Located in the Mt. Hope plaza on Mt. Hope Blvd, this unassuming, Genesee Bakery and Deli is a hidden gem. It is conveniently located near Strong Hospital and the University of Rochester. Nestled among a Chinese restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant, a pizzeria, and a Vietnamese restaurant, it’s almost lost among the United Nations of food options. In fact, I passed it by twice, and one of those times I was actually in the plaza. Perhaps more and better signage would help it stand out from the crowd. Even though it has been in business for almost 26 years, I wasn’t familiar with it.
Parking was quite convenient and plentiful, as I parked right in front of the door. Although the plaza is busy, there is a lot of turnover in parking, so just wait a minute or two for a spot.
Upon entering the family owned and operated Genesee Bakery and Deli, I had the distinct feeling of stepping back in time. The black and white framed photos on the walls, music from days gone by, and live potted plants cascading down the shelving behind the counter, all added to the nostalgic feel.
The front of the bakery is the shape of a narrow rectangle. The display cases and cash register line one wall and a few small tables and chairs line the opposite wall. A small partition at the end of the rectangle houses a counter with self-serve coffee, which also doubles as a partition to the back of the bakery.
Several display cases of varying lengths and heights are strung together, displaying their freshly baked sweets, including cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pies, filled pastries and a myriad of other tantalizing treats.
With only three small, two-seat tables available for dining in, it soon became clear that their main business is done via customer pick-up and take-out. Nonetheless, my lunch companion and I decided to enjoy our lunch there. Unfortunately, the tables and chairs were directly in the path of the front door, which meant that every time someone opened the door, we were treated to a cold February wind.
I was surprised by the amount of customer traffic in the bakery. Most customers were there to pick up lunch, but a few others simply stopped in for a sweet treat or a cup of hot coffee.
The informality of the lunch service was reinforced via the use of paper plates and plastic cutlery. I didn’t mind at all though, as ceramic plates and metal silverware would have seemed overkill for this neighborhood store.
Think of Genesee Bakery and Deli as a neighborhood establishment. In fact, I bumped into a high school friend while I was there. I won’t tell you how long ago I was in high school, but suffice to say that I hadn’t seen her in a long, long time!
The physical menu at the Genesee Bakery and Deli is modest and informal, but the offerings are anything but modest. The menu is printed on one sheet of green paper and is available on the deli counter. One side of the printed menu is dedicated to the deli offerings, while the other side highlights the bakery. In addition, the small front display window also shows daily specials on a white erase board.
From the deli, you can choose from hot and cold subs and sandwiches, and assorted freshly baked pastries (brownies, cakes, muffins, croissants, eclairs, scones, tarts, cupcakes, etc), cookies, kuchens and pies, most ranging in price from about $1.75 to $3.00 each. Subs range in price from $3.35 for a small sandwich or roll, to $4.85 for a medium sandwich, and $6.35 for a large sandwich. If you prefer your sub on a croissant or wrap, the price is $4.95. Pies are available in over a dozen varieties and are priced from $13.00 – $14.00 each.
You can also buy a few salads and sides, including a Garden Salad, Buffalo Chicken Tender Salad, Macaroni and Cheese, Soup, Stuffed Breads or combos of either soup and salad or soup and sandwich.
If you are interested in ordering from the bakery, you’ll have quite the selection from which to choose your delight. Party trays are available for breakfast, subs, pastries, cookies and brownies, and are designed to serve 10 or more people, and range in price from about $2-$3 per person. Cakes are available in six sizes, serving from 4 people to up to 70 people. And oh the cupcakes! Priced at only $1.75 each, they are the best value around. With dozens of flavors available, you’re sure to find one to please your particular taste. Finally, if you are in the market for a wedding cake or a stand of cupcakes for a wedding, give them a call for details of pricing and delivery information.
Their baked goods are also sold at all three Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters, coffee bars in Strong Memorial Hospital, and Connections Cafe in the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester.
A sign in the exterior entryway window advertised a few daily specials. The Fish Sandwich Special ($4.95) caught my eye. I ordered it on multi-grain roll, with lettuce and tomato. I also indulged in a side of Macaroni and Cheese ($3.95). A bottle of Sprite ($1.50) completed my lunch, all for under $11.
