My Utica New York Cavallo's Food Experience Review Part 1

Sunday, May 20, 2012

This photo is what they have on their menu a version of Greens. My niece ordered them and laughed when she tasted them, she said I should have made them instead, mine are much better! These were a little gritty and not as tender as we would like.

As many of my readers know,  Utica, New York  is my home town and near and dear to my heart! I go back as often as possible for my favorite foods. For over 20 years now, I have gone to Cavallo's in New Hartford, NY on Genesee St., always with great compliments on their food and service.  Every time we go home, my husband and I make this our last night get together there, with the family and friends to meet for our last great dinner, well unfortunately, I can't say that this year.  The service was by far the worst treatment we had ever experienced not only there anywhere, even sadder we had the largest group there that went unnoticed!  On a Tuesday night, they weren't even busy to have an excuse!  The food and the whole lack of service experience for 15 people was terribly disappointing. We got there around 5:30 and the rest trickled in around 6:00pm.  First thing, I was told I couldn't buy a round of drinks for my guests on a separate check to do a toast, we had to run a tab, it was policy... that had never happened before. So no arguments, I proceeded to run the tab. My brother had ordered a pizza and wings at 5:30 he was starving, he arrived there earlier and didn't want to wait for everyone. At 7:30 no food for him yet but the rest of us ( all 13 people left)  had ordered way after him and we all had our food. Get the picture, not very accomodating? Well to make matters worse, the food was not at all what we had expected each one of us had issues with the preparation of what we ordered.  The calamari wasn't cooked it was cold inside and rubbery, the coating was falling off and the Vodka riggies, these were tasteless, and very little sauce. The wings were dry and overcooked, eggplant bitter and even a steak sandwich was tough and the cheese wasn't melted. After 20 years and 1900 miles to fly, ( not to mention the bill was $350.00, no refills on our drinks unless we asked and waved  the waitress down more towards the end of all our meals. Then with even the numerous complaints nothing was done to make a better experience for my guests or me. Late dinners, poor service and undercooked or overcooked food.  A very disappointed family and friends dinner,  it was not surprising no one came after I repeatedly asked for a manager.  Needless to say this establishment will now be a very distant memory after 20 years of dedicated journeys to meet everyone I will never say again "I can't wait to go back there!"  I was beside myself thinking of all the good times we had there at one time, what in the world happened?

Uncle Joe, Aunt Linda, my husband Nemo, sisterinlaw, Tonya, motherinlaw Sandy, sisterinlaw Bobbi and my nephew Craig....
Even Adriana the youngest one, wasn't crazy about the macaroni and cheese, she left that too!

My beautiful great nieces Vanessa, Adriana and niece Mary who makes some mean greens!

John, Luke, Mary had the wings... dry and overcooked! Joanne didn't say a word but Luke made several complaints on why it took two hours to get a pizza and everyone else was done by the time he got it?  Really, unacceptable!

The best part of the whole evening was getting to be with my family and some great friends, this is my brother Luke Colenzo and I catching up..... nope no pizza yet, it's already been an hour!

Two of my dearest friends came to see me, Helen LaMore and Mary Macenroe, head of the Utica Boilermaker
As you can see the breading was falling off, the inside actually tasted raw, cold but who was going to come so they could get sent back? No one ever came back or asked if we were good with anything.

Vodka Riggies? With very little sauce,
tasted like plain boiled macaroni
 I stopped taking pictures, it wasn't worth the waste of space
 on my SD card, 15 disappointed people!
So tomorrow check back to see where to go for  great service and food in our opinion in the Upstate NY area, even though we all know food is a matter of opinion, good food and customer service go hand in hand and that can't be compromised, when you lose one or both there is no going back. 

We just loved our next visits on our vacation. The pastry, the food the service and people were all stay tuned!

