The journey to the end goal, they say, is often the most fun, and that may very well be the case for several Rochester area on-the-go restaurants.
Le Petit Poutine has been serving poutine from food trucks since 2011 but this winter opened their first brick-and-mortar location, Petit Poutinerie.
Adam Bierton’s love for fried chicken — and his grandmother — has gone from viral pop-up sensation to plans for a stand-alone business, or businesses.
Luis Perez spent nearly 20 years working in restaurants, and many of those years were spent in the pizza industry. After a brief hiatus from the pizza business, Perez was drawn back to making pies.
And Jim Zobel turned the loss of a job into making pizza in his garage, and now what was more of a hobby has become a business, Dougboyz, the food service at The Richmond.
What do you get when you mix the creative mind of an artist who loves to cook, with a grandmother’s recipe for Southern flavor and region’s love of comfort food?
Some of the best fried chicken in Rochester.
Adam Bierton has taken his love for the food industry and the fried chicken recipe from his grandmother, Patricia Maccarone, to create Sunday dinner in box — pop-up restaurant style.
Chick’n Out operates out of the kitchen at East End Tavern, serving chicken four days a week (Thursday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. when the emphasis is on family style meals).
“I built upon my grandmother’s recipe with a Nashville flair,” Bierton said. “Fried chicken is just so nostalgic. It’s a timeless dish and it’s very personal for so many people. We put a lot of love into it.”
In turn, diners love it. Over the past three years, Chick’n Out and brought its chicken to various locations in the area, from the Blossom Road Pub to Bar Bantam, from Hattie’s rooftop bar at the Strathallan Hotel to the Lake House on Canandaigua.
Bierton hatched the idea a few years back, after returning to his native Rochester after a seven-year stint in Brooklyn. Pop-up chicken was hot in New York City, but he found franchise fast food outlets were about the only place to get fried chicken in his hometown.
“I’ve always been a creative, an artist, and I spent a year and a half researching fried chicken and creating my recipe,” he said.
The pop-up approach to bringing Chick’n Out to the public was a measured way to start operations.
“I could introduce the product, develop a following and reduce the risk of brick-and-mortar,” Bierton said.
He was ready to open his own restaurant space in March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh to the plans. Now, however, he anticipates opening his own downtown location in the near future, with the goal of additional locations to meet demand.
Peels on Wheels Pizza Garage
Peels on Wheels was born in the summer of 2019, beginning as a mobile concept. Owner Luis Perez makes Neapolitan-style pizza, where the dough is hand stretched and baked in under five minutes.
Perez sources ingredients locally, including produce and meat from sustainable farmers in the area. Some ingredients are imported straight from Italy, and many of the cheeses and sausages that Peels on Wheels uses is made in-house.
In July 2021, Peels on Wheels became more than a mobile concept with the opening of the Pizza Garage at 1157 Culver Road. The truck, which is a Piaggio Ape P601 from Naples, Italy, is now on display in the Pizza Garage and is used for private events.
Peels on Wheels is open Wednesday through Saturday, and Patrons can enjoy a New York-style pizza every day they’re open, with other styles rotated on Wednesdays and Thursdays. For example, “Motor City Wednesdays” highlights Detroit-style pizza, which are 8” by 10” with crispy cheese crust. “Thicc Thursdays” are for Sicilian pizza (described as thick and airy with a crispy texture) and Grandma-style pizza, which are pan cooked with a sesame seed crust.
In addition to offering delicious pizza pies for take-out, Peels on Wheels partners with the Rochester Brainery on a variety of pizza making classes for all skill levels. Perez also teaches private pizza making lessons.
For more than a decade, thanks to the culinary creations of Le Petit Poutine, festival goers and food truck enthusiasts in the Rochester area have dined on poutine, that addictive Canadian delicacy of fries, cheese curds and gravy.
From the Lilac Festival and Party in the Park to curbside lunches and weddings, foodies got their fix.
And then came withdrawal, when winter set in and the Le Petit Poutine food trucks were forced into hibernation from November to April.
But poutine lovers can rejoice. Lizzie Clapp and Ronnie McClive, owners and operators of the trucks, decided it was time to open their own brick-and-mortar restaurant as a year-round complement to the trucks.
Petit Pourtinerie at 44 Elton St. in the Neighborhood of the Arts began welcoming guests in February. It’s not, however, a clone of what you’d find if you were chasing the trucks.
“The fast casual model is popular but we wanted to dress it up so we call it ‘fast classy,’” McClive said. “We tried to create something cozy, a place to come and meet and have food and a beer or glass of wine.”
Popularity of the product dictated a restaurant. Between April 1 and Nov. 1, Le Petit Poutine’s two food trucks hit about 300 events. Now diners craving poutine can, as McClive said, “chase the trucks or come downtown and take it slow and try new menu items. We’ve got a lot more to offer so we’re creating a place to sample it all.”
Having a year-round home also means providing steady employment. Shutting down in November every year made it difficult to retain staff.
While the trucks offer a more scaled-down, quick-prep, quick-serve menu to get folks on their way, Petit Poutinerie is about the food but also the experience. Get a plate to share and enjoy a meal without the rush, if you so desire.
There are eight varieties of poutine on the menu, four sandwiches and two meal-sized salads. About 75 percent of the menu is gluten free and about 30 to 35 percent is vegan friendly.
But don’t worry, the trucks will still be on the road. They’re the staple of the business.
Doughboyz is a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because restaurants were forced to shutter operations, Jim Zobel lost his job as a chef.
But while you can take the chef out of the kitchen, you can’t take the kitchen out of the chef.
With time on his hands, Zobel began experimenting different types of sourdough bread and then decided to test sourdough pizza crust.
“I started posting pictures of the pizzas on Instagram and people started commenting, ‘That looks awesome, I want to try it.’”
Considering the response, he figured he was on to something, so he bought a portable pizza oven, borrowed his mother’s KitchenAid stand mixer and got baking.
“Then one Sunday afternoon I posted on my Instagram, ‘I’ve got 20 pizzas; if you want one, message me.’ They were gone in five minutes. The next Sunday I sold 40 and eventually I had to cap it at 60. I sold out 56 weeks in a row.”
Which led to a popup brick-and-mortar location at The Richmond at 21 Richmond St. in downtown Rochester, a weekly event for a year and a half that eventually led to Zobel running food operations at the bar Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Doughboyz pizza will expand to a five-days-a-week schedule at The Richmond starting in May.
The menu includes the Bianco, which has ricotta, mozzarella, hot sausage, chili flake, Sicilian oregano, hot honey, fennel pollen and olive oil. The Diavolo has San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, cup and char pepperoni, cherry pepper puree, hot sausage, parmesan, basil and olive oil. Chicken parm dumplings highlight the appetizer menu.
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