Located on East Avenue, down the street from the Eastman Theatre, Stromboli Express is home to a hidden delicacy of downtown Rochester. With a modest storefront that does not remotely speak to the quality of food within, one would likely walk right past the place and think nothing of it just another one of those restaurants with a generic ‘Pizzeria” awning over the entryway.

Luckily, I had heard of the restaurant from a friend and knew in advance that there was more than meets the eye. I decided to give it a chance.

Stromboli Express really feels like a ‘hole-in-the-wall,” with a couple of small round tables and one booth comprising the entirety of the restaurant’s seating. While it’s the kind of place where you could sit and eat, I imagine a majority of people would find it more suited to take out which is what my friends and I planned on doing when we ordered in advance over the phone using the restaurant’s online menu as our guide to the offerings.
When you look at the menu, it’s actually really impressive how much food they have available. My three friends and I went straight for the strombolis because it’s in the title and they have a good reputation. However, the restaurant offers a variety of other foods, including pizzas, hot and cold subs, calzones, salads, sandwiches, wings and some pasta dishes too. In other words, if you’re not into strombolis, chances are you can definitely find something to eat here.

The stromboli section of the menu alone has 26 different options, which I found totally shocking. Naturally, some of the options are to be expected as far as take-out Italian restaurants go, such as chicken Parmesan, mushroom and pepperoni. However, some of the other options are more daring, such as the ‘Seafood Stromboli,” which includes crab meat, popcorn shrimp and mozzarella cheese inside most definitely not one for the faint of heart (or faint of stomach).

Between the four of us, we opted for a combination of the expected and a little more unexpected. We had four different ‘bolies,” listed below in order of increasing extravagance.
1. ‘Pepperoni Boli” with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.
2. ‘Chicken Pepperoni Boli” with chicken, pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato sauce.
3. ‘Original Boli” with ham, salami, cappicola, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.
4. ‘Mexican Boli” with taco meat, tomatoes, onions, black olives, mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

Each one was stuffed full of ingredients that made every bite great.
The strombolis come in three different sizes, a ‘mini” at 3-by-8 inches, a ‘small” at 5-by-10 inches and a medium at 5-by-20 inches. Price-wise, they are $5.50, $9 and $13.50 and are supposed to serve one, two, and four people, respectively. The four of us ordered ‘smalls,” which were definitely not small because they could have easily fed one person who is really hungry and can serve two people who are moderately hungry. The four of us ate about three-quarters of our strombolis and had the rest as leftovers.

That brings me to this week’s Best Bang For Your Buck, which is any one of the ‘small” strombolis because you can get a ton of different toppings inside them for a decent price with enough to have more later on.

While I can’t speak on any of the other foods with respect to how filling they are (since I didn’t try them), the subs also seem like a good deal, with a 9-inch for $6 and a 12-inch for $7.50. The point is that this place definitely isn’t going to break the bank, so it works on a budget.

Overall, this was a decent place to grab a meal. We ordered strombolis over the phone, drove the eight minutes to the restaurant from campus, picked up the bolies, which were ready as soon as we got there and ate something new and different.
‘It’s like a fiesta in your mouth!” senior Chris Storey said, after having the Mexican Boli.
Honestly, who can compete with that? Eat-in or take-out, the food here is good for the price. If the weather’s frigid and you feel like staying in your room with some food, watching the game (Super Bowl, anyone?), screw Papa John’s and give Stromboli Express a shot.

Siegel is a member of
the class of 2010.

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