The Italian Chef

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The Italian flag flying high at full staff makes it clear that the folks at The Italian Chef are serious about serving authentic Italian food. The small eatery, nestled in a North Side neighborhood, stays true to its ethnic roots by offering an assortment of cultural dishes. From the thick calzones to the wide pizza pies, The Italian Chef offers customers a taste of Italy in Syracuse.

On Tap: The cooler is stacked with Pepsi products to suit any taste. Orange and grape Crush, Sierra Mist, lemonade, energy drinks, apple juice and water are among the bottled drinks served. Two-liter servings are also available. The bottom line: The drink choices are not exotic, but customers are bound to find something they like.

The Scene: When you walk up to the counter, you may not know what you want to order. But even first-timers will know something will catch their attention at The Italian Chef. The register is next to a glass counter, which showcases the unique pizzas. Behind are the huge pizza ovens, where customers have a clear view of fresh pies coming out. The white tiles, red walls and green restroom door add to the feel of dining in an Italian kitchen. Photos of people enjoying past Columbus Day parades add to the cultural mix. The bottom line: The Italian Chef has a homey feel that will put customers at ease. 

The Blue Plate Special: The Italian Chef, like any good Italian restaurant, has the classic strombolis and lunas on its menu. But a hearty slice of pizza, at around $2, is the best deal there. The massive slices will satisfy the most insatiable appetite. They are so large they almost completely cover a plate and can be cut in half and shared. These folks know their pizza. They've come up with an array of specialty pizzas that will cater to the conventional and adventurous eater. The unique pizza combinations include: eggplant parmigiana, chicken cordon bleu, white garlic, chicken bacon ranch and the Philadelphia, modeled after a Philly steak sandwich. The veggie florentine pizza (tomatoes, garlic, onions, broccoli, green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, mozzarella and Romano cheeses) with its crispy and crunch crust is sublime. A medium pizza is $12; a large is $15.50. That's a good deal for those huge slices. Chicken wings, hot and cold subs, salads and appetizers, including mozzarella sticks are on the menu. Those with a sweet tooth can devour a variety of cheesecake slices, some topped with berries, others with chocolate chips and peanut butter. Cannolis and homemade brownies are also served. The bottom line: You can't go wrong with the pizza here. It's classic and exotic. But those who may want to try something else have a bevy of choices.

The Crew: Staffers at The Italian Chef are beyond nice. They welcome customers -- first-timers and regulars -- like family. While it is basically a self-serve restaurant, with patrons ordering food at the counter and taking it to their seats, staffers remain attentive. The bottom line: The people working at The Italian Chef are good folks who will share their suggestions for menu choices and chat about life in the city.

The Crowd: This neighborhood eatery attracts diverse customers. Fathers and mothers stop by to pick up supper. Police officers dine there during meal breaks. Teenagers pop inside for slices of pizza they devour as they head out. People getting out of work feast on pasta after a long day on the job. There is a place for everyone at The Italian Chef's dinner table. The bottom line: The customers are families and regular friendly folks who enjoy good food. 

Details: The Italian Chef is a hike from Syracuse University. It is a bus ride away from campus. But it is worth piling friends into the car to get away from the Hill to venture into the city and get a real taste of Syracuse. It's located on the corner of Butternut and Townsend at 400 Butternut St. The bottom line: The Italian Chef is a great place for a hefty, affordable meal. While cheap can mean tasteless, The Italian Chef is still heavy on the flavor and light on the wallet.

Sherri Williams


400 Butternut St.
Syracuse, NY 13208
(315) 470-1111

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