Articles & Reviews

"Dining Out: Mo's Pit BBQ & Cowboy Cuisine, Camillus" [click to expand article]
By Jacqueline M. Domin,
"Dining Out: Mo's Pit BBQ & Cowboy Cuisine, Camillus" [click to hide article]
By Jacqueline M. Domin,
  • The day we visited Mo's Pit BBQ & Cowboy Cuisine, a woman came in for lunch and decided to try the brisket.

    Her reaction, according to our waitress: "Oh my lord, this is tender."

    Mo's clearly knows how to cook meat. Everything we tried came apart so easily that we had no need for knives. But we wished the meat had more flavor -- something to really make it sing. Plus, we had to work around some pretty substantial pockets of fat to get to the good stuff. Homemade sides were a hit, ranging from good to spectacular.

    Mo's is billed as "an authentic roadhouse BBQ," and it certainly looks the part. Located on Bennett Road in Camillus, it's a brown-paneled building that also houses Ed's Auto Sales. Mo's unpretentious dining room has about a dozen tables and seating for 40 or so. When we visited on a Wednesday night, there were six other people eating, with music playing at a comfortable level.

    There is a small selection of starters that includes chicken tenders and three kinds of french fries. We opted for a dozen of Mo's smoky wings ($7.99), which are smoked, then fried. They come hot, XX hot or BBQ. We went with the BBQ, which so heavily cloaked the chicken that we could barely make out what kind of meat we were eating. The wings did have wonderfully crispy skin.

    Mo's offers chicken done two ways for dinner. The first, Mo's BBQ 1/2 chicken ($10.99) is brined, smoked and finished with Mo's BBQ sauce. We ordered the Cornell chicken ($10.99), which is marinated in a recipe developed at Cornell University and touted as "like the firemen cook."

    Like the wings, the Cornell chicken had beautifully crisped skin. The meat was moist and juicy. But the dish still came up a little short. The Cornell marinade is, by nature, mild. Ideally, though, it gives the chicken a little bit of a jolt from its cider vinegar. At Mo's, the marinade didn't reach beyond the skin, so when that was gone, the chicken pretty much lost its appeal.

    Mo's was offering a sampler the night we visited, and we took advantage so we could try three kinds of meat: the brisket, pulled pork and ribs, each of which can be ordered individually.

    The brisket was as tender as advertised and had the most natural flavor of the bunch. It had only a dash of barbecue sauce that didn't do much to liven it up.

    The pulled pork, meanwhile, isn't sauced, instead served with three bottles so customers can choose sweet, spicy or mild sauce. Our waitress accidentally brought three mild bottles, but she quickly replaced two with the spicy and sweet varieties. We went with the spicy, and it was so mild that we thought we too had grabbed the wrong bottle. It was nearly impossible to detect, adding nothing. The meat was tender and juicy, although it was mixed with a fair amount of fat.

    Fat was also an issue with the ribs, but the meat we did pull off was very good. Slathered in the sweet sauce, the ribs had a nice little kick and there was plenty of meat. Owner Kevin "Mo" Morris says on his website that everyone claims to have award-winning ribs. His haven't won anything ... yet, he notes. They definitely have potential.

    Dinners are served with two sides, which are $2.95 when ordered individually. We enjoyed all four sides, starting with the french fries, which were hot and crispy. Salt potatoes had just the right amount of salt and came with a generous pool of melted butter. Mac and cheese was impressive, managing to be not too heavy despite a generous amount of cheese. The applesauce was the night's big winner -- if it was socially acceptable, we would have licked the bowl thanks to the chunks of apple and swirls of cinnamon.

    Our friendly waitress stopped by often and was happy to chat. While she recommended the ribs and brisket, barbecue isn't all Mo's has to offer. Pizzas are served on a homemade sour dough crest, and the smell of a pie that passed our table was tempting.

    Diners can create their own starting at $7.99 for a 12-inch pie, with toppings costing $1.99. Specialty pizzas are also available, including BBQ beef (slow smoked beef, pizza sauce and mozzarella; $12.99 for 12 inches) and the Godfather (pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, sauce and mozzarella; $14.99 for 12 inches). There are also burgers and sandwiches on the menu, along with haddock.

Review From Mr. Creno [click to expand article]
By Michael Creno of Camillus, sent by IPhone
Review From Mr. Creno [click to hide article]
By Michael Creno of Camillus, sent by IPhone
  • Kevin,
    The deep fried turkey that you prepared for us was outstanding! It was a hit!
    I hope that you and your family had a good holiday and thank you again for the wonderful turkey.

"Take the Scenic Route Around Cayuga Lake" [click to expand article]
By Christine Smyczynski
"Take the Scenic Route Around Cayuga Lake" [click to hide article]
By Christine Smyczynski
  • The fall foliage is beckoning and gas prices have come down a bit. It’s the perfect time to take a scenic drive.

    One of our region’s more interesting drives is the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, an 87-mile route that circles Cayuga Lake in the heart of Finger Lakes wine country. A drive along this scenic route can take as little as three hours if you don’t stop at any of the attractions, to several days, if you explore all the sights along the way. There are numerous accommodations, including bed-and-breakfast inns, located along and near the byway.

    While you could pick up the byway at any point along its loop, the best place to begin when coming from the Buffalo area is just off New York State Thruway Exit 41, about a 90- minute drive from Buffalo. Head toward the 10,000-acre Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which is a major resting spot for migrating waterfowl. Since fall is migration time for waterfowl, it’s a great time to visit the preserve. Be sure to climb the observation tower for a better view of the grounds and take the 3z-mile wildlife drive, which circles the main pool of the nature preserve.

