Comfort Food is a Must-Eat During the Winter Months
Winter means it’s time for layers – and in the quaint village of Mount Morris, there’s more than one good way to achieve that. Right on Main Street is one of Livingston County’s most beloved Italian dinner destinations: Questa Lasagna, a charming storefront eatery that serves homemade variations on the layered pasta dish. “Our name literally means ‘this lasagna,’ in Italian,” said owner, Tim Knowles. “We had seven different kinds of lasagna when we opened in 2010 – it’s an incredible food, very versatile and I had bantered about this concept with a chef friend of mine for years.”
Knowles, a Brockport native, trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and worked as a chef for many years – primarily for hotels and independent restaurants in Rochester and the Finger Lakes – before meeting Brooklyn developer Greg O’Connell, who was buying up properties on Main Street in Mount Morris, revitalizing the entire town to make it a destination for Finger Lakes tourists. A friend then introduced Knowles to the Livingston County Economic Development team who helped get the business up and running.
“Mount Morris wasn’t high traffic at the time, compared to something like Monroe Avenue in Rochester,” said Knowles. “But I talked to Greg about his vision to rehab the building, and fortuitously for me, it turned out to be an interesting and successful spot.”
Part of that is due to the fact that Questa Lasagna is located less than one mile from the main entrance of Letchworth Park, which draws tens of thousands of visitors year-round. Questa Lasagna opened first, followed shortly after by a tearoom, more dining options, and several antique stores. Knowles was also involved in Zeppo’s Creekside Creamery, which serves up handcrafted ice cream for the hiking masses.
At first, Knowles thought counter service would be most successful. He began by offering blended seating and takeout, in a fast-casual style that was ahead of its time, but soon realized that his guests wanted to stay and enjoy the cuisine in-house. So, he pivoted, eventually purchasing the adjacent building to add more square footage to the dining room.
“They wanted full-service Italian, so we slowly morphed into that,” said Knowles. “Over the years I’ve continued to listen to what people want and apply my approach.”
His approach includes no freezers, no fryers, and a rotating menu of fresh entrees. He’s expanded a bit beyond the original seven lasagnas – but not too far, as the menu is still primarily pasta dishes.
His current must-try suggestion is a shrimp gnocchi entree, made possible by a new gnocchi pasta cutter that Knowles is especially fond of.
“I use delicious shrimp with these really beautiful tomatoes, and it’s a dish that’s unique to us – really sort of a standout,” he said. “But no matter what you order, everything that comes to your table will have been produced fresh by us.”
He leads a team of anywhere between eight to 12, depending on the day. The pandemic shutdown affected the way Knowles operates the business, so he’s now open just five nights per week for dinner. The space has been redesigned as well – guests who haven’t visited since the pandemic will find more plants adorning the dining room and fewer white tablecloth-draped tables.
“It’s smaller, which is good for me,” said Knowles. “I’m getting older - 68 this year - and this is physically demanding. I’m trying to have a life compromise where I can still do my job and not have it knock me out.” Knowles is certainly not done serving up pasta to the many adventurers and regulars who cross Questa Lasagna’s threshold each year – and he’s proud to be part of revitalizing Mount Morris to its current day bustle.
“As I like to tell people – being in the middle of ‘nowhere’ really means you’re in the middle of everything,” he said. “People come here from all over; a quarter of my guests each summer are from Canada. We may be in this provincial little village but they find their way to us. I’m happy to be here, and I’ll do it as long as I can.”
More Spots for Comfort Food
During the long winter months, we start seeking comfort in something that LivCo does best, food. In this region, the Genesee River Valley is home to locally-owned restaurants that are dedicated to serving us the tastiest foods that will warm us up inside and out. Check out these spots to indulge in comfort food this winter.
Cozy KitchenBack to Top of List
Caledonia, New York
Chef Chris Green’s inviting eatery will celebrate 25 years in operation in 2023. Visit for breakfast or lunch, and be sure to try the delicious soup and sandwich specials.
Rancho ViejoBack to Top of List
Geneseo, New York
The brightly-hued aesthetic, authentic Mexican cuisine and margaritas are perfect for winter days when you’re craving a mini vaca. Visit this local chain’s locations in Gates, Geneseo, and Batavia.
Click Here to Explore Rancho Viejo
Caffé TazzaBack to Top of List
Dansville, New York
With the tagline ‘wood & wine,’ this neighborhood spot is equal parts wine bar and Italian restaurant (think wood-fired pizzas, craft cocktails, and classic pasta dishes). Because it’s a neighborhood go-to, 60-cent wing nights and adventurous dinner specials are also on the docket.
Euro CafeBack to Top of List
Geneseo, New York
Best friends Krystyna and Margaret run this Polish café and deli, which offers both takeout and seated dining. Favorite dishes include the hearty homemade potato pancakes and pierogies, along with rotating Eastern European soups, spirits and specials.
Borikén RestaurantBack to Top of List
Mount Morris, New York
Visit Boriken for fresh, homemade, authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Enjoy a taste of the tropics with a variety of small plates meant to be shared with friends including rellenos de papa, ceviche de camarones, stuffed mofongo, and carne frita. Borikén has quickly become a local favorite for hearty eats and tasty cocktails.
Click Here to Explore Borikén Restaurant
Cooperativa Las CazuelasBack to Top of List
Geneseo, New York
Although not a restaurant, Cooperativa Las Cazuelas is creating comfort food and building a space for entrepreneurial immigrant women. They host Mexican food pop-ups out of St. Michael's Church in Geneseo making tamales, salsa, rice, candied squash, and more. Locals and visitors can buy comforting, homey food without having to make it themselves.
Click Here to Explore Cooperativa Las Cazuelas