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Agave restaurant to offer authentic Mexican tacos on Elmwood by mid-February

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

More good news for the winter-weary: a veteran Mexican restaurateur plans to offer authentic Mexican tacos and more on Elmwood Avenue by mid-February.

Sergio Mucino has been turning 765 Elmwood Ave., the former Blue Fin Asian Bistro, into Agave. It's smaller than his other Buffalo restaurant, Don Tequila on Allen Street, and will have a smaller menu, he said.

But that menu will include Mexican specialties not available in Buffalo now, including tacos al pastor (chile-marinated pork with pineapple) and soups like posole and menudo. There will also be more vegetarian offerings, like black beans, and vegan choices as well, Mucino said. 

The place will have about 50 seats and a full liquor license, he said.

Lots can stop a new place from opening, but mid-February is the target, he said.


Sabres fans propose dishes for (716) restaurant: Korab cakes, anyone?

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Executives of Sabres owner Terry Pegula's HarborCenter released a few details Wednesday about what the 20-story rink-school-hotel-restaurant-retail complex will feature.

There was lots of information about TV screens, including the 38-foot screen, the largest restaurant screen in the continental U.S. Nothing about the food, though.

Sabres fans on Twitter jumped in to fill the gap. "Korab cakes," suggested Mike Jafari, a WGR producer who also suggested "Hash-ek Browns."

Ben Tsujimoto of collected some of the best here.

Submit your own suggestions via email or on Twitter at #716menuitems.

Click here to see what people have come up with so far.


HarborCenter restaurant will be called (716)

(716) 1 theater

A rendering of (716) provided by HarborCenter. See a gallery of renderings here.

Details began to emerge Wednesday on the 13,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant that will be included in the HarborCenter hockey-hotel complex downtown. 

The restaurant, which project officials have said will include local culinary favorites and local ingredients, as well as the largest TV screen in Western New York, will be known as (716). Parentheses included.

At an afternoon press conference in First Niagara Center, (716) General Manager Dominic Verni said the name was chosen to resonate with Buffalonians.

“How often do we hear our friends say ‘back in the 716’ when returning home? Or ‘missing the 716’ when they’ve been away too long?” he said. “716 is synonymous with home, pride and fun. That’s Buffalo. That’s 716.”

“Our mission will be to provide the premier fan, food and sports destination as a key element to the overall HarborCenter experience.”

The two-story restaurant’s 38-foot video screen, visible from both floors, will be the biggest restaurant screen in the continental U.S., Verni said.

Details of the restaurant’s menu are “still in top secret mode.” Generally, Verni said, there will be signature dishes made from scratch, unique to (716).

(716) is expected to create about 150 jobs. It will seat about 360, including 135 bar stools.

The restaurant's walls will be decorated with graphics that tell the history of the numbers 7, 1 and 6 throughout the history of sports. Its bathrooms will feature mirrors that have TVs embedded within them. And, in addition to the 38-foot TV screen, there will be 55 more big-screen TVs throughout the restaurant.

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau

HarborCenter officials to offer details on massive restaurant next to FNC

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

HarborCenter, Terry Pegula’s hockey-hotel complex next to the First Niagara Center, has set a press conference at 3 p.m. to announce some details on its planned 13,000 square-foot restaurant.

Project officials have already said its menu will include local culinary favorites and local ingredients, three feature bars and a 36-foot television screen described as the largest in Western New York.


Chinese bakers from Brazil offer pies at Clarence's Eastern Hills Mall


By Andrew Z. Galarneau

One of the most unusual fast-serve restaurant concepts to show up recently has emerged in the food court at the Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence.

If I said it was Chinese cooks who grew up in Brazil, no one would blame you for expecting an exotic menu.

But Tom and Betty Chung’s specialty is right in the heart of down-home Americana: pies.

Piemania (4545 Transit Road, Clarence, 817-6702) serves up handmade pies in savory and sweet categories, boasting a buttery, flaky crust. (Photos courtesy of Piemania.)

The savory numbers, from beef and chicken pot pie, to spinach and cheese and Buffalo chicken, are $5.99 with a side salad.

Piemania (3)

Then there’s a shepherd’s pie ($6.99) with beef and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes.

Piemania (2)

The sweet choices range from apple ($4.99) to custard crumble ($3.50) and strawberry ($2.75).

Piemania 5

The Chungs left China in the 1960s during the Cultural Revolution and settled in Sao Paolo, Brazil, where they were raised, said Tiffany Huebel, their daughter. The came to the U.S. about 10 years ago, lived in Florida and California, and decided to settle in Buffalo because they like the cold, among other reasons, she said.

