The Essential Foods of Central New York

Spiedie on a plate

Welcome to Central New York, an outstanding culinary destination filled with inventive and, in some cases, famous dishes. Even common fare hits different in Central New York, where the epicur-ious will find plenty to delight the taste buds. Here’s just a handful of our favorite local entrees.


It’s the food that made Binghamton famous with media like Vice calling it “the greatest sandwich on earth.” This culinary delight is simple, but super-effective at satisfying hunger. What are spiedies? Essentially, they are marinated cubes of meat usually consumed in sandwich form. Why Binghamton? Well, at one point the vibrant upstate city was a center of industry, which brought a lot of European immigrants looking for factory work to the area. The spiedies concept is actually an import of Italy, where it typically consisted of lamb. Today, places like the appropriately named Spiedie & Rib Pit serve up the good stuff in varieties that include beef, chicken, pork, veal and even venison. They get creative with variations that infuse Buffalo wings, Greek fare and Caesar-style chicken into the mix.

Utica Greens

There are plenty more great, iconic tastes in Central New York, including several invented in the city of Utica. One of the most famous tastes comes in the form of Utica Greens. This Italian-American classic features escarole, a slightly bitter green, sautéed in garlic and olive oil.  The kick comes from hot cherry peppers, while salty prosciutto, nutty pecorino cheese and crunchy bread crumbs add layers of flavor. Born in Utica’s Italian restaurants during the 1980s, it’s a twist on a traditional Sicilian dish. Utica greens have become a point of pride for the city and its popularity has spread nationwide.

Hot Dogs in Cooperstown

No trip to Cooperstown is complete without that baseball staple of a hot dog. The home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is the ultimate destination for fans of the sport. There are more than a dozen eateries serving up numerous variations of this iconic snack around town. Stop by any one of them to get a taste of the ballpark experience on your next baseball-infused vacation to charming Cooperstown.

Ray Brothers Barbeque

Food Network declared the Ray brothers’ ribs the best in New York state. That’s high praise for the Bouckville barbecue joint that opened in 2014. A project of brothers and food industry veterans Tucker and Colin, the eatery located on historic and scenic U.S. Route 20 routinely draws crowds to this otherwise quiet town. Meats smoked for up to a half-day using local wood is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so get in line early and often.

So, whether you come for craft beverage, outdoor adventure or family fun, don’t sleep on the culinary specialties right under your nose … and mouth.