Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pustie Vs. Pustie. Can Our Local Pusties Stand Up to Utica Pusties?

As you may know, I have something of a soft spot in my heart for the jewel of Central NY. I am, of course, speaking of the plucky city of Utica. If you will remember during my last trip I partook of the Utican pastry specialty that is the Pustie.  A pustie is a local varient of the Italian pastry pasticciotto (wiki translated from the Italian) and consists of custard encased in crust.

Now, you can get pusties at pretty much any Italian bakery throughout the state but only in the greater Utica/Rome area are they revered as a local treasure. It occurred to me the other day to see how one of our own, local (Capital Region) pasticciotto (they don't even really call them pusties 'round these parts) stacked up against a serious example of a Utica/Rome pustie.

For the Central New York contender let us take the offering from the Franklin Hotel in Rome. The Franklin is a must visit if you are out that way, have the Utica Greens and a plate of fried hot peppers with some crusty bread. You must trust me on this, it will become your favorite lunch and you will crave it daily. They also have have a decent selection of house baked goods and pictured above is a lovely boxful of vanilla and lemon pusties.

Here is a Franklin pustie with its guts exposed.

The vaguely nipple-esque pustie is a piece of art, what with its shiny browness and hearty proportions. Richly sweet custard with a beautiful vanilla flavor encased in a buttery, flaky, tender crust. I am not big into over sweetened fruit pastries or cream filled, powder sugar doused thingies so the understated sweetness of the pustie is a perfect fit for my sensibilities.

Now we have the pasticciotto from Bella Napoli in Latham.

Hrrrm... looks a little pale. Looks a wee bit crumbly and not very shiny. No appealing nipple thing on the top either. I will have to admit that I was a bit suspicious, but I did not pass immediate judgement.

Here we have her cracked open.

With the Bella Napoli offerin you have a sort of grainy, crumbly, sweetened pastry. It is less like a pie crust and more like a sugar cookie. Breaking one of these in half (to devour greedily) while driving home from the bakery results in many crumbs all over your belly and lap. The custard is not rich and creamy like you would expect it to be and you have here only a hint of vanilla.

So there you have it. As I expected the art of the pustie is significantly more refined in the true pustie country of Oneida County. Not that our local ones are bad, but you are sort of ruined for inferior pusties once you have had the real deal in its own terroir.

So there you have it, as expected the heavy weight favorite pummels the local boy.


  1. Heh, heh, heh. Dude. You said, Terroir.

    All of a sudden you get into the NYT and it's Mr. Fancypants. All kidding aside, congratulations on the recent mention.

    As far as I'm concerned you are better press for the region than Rachel Dott appearing on Cupcake Wars. Let's hope our neighbors down south are inspired to come up and munch on our three-inch wieners.

  2. I think the fact alone that it's called a "pustie" makes it instantly unappealing to me.

  3. I think the fact alone that it's called a "pustie" makes it instantly unappealing to me.

  4. That's a western NY thing? I grew up w/ pusties....except we never called them that.....the name sounds wicked gross!

  5. Mmmm....pusties. My parents were quite the devotees of pusties back in the day. We used to go to Bazaan's bakery on Lincoln Ave., at the end of Mandeville St where my grandparents lived. The best pusties ever, as well as these cool crescent shaped rolls with poppy seeds on top which I think were referred to as regaliki, but were not almond cookies - they were a roll. Old school, and alas, long gone.

    Speaking of Utica delicacies, I am looking for a suitable local (Cap. Region) replacement for Hemstrought's Bakery Half Moons. No white dough, it has to be chocolate, and the icing has to be know what I'm talking about. Any ideas??


    1. White Rose Bakery in Little Falls has good half moons along with everything else they make; especially the tomato pie. Can't go wrong with anything there.

    2. Holland Farms on Oriskany Blvd in Yorkville

  6. Stop in and try the new Italian bakery in LF original pastries,pusties,and nothing you will find local as good..The Village Green Cafe and pastries .opening January 15th,,You will love it..

  7. I am frome Rome NY and I can tell you they are amazing another local favorite turkey joints look them up

  8. Four seasons pizza on cavanaugh rd off rt 49. Best around


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