Syracuse restaurant makes return TV appearance as a Food Network favorite

Syracuse, N.Y. — Any restaurant could use a jolt of positive news while facing the challenges of Covid times. Pastabilities in Armory Square just got one.

It will be featured Friday in a return appearance on the Food Network with Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-in and Dives.”

The episode, which airs at 9 p.m. Friday, is part of a spin-off series called “America’s Favorites” for which Fieri and his son, Hunter, asked viewers to use videos to nominate their favorites from past “Triple D” episodes.

The family of David and Erin Hertweck of Liverpool nominated Pastabilities, at 311 S. Franklin St.

They sent Fieri a video (see below) in which their daughters, Lilia and Caraline, proclaim their love of Pasta’s famous Spicy Hot Tomato Oil. The “Hot Tom” was featured in the original “Triple D” segment on Pasta’s, which first aired on Dec, 17, 2012.

“One of the best things about living in Syracuse is a restaurant, our favorite, called Pastabilities,” Lilia Hertweck says in the video. They mention their favorite dishes: spaghetti and meatballs for Caraline and fettucine alfredo for Lilia.

Then Lilia pulls out a jar.

“But you know what my family all loves: Spicy Hot Tomato Oil!,” she says.

The girls, despite their young age, are fans of spicy food, their mother, Erin Hertweck, said. That may be due to the fact that David’s ancestry is part Korean.

“They’ve grown up eating Korean food, with lots of flavors and spices,” she said. “So they love that, and they love the spicy hot tomato oil.”

With David “directing,” the girls made the video almost completely in one “take,” Erin said.

The video caught the attention of the Fieris, and helped Pasta’s earn a spot on the upcoming episode.

“We’re so thankful that they thought of us,” Pastabilities owner Karyn Korteling said. “I don’t really know them. It’s so nice they took the time to do this and it’s something we can really use at a time like this.”

The episode, called “America’s Favorites: Global Greats” will include at least a portion of Lilia and Caraline’s video, plus clips from the 2012 episode and perhaps some parts of a Zoom call with Korteling. (She’s not exactly sure, because she hasn’t seen it yet.)

This will be the fourth episode in the America’s Favorites series. Pasta’s joins other restaurants featuring international flavors that are located in Alaska, Atlanta and San Diego.

And this is second time this year that Fieri has reconnected with a former Triple D-featured restaurant in Syracuse. In May, Armory Square’s Funk ‘n Waffles was included in a special takeout episode, marking its fourth Fieri/Food Network appearance.

Back in 2012, Fieri also featured several other local restaurants on Triple D. They included Eva’s European Sweets, Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub & Restaurant, Byblos Mediterranean Café, and the former Empire Brewing Co.

For Pasta’s, the new attention for the Spicy Hot Tomato Oil also comes at a good time: For the holidays, the Pasta’s Daily Bread shop across Franklin Street from the restaurant is featuring a special fresh-made “extra hot” version, Korteling said.

She credits Pasta’s 2012 appearance on “Triple D” for boosting sales of of the jarred Hot Tom.

And this year, despite, or maybe due to the pandemic, online sales are booming.

“It’s something that, for example, college students who’ve spent time here (in Syracuse) will order because they can’t get it anywhere else,” Korteling said.

Meanwhile, Pastabilities continues to cope with Covid and the recent declaration that puts its and most of the city in an “orange zone” due to infections spikes. That means no indoor dining.

So Pasta’s is offering curbside pick-up and has added delivery through services like DoorDash.

“It’s rough, but the (curbside pick-up) is humming along,” Korteling said. “We really learned a lot after the first time (in the spring) so now we’re able to make it work and keep things going.”

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Don Cazentre writes for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach him at [email protected], or follow him at NYup.com, on Twitter or Facebook.

Janelle B. Smith

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