his Torali meatballs are on the lunch and bar menus, but not on the dinner menu. There,
he features a 7-ounce meatball with spaghetti entree.
He has learned that less is more and to keep menus seasonal and straightfor ward. For
the fall small-plates menu, he’s planning a bruschetta of roasted local squash—either
acorn or kabocha—with fresh sage, grilled/charred ciabatta and melted Gorgonzola,
finished with aged balsamic vinegar.
Jason Jessmore joined the staff of Aster Pantry & Parlor in Syracuse, New York, in
January, and his enthusiasm for the menu at this RainDog Hospitality Group location
Although there’s no tandoor oven on the premises, naan flatbread is a popular small
plate, he says. “We have to cook off the dough on our French-style flattop, which gives
that sear on the outside.” He changes toppings daily, but the crispy duck with goat
cheese and housemade cranberry jam is the guest favorite.
To keep the menu fresh, he slightly tweaks the selections every six weeks,
performing a seasonal overhaul about four times a year. Come fall, he hopes to get
honeynut squash from a local farmer. “We might do a bisque, and perhaps pickle or
roast the seeds to use as a garnish for the soup,” he says.
For a small-plates presentation, he may cut the squash in half and braise it with butter and
local Empire Amber Ale. “For serving, we’ll warm up the beer with the butter left over from
A fan of molecular gastronomy, Jessmore enjoys it for the flexibility of what you can
present on the plate, he says. For an entree, he menus scallops with bacon, creating bacon
For a small plate with a molecular gastronomy vibe, Jessmore menus Aster Caprese
Salad. “It’s pressed mozzarella, tomatoes, balsamic and basil, using balsamic for the
pearls. It’s a combo of two chemicals. You mix the balsamic with one, then drop it into
the other where it forms the pearls.”
NE W YORK-BASED AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIS T KAREN WEISBERG HAS COVERED THE ISSUES AND LUMINARIES OF THE FOOD-AND-BEVERAGE WORLD—BOTH COMMERCIAL AND NONCOMMERCIAL—FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS.
OPPOSITE, LEFT: Stuffed mushrooms at
The Cheesecake Factory.
OPPOSITE, RIGHT: Grilled octopus with
chorizo piperade and grilled country bread at
ABOVE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:
1) & 2) 3 Little Pigs sliders and deviled
eggs at Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar. 3) The
baked oysters at Torali Italian—Steak.