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Branca, Solera anniversary, and more

CHOW HOUND: Branching out 

Josh and Jenna Miles hope their new restaurant, Branca (683 Pittsford Victor Road), will be a branch to a new location: the suburbs. In fact, "branca" is Italian for "branch."

"We saw a little bit of a void in that area in terms of casual dining, and we wanted to offer a place for people who didn't want to drive all the way into the city," Josh says. The couple are also co-owners of The Revelry on University Avenue. Inspiration for the name also came from the Italian digestif, Fernet Blanca, which is the official house shot at the Revelry.

Josh and Jenna have a passion for Italian cuisine and wine — they are both sommeliers — and wanted to bring that passion to life with Branca. Head Chef Pasquale Sorrentino is from Naples and has studied how to make authentic Neapolitan-style pizza as well as curing meats and cheeses. In fact, the restaurant is currently in the process of becoming VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) certified, a "special designation to pizzerias who meet strict requirements that respect the tradition of the art of Neapolitan pizza making."

The menu at Branca — which changes seasonally to highlight fresh ingredients — features a variety of pizzas to choose from, pasta risotto, salads, and entrees, and the lunch menu includes a variety of panini. Of note is the Bufala e zucca pizza ($15) — butternut squash sauce, Bufala mozzarella, pecorino romano, olive oil, and fresh oregano. And the Cavatelli al sugo di cinghiale, castagne e pecorino di Pienza ($18) is a wild boar Bolognese, chestnuts and pecorino di pienza. Look for Branca's black truffle sauce, which is featured in a few dishes on the menu, including the Ricotta speziata pinoli e tartufo ($11) with house-made herbed ricotta, toasted pine nuts, and crostini.

Some items on Branca's cocktail menu may look familiar if you frequent The Revelry. The new restaurant has also added some cocktails that are aperitivo-inspired (aperitivo roughly means "to open" or "opener," and is a drink meant to be enjoyed before a meal) and amaro-inspired (translates to "bitter" in Italian). Branca also has an extensive wine and beer list.

Branca is located at 683 Pittsford Victor Road. It is open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.; and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. Menu prices range from $9 to $15 for lunch and $6 to $29 for dinner. You can find more online at brancabasin.com.

Quick Bites

Solera Wine Bar (647 South Avenue) will be celebrating its 8th anniversary on Thursday, November 13, from 5 p.m. to midnight. It will offer $1 glasses of sparkling wine all night.

The Market at I-Square (400 Bakers Park) in Irondequoit has added The Market Grill to its growing roster of restaurants open in the first building of the ongoing development project. The Market Grill serves burgers, sandwiches, soups, and more, using bread from local bakeries Martusciello's and Baker Street. More information can be found at i-square.us.

The Rabbit Room (61 North Main Street) in Honeoye Falls will be hosting an "artist palette" dinner to raise funds for the Mill Art Center & Gallery on Friday, November 21. Tickets for the dinner are $100 and a silent auction will also be held. Purchase tickets by November 15 by calling the Mill Art Center & Gallery at 624-7740.

The Friends of the Public Market have released a new cookbook, "Bringing the Market Home...Savoring the Seasons from the Rochester Public Market." Proceeds from the sales of the cookbook will support the Market Token Program which allows customers to use their Food Stamp EBT cards to purchase fresh food at the market. The cookbook is available at the Public Market office (280 North Union Street) for $25.

Healthy Food For All, a partnership between local farms and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, will hold its last farm-to-table benefit dinner of 2014 at West Haven Farm in Ithaca on Sunday, November 9, at 4 p.m. The event includes a tapas menu prepared by Just a Taste Restaurant, handcrafted beer from Bandwagon Brewpub and wines from King Ferry Winery and Red Newt Cellars Winery. All proceeds from the benefit will help to make fresh produce available to low income families. Tickets are $75 and are available online at healthyfoodforall.org/westhaven.htm or by calling 607-342-8845.

Openings

A business concept that could only have been dreamed up in a college dorm room, Insomnia Cookies (1333 Mount Hope Avenue) will open in College Town in November. The late-night bakery will deliver warm cookies and other sweet treats until 3 a.m. to college students burning the midnight oil studying — or not studying. More information can be found at insomniacookies.com.

Fans of the Macarollin food truck will be happy to know that it will open an indoor location in Marketplace Mall in early 2015. Follow Macarollin on Facebook for updates.

Closings

Whatta-Cuisine Vietnamese Restaurant (309 University Avenue) has closed.

Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to food@rochester-citynews.com.

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