Contrary to what some might think, Buffalo is not the only city in upstate New York with a culinary claim to fame.
Nicholas Terzella is spreading the word. The 29-year-old graduate of the New England Culinary Institute grew up in Binghamton, about 150 miles northwest of Manhattan, where there's a celebrated local treat called a spiedie (pronounced "SPEE-dee"). After stints cooking in Napa Valley restaurants and as a private chef in New York, Terzella settled in Arlington to start a business of his own. He opted for a food truck and named it Bada Bing. It debuted in October last year, with Terzella's hometown favorite food headlining the menu.
According to Bada Bing's Web site, "spiedie" derives from the Italian word "spiedini," which refers to anything cooked on a skewer.
Terzella prefers chicken breast and pork shoulder, which he hand-trims, cubes and marinates in a blend of oil, vinegar and spices for three or four days. The spiedies are then charbroiled on the truck's grill and kept warm on a steam table. Typically, they're tucked inside a soft roll to form what Terzella has lovingly dubbed a "sangweech," echoing the pronunciation of his Italian grandparents.
We were impressed by the juiciness of the meat in an Original with chicken ($6). The Don Ho, with its soy-ginger glaze, pickled carrots and scallions, proves that Terzella knows a thing or two about flavor pairings and the importance of taming sugar with spice ($6.50). For the carb-phobic, spiedies can also be ordered as a salad, on a bed of greens with tomato and cucumber ($6.50; $7 with extra toppings).
In a nod to another city's favorite, Terzella offers just-greasy-enough cheesesteaks ($6.50). A self-described traditionalist, he serves them either "wit" or "witout" sauteed onions, and he'll use only hoagie rolls from Philadelphia's famous Amoroso's Baking Co.
This is filling fare, but should you be hungry for more, "gourmet sides" are also available. Velvety (if a touch salty) chicken-and-dumpling soup was featured the day we stopped by, a comfort against the frigid lunchtime air (eight ounces, $3). In warmer weather, Terzella will take advantage of the area's abundant produce and showcase several daily options.
As for the food truck's line, it moves fast because most items have been prepped ahead of service. And as for the name, "it's not a reference to 'The Sopranos??" laughs Terzella. Rather, it's a shout-out to his old stomping ground: "Everyone back home calls Binghamton 'The Bing.'â??"
-Catherine Zuckerman (Good to Go, Jan. 12, 2010)