The fish was portioned generously, and it was well seasoned and battered. I liked that it was moist and flaky as well. It tasted like a mild whitefish, not too “fishy.” The multi-grain roll was fresh and soft.
It was the macaroni and cheese, however, which truly surprised me. It tasted homemade – no boxed mixes here! The silky smooth and creamy cheese coated the elbow macaroni with just the right consistency. Again, the portion was larger than I expected, and I savored every last bite of it.
Being in a bakery, I simply could not skip dessert. I indulged in a Chocolate-Hazelnut Cupcake. It was delicious! Admittedly, I don’t crave sweets, but this cupcake really hit the spot as an after-lunch treat. The chocolate cupcake was filled with a chocolate pudding center and was topped with a chocolate-hazelnut cream frosting, chocolate shavings and a hazelnut cookie stick. That’s a lot of chocolate! It was moist and delicate, as well as really delicious.
Next time, I will try their lemon pie. There were a few slices of it on the counter, quietly taunting me. I later found out through a friend that the lemon pie is one of their most popular and tasty treats.
I also purchased a loaf of fresh-baked Whole Grain Bread, which I took home. I sampled it over the next few days and found it good, but not especially memorable or outstanding in any way. It was a decent, average loaf of bread.
My lunch companion ordered an Egg and Olive Sandwich for her lunch. She was happy to have been given her choice of the type of olives and the type of bread. I thought about ordering it too, at first, because it reminded me of the egg and olive salad sandwiches my mom used to make. I never was able to recreate her recipe, and I rarely see it on restaurant or deli menus. So, when she ordered it, I made a mental note to give it a taste.
The Egg and Olive sandwich portion was larger than expected (a hallmark of this bakery, apparently). She raved about the sandwich, saying that it was delicious. She asserted, “I was observing Lent and it really hit the spot!” That’s quite a ringing endorsement. I tried a forkfull of the egg and olive salad and I have to agree that it was super tasty – almost as good as mom’s.
For dessert, my lunch companion sampled a few items, including a Chinese Marble Cookie and a Mock “Hostess” Cupcake, together totalling $2.30 – what a deal! She liked the Chinese Marble Cookie, noting that it was not too dry. However, it was the cupcake that got her attention. It was fashioned to look like a Hostess cupcake, complete with the white squiggly line of frosting on top, but that’s where the similarities end. This was no store-bought, assembly line cupcake! Moist and rich, I coveted this cupcake as she ate it. Yes, mine was good, but hers had childhood memories attached to it!
In addition to the owner, I counted three others working there on a busy Friday during lunchtime. The gentleman who took our order was kind and patient as we decided what we wanted. He granted my request for a receipt, even though he had to retrieve it from the long strip of register receipts. Also, when I ordered a loaf of freshly baked bread to take home, he happily asked if I would like it sliced. Although I declined, I thought it was a nice gesture.
Our food was ready in just a few minutes, which was surprising because it was so busy. Because there is no table service, we were not visited by a server, but the workers behind the counter were available if we needed anything, such as an extra plastic fork or napkins. We were met with a friendly greeting both upon our entrance and our exit.
I would recommend the Genesee Bakery and Deli if you are looking for a neighborhood place to get lunch and a sweet treat to go, or to pick up some confections for a party or get together. It’s not geared toward a sit-down meal, as the seating appeared to be more for those who are waiting for their “to go” orders. However, the sandwiches and desserts are high quality and a great value. You might even feel a bit of nostalgia as you look around the old fashioned bakery and deli.
If you go:
Genesee Bakery & Deli
1677 Mt. Hope Ave.
Rochester, NY 14620
Twitter: unable to find a Twitter account
Business Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:30 am – 6 pm, Sat: 8 am-2 pm
Cuisine: Bakery and Deli
Children’s Menu: No
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Requires Reservations: No
Table Service: Y es
Take Out: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
Parking: Free and plentiful in adjoining plaza lot
Valet Service: No
Bar Seating: No
Coat Check: No
Date opened: 1990
Date visited: Friday, February 27, 2015 (Lunch)