This summer has brought some changes to the food industry landscape in the Mohawk Valley. Here’s some news you might have missed and what’s coming soon to the Utica area.
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Wicked Sweets by Alyssa has outgrown its Yorkville location and is moving on to bigger and better things, this time at 1402 Champlin Ave. in Utica. Owner Alyssa Sadallah said she plans to reopen in mid-September and bring all the “mean candy” she’s known for, such as French macaroons and personalized 3D cakes.
The move comes after seven and a half years of operating at 12 Erie St. Sadallah said she always wanted to be a chef but ultimately succumbed to her family’s uplifting tales of the demands of the food industry. Sadallah then went to Utica College on business, but the dream of opening a small cafe and selling pastries and cakes never flew away.
She started baking at home while in college for friends and family and it continued to grow with people asking for different models and specialized 3D cakes, she said.
“I’ve always loved art, especially sculpture and this was my way of combining my love of food and art,” said Sadallah, a New York Mills native.
The bakery specializes in bespoke cakes for all occasions, including wedding cakes, but is also known for making different bars and pastries.
But Sadallah will not be alone this time. Her sister, Amanda Mazza, will join her on Champlin Avenue with her business The Snack Rack, which will offer healthy options like protein shakes and protein snacks and bars and oatmeal to go. The sisters have also launched a new business together called Wicked Scoops, an ice cream shop that will incorporate Sadallah’s cookies and pastries and specialty flavor combinations into its treats. All three companies will operate in the new space.
The bakery will add new items like slice cake and offer different coffees.
Bella Regina now operates in former North Utica location
Bella Regina returned home as the restaurant moved to 15 Auert Ave. in North Utica where it opened in 2002 before expanding to Genesee Street. The Italian restaurant known for its chicken riggies, greens and vintage items reopened in the new space on Tuesday, August 23.
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The restaurant may be back in its first home, but with a few changes. While it has reduced and sold off some of its decorative items and furniture, Bella Regina has retained its vintage vibe with popular statues of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Humphrey Bogart. For people waiting to be seated, the restaurant has a new lounge area.
Other changes can be found in the menu. While some favorites like chicken riggies or greens remain, the restaurant is now offering free tomato pie at the table and has brought pizzas to the menu along with calzones and garlic knots. Their popular take-out area where the restaurant offers ready-made riggies, greens and desserts is also back, but this time with a bigger cooler and in a bigger space.
The restaurant is now open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and for dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
“It was awesome. People are so excited,” owner Regina Piacentino said. “We feel very comfortable here. A large percentage of my clientele on Genesee lived there (North Utica) and now they like our proximity.”
A “small contained fire” in the kitchen forced McGills Whiskey Tavern and Grill to close on June 24. The bar, located at 2284 State Route 5 outside of Utica, was closed for two months and finally reopened on Thursday, August 25.
“It’s nice to have a little break but we’ve missed everyone, we have a lot of regulars and everyone calls us,” said owner Mark Rende. “It’s already been very busy today.”
Despite the bar’s closure over the summer, the business has been able to stay afloat thanks to its working food truck, Mr. McGills, which has participated in several events such as What the Truck? Utica, Ilion’s Food Truck Frenzy and the Herkimer County Fair in addition to catering at private parties and graduations.
“It’s been tough, but we have the food truck. It got us through the summer,” manager Darla Delia said. “It’s exciting, we missed everyone. We all stick together with our team, we helped each other.”
Open since 1980, McGills Tavern is known for offering chicken riggies, greens, mac and cheese and fried fish platters.