Pusties, riggies, and hats: if those words mean nothing to you, you’re not a Utica native, in which case you should make a point of visiting Upstate NY to sample some classic regional Italian-American food. Riggies refer to the Utica fave chicken riggies, aka rigatoni. Hats are the pasta known elsewhere as orecchiette, often served baked in tomato sauce. Pusties are the subject at hand.
Pusties are a beloved Utica pastry, and are known as such only in the Utica area. They are “officially” called pasticciotti, a single-serving Italian custard-filled tart. The usual fillings for the rich tart crust are chocolate, vanilla, lemon, and Italian cheesecake. The Florentine specializes in these, and other, Italian pastries. We especially love the vanilla-filled pusties, with the delicately scented filling poised in texture between custard and pastry cream. The cannolis, too, can be recommended.
There is a pleasant little room where the pastries can be enjoyed with Italian coffee, if you’re not taking a box home. We must not forget one important fact: these pusties are a true bargain. And, if you’re willing to go with the day-old item, they are half-price. Incredible!
The Florentine is located on Bleecker Street, the classic old Italian neighborhood in this once very Italian-American city. Today, Bleecker is an amalgam of many different cultures, but the Italian shops still predominate. Florentine is one of the finest.