Delve into 5 must-try dishes for Downtown Dining Week

Must-try from Dining Week

As midterm exams approach, reward yourself for all of your hard work and take advantage of the discounted lunch and dinner prices during Syracuse's 15th annual Downtown Dining Weeks.
Published: February 16, 2019
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Downtown Syracuse can sometimes seem like a trek from campus, but the deals during the 15th annual Downtown Dining Weeks make the trip worth it. From Feb. 18 until March 3, the Downtown Committee of Syracuse will host the two-week-long event, which features 28 restaurants offering 3-course lunches for $10 or less and 37 restaurants offering 3-course dinners for $30 or less. Here are some of the must-try items of participating restaurants:

a Mano Kitchen & Bar

A Mano may be new to Syracuse, but owner Anthony Fiacchi has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, and Alex — Fiacchi’s son and a Mano’s chef — traveled throughout Europe, learning about its food culture, according to a Mano’s website.

Fiacchi said any of the pastas on the Dining Weeks menu — Cavatelli, Bolognese or Pumpkin Cappelletti — are his must-try recommendations. All of a Mano’s pastas, breads and pizza doughs are made in-house.

A Mano has a casual vibe, and Fiacchi said all of the food is unique to different regions of Italy.

“It’s not your standard Italian-American food,” Fiacchi said.

Check out a Mano’s Dining Weeks dinner menu and lunch menu.

Kasai Ramen

Also new to Syracuse is Kasai Ramen, which opened three months ago. Owner and executive chef Kyle Mastropietro moved to Syracuse from Philadelphia and noticed there was void for Kasai Ramen’s type of cuisine, which he describes as non-traditional Japanese.

“We want to have fun, we want to play and have our take on these traditional dishes so it’s not straight by the book,” Mastropietro said. “We’re really adventurous and we wanted to open people’s eyes to this style of cuisine.”

For the Dining Weeks menu, Mastropietro said he tried to highlight some of the dishes that people may miss on the regular menu. He recommends the roasted mushroom salad, in which ingredients are all locally sourced, and the sous vide duck breast ramen. Everything at Kasai Ramen is made in-house, and vegetable and bone broths cook for at least 16 hours and have no added salt or ingredients.

Check out Kasai Ramen’s ramen lunch and dinner menus.

The Hops Spot

The Hops Spot, which opened in Syracuse in July 2018, brings its own spin on poutine and burgers. From the Downtown Dining Weeks menu, manager Matthew Bartelson recommends the homemade pierogies for the second course and the Taj Chicken, the Sweet Heat or classic burger, or the Classique Poutine.

The Hops Spot also recently acquired its liquor license, so customers can now choose either a house glass of red or white wine, a beer or a cocktail as part of their three-course dinner.

Check out The Hops Spot’s Dining Weeks dinner menu and lunch menu.


Since the 1980s, Pastabilities has been a staple in Armory Square, and continues to bring the heat with its signature spicy hot tomato oil. Owner Karen Korteling said the oil is a must-try, especially for first timers.

Korteling said all of the pastas are homemade so she recommends trying any of them, but she suggests the chicken riggies for those who can tolerate heat.

For dessert, Pastabilities’ menu offers homemade chocolate, carrot and peanut butter cake balls, which Korteling says are very addicting.

Check out Pastabilities’ Dining Weeks Italian dinner menu.

SKY Armory

Located at 351 S. Clinton St., SKY Armory is not your typical restaurant. The venue usually hosts weddings, galas and other events, but will be open to the public for dinner during Downtown Dining Weeks.

Chef Jae Longo said the must-try items are the winter salad with mixed greens for the first course; pan-seared scallops with smoked Maryland crab mousse and pickled onions and capers for the second course; and slow braised sesame-soy glazed boneless short ribs with garlic smashed Yukon gold potatoes and brie creme.

Check out SKY Armory’s Dining Weeks dinner menu.