Place of origin
Region or state
|Binghamton, New York|
|Creator(s)||Camillo Iacovelli, Agostino Iacovelli, Peter Sharak|
|Cubes of marinated chicken, pork, lamb, veal, venison or beef|
The spiedie // is a sandwich local to Endicott, NY in the Southern Tier of New York State, and somewhat more broadly known and enjoyed throughout Central New York. A spiedie consists of cubes of chicken, pork, lamb, veal, venison or beef. The meat cubes are marinated overnight or longer (sometimes for as long as two weeks under a controlled environment) in a special marinade, then grilled on spits (if steel skewers are used, they are called "spiedie rods") over a charcoal pit.
The traditional method involves serving freshly prepared cubes of lamb, chicken, or beef on soft Italian bread, and occasionally drizzled with fresh marinade. However, it is common to find them served on a submarine roll, and chicken is now the meat of choice due to cost. The bread is used as an oven glove to grip the meat while the skewer is removed. Spiedie meat cubes can also be eaten straight off the skewer or can be served in salads, stir fries, and a number of other dishes. The marinade recipe varies, usually involving olive oil, vinegar, and a variety of Italian spices and fresh mint.
Spiedies have been celebrated at the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally in Binghamton, New York every August since 1983. The annual event includes a spiedie cook-off in search of the best spiedie recipes. The spiedie and the Spiedie Fest were featured on an episode of The Food Network's Unwrapped.
Commercial marinades are available regionally and can be ordered from various internet websites for shipment throughout the world.
The term "spiedie" comes from the Italian spiedo meaning spit or spiedini referring to cubes or balls of meat cooked on a skewer. The regional dish in Abruzzo, Italy most closely resembling spiedie uses goat meat, lamb, chicken or beef on a skewer, and is known as spidducc'. Another regional dish from Sicily, zúzzu, consists of a gelatinous sausage made from the cartilage of pork and beef meat that is usually served cut into cubes.
The original idea for spiedie was brought by Italian immigrants to upstate New York in the early 1920s. The specific origin of the spiedie is disputed. Traditionally, the early Broome County spiedie was made only from spring lamb, but currently most commercial restaurants prepare spiedie using chicken or pork. The "chicken category" was added to the Spiedie Fest cook-off in 1987, and quickly became the most popular meat choice.
Camillo Iacovelli created the spiedie in Endwell, N.Y., but his brother Agostino "Augie" Iacovelli and Peter Sharak popularized spiedies, Iacovelli in his Endicott restaurant, and Sharak at Sharky's Bar and Grill in Binghamton.
Augie Iacovelli began serving spiedie sandwiches in 1939 when he opened Augie's, his first restaurant. He emigrated from Abruzzo, Italy (Civitella Casanova) at the age of 25 in 1923. His son Guido continued in the spiedie business into the 1990s, owning as many as 26 restaurants at the peak of his career.
Iacovelli's marinade, which he called "zuzu", originally was made simply from wine vinegar, water, lemon juice, garlic and mint. Italian spices, olive oil, and minced onion were added later as regional tastes and the choice of meat began to vary.
Sharak is also alleged to have invented spiedies. Apparently, patrons of Sharkey’s were served lamb straight from the grill on a metal skewer with slices of bread. At the original Sharkey's on Glenwood Avenue, the spiedies are preceded, accompanied and followed by copious amounts of beer. Sharkey's promotes itself as the birthplace of the sandwich in television commercials across the greater Binghamton area.
Though the issue is disputed, Sharkey’s began serving spiedies in 1947, which makes Iacovelli more likely to have invented the dish first.
Growth in Popularity (1950–1990)
Through the 1960s and 1970s, spiedies also became popular with the families of deer hunters, since venison has a strong game quality and is similar to lamb. Many local families made their own marinade and enjoyed the wild game as a delicacy cooked on backyard grills.
In 1975, Rob Salamida became the first person to bottle the sauce and sell it. He began by cooking spiedies outside a local tavern at 16. After writing letters for over a year, he was allowed to have his own booth at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York. For 12 years he built his reputation at the fair. After a tornado nearly struck his stand in 1975, he decided it would be more lucrative and safer to bottle a spiedie marinade. Today, Salamida's Original State Fair Spiedie Sauce is the highest selling spiedie marinade.
