Jean Thornton telephoned from Birmingham last night. She was watching TV and there was a show about Italian restaurants in upstate New York. My home town Utica was featured, of course. Home to some of the best Italian food in the United States!

The TV  featured Utica restaurant was the Chesterfield. An old time Utica mainstay. A neighborhood Italian restaurant. It was probably in existence when I was born in 1935. I dined there several times a month for years. Occasionally threw a small party in its back room.

The house specialty: Chicken riggies! 

The TV show claimed chicken riggies were “discovered” at the Chesterfield in 1989. Not correct. Chicken riggies were the talented result of another popular Utica area place called the Clinton House. Run by Richie Scamardo and Bobby Hazelton. Unquestionably an Italian restaurant. Called the Clinton House because it began in the Utica suburb Clinton. First a small dining operation in a shopping center. Later a large Italian restaurant in the heart of Clinton. Finally years later ended up in the Utica suburb of New Hartford. Much closer to Uticans who were its largest number of customers.

No matter where located, I was a diehard Clinton House fan to the tune of at least two times a week. The food was spectacular! Outstanding!

Richie and Bobby first produced chicken rigiges in 1979, ten years earlier than the Chesterfield.

What are chicken riggies? Also known as Utica riggies. 

A pasta based dish. Generally rigatonis. Buried in greens, chicken, sweet and hot peppers, onions, Romano cheese, white wine, and a spicy marinara sauce.

A bit on the heavy side. Nevertheless delicious! 

The last time I was in Utica was 15 years ago in 2008. I do know if the Clinton House still exists. The Chesterfield must. It’s eternal.

Jean returns to Key West today. We will be having dinner together a few times. Not chicken riggies, however. No Key West restaurant features them.

Enjoy your day!

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