Oswego sports-focused eatery swings its swing
By Christopher Malone
Although the weather as in March is still on the chilly side for Central New York (no surprise here), comfort food and sports are year-round and never have an off-season. Neither does The Press Box in the 39 years it’s been in operation on East First Street in Oswego.
The sports pub has a comfortable atmosphere. There are plenty of TV sets, including personal screens at the booths around the dining area. Of course, there is sports décor scattered throughout — including a front-page paper celebrating Syracuse University men’s basketball team’s 2003 NCAA Championship and a Rocky Marciano poster — but not overwhelmingly.
The menu is straightforward as well.
The Press Box’s two-sided menu boasts a lot of familiar favorites for any sports pub. Do they hold up — or should they be benched?
The deep red sudden death chili ($6.99) is not apologizing for anything. To go along with the sports theme of The Press Box, the name sounds more intimidating than the do-or-die, nail biting, knuckle clenching endgame of a sporting event — as well as the chili itself. But the moment may stick with you.
The hearty chili is chock full of red beans, peppers, onions and seasoning. There is a nice kick to the bowl of the southwest concoction, but not overwhelming. It makes its presence known, is confident and is insistent (not rude) about this is the way it should be.
I had the chili covered with a blanket of melted cheddar cheese for a dollar upcharge, which I saw later, when the bill was presented. The cheese covered the rim of the bowl and chili with precision of a French onion order. A chili needs some sharp, gooey cheese.
The chicken pesto panini ($13.99) came out next. Between the grill-pressed crispy halves of ciabatta bread sat pesto, roasted red peppers, chicken and mozzarella cheese. The mozzarella stretched with each bite, joining the light pesto.
The panini came with a dill pickle spear and a handful of rippled chips. Aside from the satisfying sandwich, especially since there was actual chicken breast and not deli meat in the mix of things, the size of the portion did seem a little light for the price of the option.
What’s the point of hitting up a sports bar without getting pizza and wings? The wings come in two styles — traditional ($12.99) and boneless for a dollar less. Being a fan of traditional, I ordered them hot barbecue style. The lightly sauced barbecue wings featured cayenne pepper to kick it up a notch.
There were only eight wings in the order but they were meaty. They also boasted a slight crispiness, which was a pleasant surprise, and were not dry.
Aside from daily specials, The Press Box boasts weekly specials, allowing new and returning patrons delicious options and a larger window of opportunity to order and enjoy something not typically seen on the menu. For this particular week, the pear and arugula pizza ($13.99) was in the spotlight.
The enticing pizza, which initially jumped out at me, left me impartial toward it, which is why this is saved for last. For the sake of ingredients, I’m always down for pears and arugula, but also the other ingredients — goat cheese, balsamic figs, and caramelized onions. All the ingredients were abundant, fresh tasting and visually bright. The flavor combination of everything was out of the ballpark.
Unfortunately, all the ingredients add up to be weighty for the very thin flatbread. Where it’s great to know the flatbread isn’t a store-bought crust, it’s rolled out pretty thin and baked lightly. There’s no cheese holding the ingredients in place and a lot of time is spent picking up spillage.
After throwing a beer draft ($5.50) in, the bill came to just less than $59.
It may have not been a home run, but The Press Box gets on base. The Oswego staple and friendly staff caters to different palates and people of all ages — including my 8-month-old.
The Press Box
29 E. First St., Oswego, NY 13126
Daily: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Top image: Pear and arugula pizza was in the spotlight special when I visited.