Through the 1980s, Danny "Moonbeam" (a local flat-track dirt motorcycle racing star) furthered the popularity of spiedies by selling them from porches of local bars at night in order to finance his motorcycle racing hobby. Lori Vesely featured spiedies straight off the grill at The Endwell Pub. Pork was especially good for long grilling times, making the bar spiedie a favorite of both staff and customers.
In 1983, a few families got together and held a Spiedie Fest that was a tremendous hit. Coupled with a Balloon Rally, it quickly grew to an annual festival attracting more than 100,000 attendees (and also one of the top balloon rallies in the country).
Availability in Upstate Region
One of the restaurants currently most famous for spiedies, Lupo's Char-Pit, was established in 1967 by John, Sam, and Bart Lupo in Endwell. Spiedies became a primary component of their menu in the 1980s.
There are many restaurants in the Southern Tier that specialize in spiedies: Lupo's Char-Pit, Lupo's S&S Char Pit, Sharkey's Restaurant, and Spiedie and Rib Pit are some of the more well known. Spiedies are also featured by several vendors at the annual New York State Fair.
Availability Outside of New York
- Bada Bing Cheesesteaks & Spiedies (Arlington, VA) is a gourmet food truck that offers chicken and pork spiedies on a hoagie roll in six different unique styles.
- Spiedie Zone (Atlanta, GA), owned by Binghamton native Dana Carney, claims to be "Atlanta's one and only spiedie food truck" and lists five different flavors of spiedies, all grilled on site.
- Dantanna's (Atlanta, GA) listed the "spiedie grill" as a menu item in the past, although the current menu does not include spiedies.
- Angry Dog (Dallas, TX) serves chicken and pork spiedies on a hoagie roll. The sandwich is listed as "the Texas version of a Binghamton, New York classic".
- Roma's Italian (Cary, NC), named after Jim Roma's Bakery in Endicott, serves chicken and pork spiedies. They are also well known for carrying Lupo's Spiedie Marinade by the bottle.
- Dilworth Neighborhood Grille (Charlotte, NC), owned by an Endicott native, serves chicken and steak spiedies on an Italian hoagie roll. They also offer a 12" chicken spiedie pizza and a Buffalo chicken spiedie pizza. Their menu defines the spiedie as "a dish local to Greater Binghamton and the Southern Tier".
- Zio Casual Italian (Charlotte, NC) serves a shrimp and spiedie salad and beef spiedies as an appetizer. The latter are available as an add-on to any other salad as well. The spiedie is credited as popular in owner Jim Consol's Central New York hometown of Endicott.
- Serena Sicilian Influenced Gastropub (Durham, NC) and Serena Sicilian Influenced Cucina (Raleigh, NC) serve grilled chicken spiedie skewers and "Endicott, NY style Chicken Spiedies" sandwiches, and lists chicken spiedies as an available topping on their homemade pasta dishes. The owner of Serena, Giuseppe Cataldo, is the son of the founders of Tony's Pizza in Endicott, NY.
- Johnny V's Italian Restaurant (Louisville, Kentucky) serves spiedie sandwiches in chicken, pork, and beef as well as various chicken spiedie salads.
- Joey Garlic's (Newington, CT) featured a chicken spiedie grinder in the past. although they are not listed on the current menu.
- Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeastern US - Spiedie
- "Spiedie Sandwich History". Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- "The Spiedie - a "Tasty Morsel"". Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- "The Spiedies of Binghamton in New York, USA". Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- "Spiedie.com". Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- http://www.badabingdc.com www.badabingdc.com Bada Bing Cheesesteaks & Spiedies
- http://www.spiediezone.com www.spiediezone.com Spiedie Zone
- http://www.dantannas.com www.dantannas.com Dantanna's
- http://www.angrydog.com www.angrydog.com Angry Dog
- http://www.dilworthgrille.com www.dilworthgrille.com Dilworth Neighborhood Grille
- http://www.ziocharlotte.com/ordereze/Content/3/Summary.aspx Zio Casual Italian
- http://www.serena-rtp.com/ www.serena-rtp.com Serena Sicilian Influenced Cucina
- http://serena-rtp.com/rtp/about/ Serena Sicilian Influenced Cucina - About
- http://www.johnnyvsoflouisville.com www.johnnyvsoflouisville.com Johnny V's Italian Restaurant
- http://www.joeygarlics.com www.joeygarlics.com Joey Garlic's
- http://www.santarpiospizza.com www.santarpiospizza.com Santarpio's Pizza