Nick's Picks: Steadfast
I came to Steadfast for a sandwich, as one does on one’s lunch break.
You might also come for a sandwich, or maybe a tempura shrimp salad, or a Fizz cocktail; perhaps you’re there just to pick up a pound of coffee beans, or take notes at a work meeting.
Steadfast, with its diverse menu and multipurpose space, is not easily defined.
While its primary functions are as restaurant and bar, owners Nick Garofoli and Chuck Previte plan on making this location at 200 East Avenue a community hub with a small general store for unique products, a multi-use communal room, and a warm, inviting atmosphere.
“We want to be here awhile, we want to be a staple.” says Previte.
Newly opened in the space where Matthew’s East End grill operated for fourteen years before closing in 2017, Steadfast is broken down into a small outdoor patio, a twelve seat back room, a 57 seat dining room, and a twenty-four seat bar area, with a partition dividing the bar and dining rooms. The interior is decorated with wooden tables, yellow metal chairs, exposed brick walls, a turquoise ceiling and brightly-colored decorations. Steadfast’s open floor plan and vibrant color scheme creates a radiant, energetic environment.
Garofoli, a restaurant consultant and manager, was introduced to Previte, a classically trained chef with experiences in Italy, New York City and the Cub Room, by a mutual friend in September 2017. The pair instantly realized a shared philosophy and vision for a new venture that would fit into the Rochester community and expose its residents to regional and global cuisines through laid back presentation.
“My goal in opening this restaurant is to help people understand food,” says Previte. “I want people to be able to explore here.”
Previte’s desire to expose diners to new cuisine is made possible with a sandwich-centric menu.
“A lot of people don’t know food from around the world and I think we bring it in fun little pops rather than a pretentious massive meal with seven courses.” says Previte.
This idea of international fare presented in a familiar format is apparent in Steadfast’s cheddar, provolone, and fontina grilled cheese, which can be made in the South African braaibroodjie style.
“The braaibroodjie is essentially a grilled cheese sandwich with pulled pork and apricot chutney,” says Garofoli. “So chutney is maybe the one word people haven’t heard before but other than that it’s a comfort food that people are familiar with and we’re just bringing the South African version to Rochester as best as we can.”
Another global favorite on Steadfast’s menu is the cemita poblano. This sandwich from Puebla, Mexico, features a juicy pork cutlet and ham with queso blanco, spicy chipotle sauce, onions, lettuce, and avocado. The freshness and quality of these ingredients shines through in each bite to make a flavorful, perfectly textured sandwich.
Garofoli and Previte’s backgrounds in different regions throughout the United States also show up on their menu. Steadfast’s OG Philly cheese steak and lobster roll are inspired by Garofoli’s time in both central New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia, and Massachusetts. Previte, who spent time playing baseball in New Orleans, is happy to bring the muffaleta, made with speck, salami, and mortadella, and the shrimp Po’ Boy to Rochester.
On the bar side, Steadfast’s beer and wine lists aim for balance in both taste and price. Everything from Genesee beers and rare IPA’s are featured among sixteen taps. The wine selections are modest with new world and European options for under $10 per glass.
Where Steadfast will make the biggest bar splash though, is with creations that use Southern Tier Spirits and Fizz soda to make unique twists on one in one cocktails. Rather than a basic vodka with Sprite, try a Southern Tier Vodka with Gassosa Italian Lemon Fizz. Instead of a whiskey and Coke, have a Southern Tier Rye Whiskey with Black Cherry Fizz.
The exact mixing of these cocktails is up to the customer’s discretion. A glass about 1/3 full of liquor is presented along with a twelve ounce bottle of Fizz. This service style makes the guest a mixologist, able to make their drink as strong or as weak as they prefer.
Still in its infancy, Steadfast continues to tweak its menu and service in order to achieve its goal of becoming an East End mainstay.
“I think it’s important in the short term for people to come in and tell us what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong, we want to listen,” says Garofoli. “In five years it’d be nice to be resigning our lease and thriving.”
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