Dolce Vita World Bistro, one of Syracuse’s newer restaurants, just marked its one-year anniversary and a visit last night revealed that it is really coming into its own. We’ve been checking out Dolce Vita periodically over the past 12 months, excited to support a new chef in a location sorely in need of inspired restaurants; Genessee St., diagonal from Syracuse Stage. Last night’s meal proved that the kinks have worked themselves out and we enjoyed a variety of dishes, as well as a very decent Key Lime martini (yup, they have a good bartender now).
Chef Jason Jessmore focuses his menu on a range of countries with specials that change seasonally. But as far and wide as his menu’s geography ranges, he’s also got another focus this summer: local. Dolce Vita’s specials menu currently showcases CNY, with dishes made from local meats, poultry, produce, etc.
Dolce starts all meals with their signature starter, a small bowl of chicken cassoulet and fresh bread to whet the appetite and alert you to the quality of what’s to come. In our case what was to come began with Hunan Scallops. Mindful of eyes that were bigger than our stomachs, we shared the appetizer, which consisted two large scallops and two large scoops of rice, lightly covered with a spicy, smokey orange sauce that didn’t give up its ingredients the flavors blended so well. From there we moved on to soup and salad. I had a delicious smoked shrimp and tomato bisque, spicy yet not overwhelming hot on the palate, while across the table my husband munched on a Ceasar salad. My main course was a ”bowl,” which is green peppers, pineapple, onion and rice with a choice of house teriyaki or Thai chili sauce and chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or tofu served over rice. I chose Thai chili and chicken. The portion was large and the chunks of chicken breast were juicy and tender. My only suggestion is that I think next time I would ask the chef to thrown in a bit of basil, it would have complemented the Thai chili sauce, but I’m a basil addict, so maybe it’s just me. Husband kept with his mediterranean theme and had a rustic chicken with parmesan tomatoes, artichokes, kalamata olives, and a basil risotto. It was delicious, but then I knew that, as I’d ordered it on a previous visit. We both made it a point to stop eating and box part of our main courses so we could enjoy dessert, and we were glad we did. We split a Poire William cake, which was a sponge cake filled with Poire WIlliam, a French sweet pear liquor, flavored cream. It was the perfect end to what was a well executed meal in a cozy little bistro.
While last night found us focused on Asia and the mediterranean, with a brief nod to France during dessert, there are ample options for Indian and, of course, American selections on the menu, including Bombay chicken dish and Cajun or “Cowboy” steaks. Dolce also has a range of options for vegetarians, including lasagna; Bindi Baji, veggies over rice; tofu curry and several pasta sauces. A notable feature about the pasta dishes is the choice of your base (fettuccine, gnocchi or Udon) and some very creative sauces–portobello lavender, fennel almond pesto, in addition to a sun dried tomato sauce and an asian inspired tomato sauce.
Dolce Vita is a welcoming, cozy bistro, and I hope chef Jason stays the course on combining local and world cuisine in inventive recipes. He cares deeply about both food and community and that’s a winning combination in my book.