Whole in the Wall Pesto

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Pesto, Perfected

Whole in the Wall’s homemade pesto is worth the hype

Whether you slather it on a sandwich, stir it into a soup or season scrambled eggs with it, there’s almost no wrong way to eat Whole in the Wall pesto, says Eliot Fiks, founder of the Binghamton restaurant with a national profile.

Fiks and two friends opened the Whole in the Wall restaurant in December 1980 in a century-old storefront. The menu featured a host of hearty natural foods, including homemade pesto. Soon patrons were clamoring for more and in 1994, Fiks began closing the Southside kitchen on Sundays to make huge batches of the savory herb spread. Today, Whole in the Wall sells seven varieties to 120 stores in 29 states, from New York to Florida and as far west as Nebraska.

Fiks says the secret to “The Best Pesto in the Universe” starts with fresh ingredients—no fillers, no dried herbs. “We don’t skimp on anything,” says Fiks, adding that in most commercial pestos, the first ingredient is oil. “With ours, the first ingredient is basil,” he says. “We’re also committed to making it ourselves.” That means processing weekly deliveries of 200 pounds of fresh basil and shipping out hundreds of frozen packages of pesto. Yet Fiks and his team still taste test each batch—from spinach parmesan to sun-dried tomato—with a spoon and pack boxes on the same restaurant tables where diners belly up during the week. “What makes us unusual is we’re distributed on a national scale,” says Fiks, “but we still make it ourselves.” —Aaron Munzer


This article originally appeared in our Fall 2010 issue. For a recipe using pesto, try this Oven-Roasted Haddock.

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