse. Additionally, the patty was under-seasoned, and the spicy sauce clashed with every other flavor. Ryan’s mushroom burger was also meh. The flavor from the mushrooms and brie was decent, but completely bland. But, Wegmans pulled through with quality fries once again.
Our final stop was Next Door Bar and Grill — a successful attempt at redemption. The menu is impressive, featuring exotic flavors and fairly technical dishes. The risotto featured uni (sea urchin) butter, and although the seafood was under-seasoned, we were happy campers. More impressive was the braised pork belly. Though I didn’t love the sauce or cornbread crumble on the plate, the pork was juicy and tender. Its crispy sear was luxurious. Our favorite of the day — and the best mac I’ve tasted in all of Rochester — was the truffle mac n cheese. Extremely creamy sauce, strong truffle flavor, and mounds of crispy baked bread crumbs to top it all — this mac made my heart happy.
The overall favorite from the world of Wegmans was Amore. I probably won’t return to the Burger Bar, but the Pub was wonderful and Next Door’s menu still intrigues me (the desserts sounded phenomenal).
All in all, we were both pleasantly surprised by what Wegmans had to offer.