    Continue your journey by following Route 90 south down the east side of Cayuga Lake. When we revisited this route a few months ago, we passed an interesting BBQ place, Mo’s Pit BBQ in the Village of Cayuga, which we later learned is noted for smoked BBQ, chili, stew and ribs. Unfortunately, we were traveling early in the day and they hadn’t opened up for business yet; perhaps we will be able to sample their fare next time.

    About midway down the lake you’ll come to one of my favorite places, the Village of Aurora. Three years ago, my husband and I spent several days here when we celebrated our 25th anniversary. The village, which is home to Wells College, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A number of years ago Aurora was just one of the many sleepy, nondescript villages scattered throughout this region. Fortunately for the village, a philanthropic alumnus of Wells College, who made her fortune by designing the American Girls dolls, stepped in and gave back to the town that educated her. Funds were given to renovate the historic Aurora Inn, along with the entire downtown business district.

    Just north of the downtown area is the headquarters of MacKenzie-Childs pottery, which is sold in exclusive shops in New York, Palm Beach and Atlanta. In addition to a production facility, there is a large retail shop, along with an 1840’s farmhouse decorated completely with MacKenzie-Childs pottery and furnishings, which is open for tours.

    We stayed at the Aurora Inn, which overlooks the lake. Open year-round, it’s a beautiful and elegant spot for a romantic getaway weekend. The inn’s dining room is open to the public. There are also several more casual restaurants located in the village, along with some boutique shops. A few miles south of Aurora are a couple of wineries of note: Long Point and King Ferry, which are open daily for wine tasting and sales. If you like blush wine, be sure to sample King Ferry’s Saumon.

    The byway continues south toward Ithaca along Route 34B and Route 34. On our most recent trip to the region, we just drove through Ithaca. Maybe the next time we’re in the area, we’ll take the time to explore what the city has to offer. There are a number of attractions here that I’d like to visit, including several museums, numerous shops and restaurants. Ithaca is also known for its waterfalls. Several are located in the downtown area and more than 100 waterfalls are within 10 miles of downtown.

    Follow Route 89 up the west side of Cayuga Lake. About seven miles north of Ithaca is Taughannock Falls State Park, which has a 215-foot waterfall located within the park. To view the waterfall, take an easy 20- minute walk into the gorge from the park road. The park and gorge are especially pretty in the fall. In addition to the gorge, the park also has a shoreline along Cayuga Lake. Camping is available in the park through mid-October. However, a lovely Victorian bed-and-breakfast inn, Taughannock Farms Inn, located adjacent to the park, is open later in the season.

    As you continue your journey northward, you’ll pass more than a dozen wineries, which are part of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. The trail is the first organized and longest running wine trail in New York State. It started in the early 1980’s with just a handful of wineries and has grown to 16 wineries today. This year, the wine trail is celebrating its 25th season, so you’ll find commemorative items for sale at the winery gift shops.

    A number of the wineries are hosting harvest festivals and other special events throughout October. The entire wine trail will take part in the 15th annual Holiday Shopping Spree, Nov. 22-23 and Dec. 6-7.

    I especially enjoy wines from the Americana Vineyards, located just a few miles north of Taughannock Falls State Park. In addition to wine, they also have a large selection of gourmet foods and other gift items in their retail shop. Their Crystal Cafe serves gourmet sandwiches, soups and desserts.

    Some of the other wine trail members include Bellwether Hard Cider, the only hard cider producer on the trail; Hosmer Winery, noted for its Riesling and Cabernet Franc; and Knapp Winery, which has a restaurant overlooking the vineyards.

    The last winery you’ll see is along the scenic byway is Montezuma Winery, along Route 5 and 20, close to where your journey began. Montezuma is noted for its Cranberry Bog desert wine, one of my personal favorites.

    Take the New York State Thruway east to exit 41. Go south on Route 414, east on Route 318 and east on Route 5 & 20 to Route 90 south.

"Sizzlin Summer Fare...Barbecue Takes A Little Love" [click to expand article]
By Elizabeth Ryan, Citizen Newspaper
"Sizzlin Summer Fare...Barbecue Takes A Little Love" [click to hide article]
By Elizabeth Ryan, Citizen Newspaper
  • For those who prefer to let someone else do the cooking, a southern-style barbecue joint is just around the corner. On the rise overlooking Cayuga Lake, next to a decrepit wooden barn where swallows swoop and nest, Mo's Pit BBQ and Cowboy Cuisine in Cayuga looks like two double-wide trailers with an add on, painted red. the parking lot is crushed gravel and two blackened iron smokers pump the sweet apple and hickory smoke into the air, drawing diners inside for what their noses tells them will be delicious.

    More concerned with authentic food than fancy decor, owner Kevin Morrissey has left the place refreshingly humble, with a formica counter and half a dozen tables covered with plastic tablecloths. The result is worth the ride.

    Mo's roasts its meat for 12 hours in a rotisserie wood-fired smoker, then slices and pulls them into hearty sandwiches served on soft white rolls to soak up the homemade sauce. Labeled simply as No. 1 and No. 2 sauce, Mo's two levels of barbecue sauce are made from jalapenos grown out front and smoked out back. Homemade baked beans with smoked tomatoes, homemade lemonade and a chocolate Texas sheet cake round out the meal with flavors that complement the main event.

    And from the crispy smoky skin on the ribs to the roll of paper towels on the table, Mo's delivers the experience that barbecue embodies and a true grill master can achieve: uncomplicated food, a relaxed atmosphere and the taste and smell of summer.