Her mother had dreamed for years of opening a pie store, Huebel said, and last year, she did. “Brazilians really enjoy pies with a light and flaky consistency, very much like the Europeans,” Huebel said.

The Chungs are considering two Brazilian treats for the menu, a pie-like pastry dish called empada, filled with chicken and a homemade Brazilian style “cream cheese,” and coxinha, a fried chicken fritter. At present those two items are special order only.

Piemania (1)




Fiamma Steak's rebirth as BOSS delayed until at least February

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

In December, Fiamma Steak (1735 Hertel Ave.) was planning to reopen as BOSS, a restaurant concentrating on steak and seafood.

But complications with the ownership change stopped the changeover, said Jason Briandi, Fiamma's food and beverage director. Work is continuing on the building, and the restaurant could be open again by the middle of February, he said.


Merge restaurant takes national honors for vegan 'chicken' wings

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

In the run-up to the Super Bowl, one of the most massive, all-American, all-consuming spectacles of chicken wings ever, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would like eaters to drop the drumette.

In furtherance of that goal, PETA has issued a press release proclaiming the Top 10 chicken-free chicken wings in the nation, featuring the vegan Frank’s Hot sauced “wings” at Buffalo’s Merge (439 Delaware Ave.,, 842-0600)  as No. 2.

(The top spot went to a Chicago Diner, a diner in Chicago that’s been “meat-free since ‘83.” Vegan diner. Hmmm.)

In both of the top two dishes, what replaced the meat? Could it be: seitan? Yes it was, wheat gluten, seasoned and sliced and fried before getting the cayenne and vinegar laced sauce.  

As it turns out I’ve long been a fan, writing about their seitan wings in December 2012. They're still just $7.

Merge offers lots of vegetarian and vegan options, but they can’t make everybody happy: there’s no way to make them gluten-free.


South Buffalo's English Pork Pie Co. adding authentic fish and chips joint

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

As the wind howls outside, there's this to look forward to in February: real British fish and chips, in South Buffalo.

In their ongoing efforts to cater to British cravings, Vicky and Damian Parker have announced plans to add an authentic "chippy" to the side of English Pork Pie Co., their South Buffalo pie factory (1176 South Park Ave., 823-3772).

According to its Facebook page:

Craving Fish and Chips, Pie and Chips or Cornish Pasty and Chips? 
Over the past month we have been working hard to meet those desires!
We have just imported a genuine Fish and Chip Shop all the way from Birmingham, UK. Where we aim to have a take out "Chippy" onsite ready to satisfy those cravings within the next couple of weeks. 

The Parkers have long offered warm, ready-to-eat pies and sausage rolls. This represents the first step towards restaurant offerings. It's not just fish, fries and pies, either. "Of course, A chippy wouldn't be a chippy without the Mushy Peas and Curry Sauce! We will also be carrying all the traditional fizzy drinks!" 

I'm not sure how many hardcore Anglophiles will show up. At least down by the Old First Ward, the Parkers know they'll find people who appreciate a crispy hunk of fried fish.


Elma's Blue Lantern Lounge starting Da Blue food truck Jan. 31

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Most of Western New York’s food trucks are launching culinary careers, but at Elma’s Blue Lantern Lounge, adding a food truck is just the best way to expand the business.

Owners Tom and Donna Pease expect to debut their Da Blue truck at Buffalo’s Larkin Square at lunchtime, Jan. 31, a Friday.

“Expanding our footprint at our current location just wasn’t an option due to the constraints the property presented.  A second location sounded good on paper but unfortunately, we couldn’t be in two places at one time,” said Tom Pease. “The need to be hands on and available to the customer led us to the decision to go mobile.”

The initial truck menu will range from cole slaw ($3) to a lobster cake sandwich ($10). It’ll include dishes the restaurant celebrates, including hand-dipped chicken strips ($6) and an Ellicottville Brewing Co. lager bratwurst with caramelized onion relish on a pretzel roll ($9).


Japanese restaurant Sato to bring ramen, more to Elmwood Village Jan. 28

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

New Japanese restaurant Sato (739 Elmwood Ave., 931-9146, has announced Tuesday, Jan. 28 as their opening date.

Sato will feature the cuisine of Satomi Smith, who plans to offer authentic Japanese ramen noodle soup, among other Japanese cuisine, in the space formerly occupied by O3.

Michael Chelus, a local food blogger at Nittany Epicurean, participated in a pre-opening tasting at Sato and shares his thoughts and pictures here


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