If you would like some recipes of what we really enjoy eating growing up in Upstate NY see some of our homemade recipes. We always go back to enjoy foods like Chicken Riggies, wings, pizza, greens all from Upstate NY specialities.... Our favorites are Napoli's Pizza, Florentine Pastries, Palateri Joes, Hemstroughts Half Moon Cookies, Chesterfields Utica Greens, Joe's and Rosario's Pizza.  All the local feasts for pizza fritte just to name a few traditional spots we hit. Love the bagels at bagel grove and love the fish fry at Eddies in Sylvan Beach!
St Anthony's Son's of Italy Mount Carmel!  I carry these back on the plane in tupperware!

   see links below:

Chicken Riggie Fest
Fried Calamari
Upstate NY Greens
Tomato Pie Upstate NY Style
Italian Lemon Ice
Pizza Fritte Feast Fried Dough
Italian Gravy or Sauce the big debate
Feast Upstate NY Style Sausage and Peppers Sandwich
Upstate NY Apple Pie
Pizza Dough


  1. Sorry the food was bad. May be the restaurant needs to call Gordon Ramsey.

  2. That's a shame. I find that service is not what it used to be like at many places. People just don't believe in good old fashioned customer service anymore.

  3. That's awful! Talk about mismanagement! I hope the owner gets wind of your blog. I'm glad you found some other spots to enjoy your favorites...welcome home!

  4. Lovely family pictures. My father always says the best restaurant is at home! What a wise words..

  5. I had no idea you from Utica! I live in Clinton, and I'm a sophmore at Utica College. I've been to Cavallo's multiple times. I love that their menu is so vast, but I've had many hit-or-miss experiences. Sometimes the food & service is good; other times not so much.

  6. Don't you wonder what happened? Sometimes a restaurant can have an off night but interesting that no one even tried to give good service. I know when I've had a bad experience - I don't go back. But the happiness - at least shows in your faces of being together. Everyone looks so pleased to be with each other!

  7. Pamela Colenzo WardMay 20, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Aunt Claudia, I am sorry I wasn't there to see you for your last night in town, however,,,,, I guess the only thing I missed out on was the gathering of family and your friends. You are right, Mary, does make some "mean greens", it's in our blood to cook some good food!! Next time you come up, and want some good food, WE WILL MAKE YOU A DINNER YOU'LL NEVER FORGET!! HOME MADE BABY!! Love you, Pamela xoxo

  8. Sorry that happened to you all! It's been happening more and more where I live too. We had to find new favorites.

  9. Sorry the food was so bad! But good to know you found some place to enjoy your all time favorites.

  10. What a disappointment! Obviously there has been some change in management or ownership. Sad to have a traditional family stop take such a bad turn like this. However, the good thing is that there are more restaurants out there to choose from, so you will find another one to start a new regular family tradition!

  11. Dear Claudia, How disappointing!
    It is a shame.
    You and your family do look lovely. blessings dear. Catherine xo

  12. Such a bummer when a fave place goes downhill. I loved all the photos of you and your family. Your just a tiny little thing, wish I had your figure. xx

  13. I'm sorry it was such a poor experience. I also have places that are dear to my heart because of many memories there and it's so painful when they disappoint.

  14. Best part is the photos of your family. But in an Italian family it is all about the food! I hear you on the review. Have gone to Cavallo's since I was in high school. And over the years...well...there have been some changes. Too bad.

  15. I was never a great lover of the place, and this was as far back as the late 90s, the last time I was there. The owner could be a bit arrogant, so it isn't any surprise that no one came to your table when you asked to speak with someone. I could understand one or two dishes possibly being an itsy bitsy somewhat off, but everything, including the service itself? I think because the place has been there for so long that they may have come to feel a bit too comfortable in their longevity. Being that the area has really taken a beating over the past fifty years, any restaurant that has lasted more than a decade can be seen as some local success story. However, when the establishment itself begins to take that reputation too seriously or, worse, for granted, it doesn't bode well for them.

    Thankfully, Utica still has a plethora of fantastic eateries to put Cavallo's to shame and be forgotten. Chesterfields is amazing (although I hear they've moved to North Utica), and then there are the Nole brother's place Café Cannoli's. They were on Culver Ave last I heard, but they had opened a place on Genesee St., and in New Hartford at some point as well. They went to Italy and studied pastry making there, and their stuff is fantastic. I could go on and on about the many places, but then the list would be very long. But Cavallo's? Nope, too much like a big franchise type place now.


Remember to use the search option for a recipe you're looking for and thanks for all your kind words and support. We love our readers all the best Claudia