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Trattoria Aroma owner to open third location on North French Road in Amherst

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The Aroma Group of Italian restaurants plans to open its third location in March, on North French Road in Amherst.

To be called Aroma on North French, the new restaurant, seating about 120, will be located at 4840 North French Road, said owner Dave Cosentino.

Work is still under way, and there is no firm opening date yet, Cosentino said. “We’ve got a wine dinner planned on March 9, a reservations only dinner. We’re still laying kitchen tile, though.”

After the March 9 dinner, “we’re going to evaluate and determine what we have to do, what we have to fix, and when to open,” he said.

The menu will be similar to Trattoria Aroma locations on Bryant Street, and Main Street in Williamsville, he said.

So housemade pasta and brick oven pizza will be mainstays, plus dishes that are unique to the location, he said. “It’s going to be the same category and style of food, with some staple items in common among the three, but each chef will be able to come up with their own dishes.”  


Santora's Pizza taking over Frog Hair Grille restaurant site, planning June opening

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Santora’s Pizza Pub & Grill has leased the former Frog Hair Grille building on Transit Road in preparation for a June opening.

The company will close its present location at 7566 Transit Road, Amherst, and move half a mile north to 7800 Transit Road, said Scott Wexler, an owner.

It’ll have about 200 seats plus a banquet room that can hold about 120, he said. The present Transit Road location seats about 150.

Why bother moving? The new location will have better parking and easier access than the present spot, across from the Eastern Hills Mall, Wexler said. Frog Hair Grille closed in October.

(Hat tip to William Scheu.)


Restaurant horrors Part 1: The salad plate pyramid of doom

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

We've all had the restaurant horrors. Sitting at a table waiting for a plate of food, minding our own business, when an innocent glance falls upon something we cannot unsee.

We wish we could. We want to enjoy our meal, being carried to us by the same people who did the thing-we-can't-look-away-from. You can almost hear Anthony Bourdain say it: that's part of the food-handling process they let you see.

Well, these days people will take pictures, not just suffer silently. Here's one from a recent group meal served in Amherst.

Salad Law Violation Part I

I'm not going to name the place, because the point isn't shaming a server. The point is: this should never happen.

(Too subtle? Because the bottoms of the plates could carry germs, so they should not be in someone's lettuce.)

Chance that someone will actually get sick from that? Tiny, but health codes and food service rules are designed to protect everyone all the time.

Chance seeing that would have doomed my appetite? 100 percent. Then again, I'm the sensitive type.

If you see a restaurant horror, on your plate or off it, send me a photo at for possible publication.



Top Canadian chef offers Venetian wine dinner Feb. 21 in Niagara Falls, Ont.

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

If you’re looking for a little midwinter splurge, there’s a Venice-inspired dinner across the border on Feb. 21, headlined by Chef Massimo Capra.

Held at the Sheraton at the Falls, dinner with wine pairings is $125 per person; for $199 a person they’ll throw in a room. Those prices do not include tax or tip.

“The event will feature traditional Venetian cuisine flavours integrated with the Niagara Region's finest ingredients as well as wine pairings from Marchesi Armando Fumanelli himself who will be presenting the prestigious wines that his family has been producing since 1470,” a press release said. “Located north of Verona, the winery is known for the ageing of the classical Valpolicella wines.”

For more information:

The menu:

 That’s Amore: A Venetian inspired culinary experience

Tortelli di Baccala

First press olive oil, tomato concasse & fresh herbs

2007 Terso Bianco Veneto IGT

Continue reading "Top Canadian chef offers Venetian wine dinner Feb. 21 in Niagara Falls, Ont. " »

Black Market Food Truck, voted best in Buffalo, dishes up gourmet lunch at curbside

Black market food truck lunch 018

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

When the local food truck guide asked readers to vote for the year's best trucks, more than 3,000 people chimed in, and the winner was the Black Market Food Truck.

The other day the Black Market Food Truck parked next to First Niagara Center, and intrepid reporter Ben Tsujimoto sallied forth into the storm to perform lunch sherpa duties.

He brought back a pork banh mi ($8), a spicy mortadella sandwich ($9), mirca gosht ($5), which is lamb chili with Indian spices, and a dish of gnocchi in miso-chile butter ($8).

For how it went down, check out the photos and details after the jump:

Continue reading "Black Market Food Truck, voted best in Buffalo, dishes up gourmet lunch at curbside" »

TV show seeks local cooks who want to win food truck in Niagara Falls

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Who will win a food truck in Niagara Falls?

A Toronto casting company has invited local cooks to apply for a role in an upcoming Food Network competition.

The winner gets a food truck for a year. Even better, they get the brand recognition that comes from being on television.

“We’re looking for two-person teams who have never owned or worked on a food truck before, who dream of having one,” said Sergio Alvarado of The Brunch Store, a casting company. “The prize in each episode is a one-year lease.”

So far applicants have ranged from trained chefs to home cooks, lawyers, teachers and accountants, he said.    

Early in the show’s history, it’s not clear when it will air, or who the host will be. It would likely run on Food Network Canada as well.

“We’re doing five cities, and we’ve already started filming in Miami. Then we’re doing L.A., Austin and Toronto as well as one Niagara Falls episode.” It will include contestants from both sides of the border, as teams, vie in a Toronto studio and amid the tourist crowds in Niagara Falls, Ont.

The road to the Food Network starts with filling out an application, at, and sending a photo. Then there’s a phone screening. If they still like you, they’ll invite you to appear in person, on March 1. “We’ll bring a select few in for auditions in Niagara Falls,” Alvarado said.

If you don’t have a passport or an enhanced license, don’t bother.

The deadline is Feb. 27, but the earlier you apply the better. “We schedule as applications come in. People who apply last minute might not get a chance if all the spots are filled.”


Eoannou buys Ulrich's Tavern, Snooty Fox owner hopes to reopen it by mid-April

Ulrich’s Tavern is located near the Medical Campus’ Innovation Center and near several facilities that opened in the last decade for the University at Buffalo. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)


By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Ulrich’s Tavern, shuttered by bankruptcy, has been purchased by Tom Eoannou, the lawyer and preservationist who restored the North Park Theatre. Sal Buscaglia, owner of the Snooty Fox Lounge, is working toward reopening it as Ulrich’s 1868 Tavern by mid-April.

Continue reading "Eoannou buys Ulrich's Tavern, Snooty Fox owner hopes to reopen it by mid-April" »

East Aurora's Elm Street Bakery hires chef, adding wood-oven-centered dinner service

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Elm Street Bakery, the wood-oven-centered bread, pizza and confections operation in East Aurora, has hired a chef and plans to add evening dinner service.

Brad Rowell of Park Country Club started Feb. 11, tasked with the mission of developing appetizers and entrees that exploit the massive brick oven at the heart of the operation at 72 Elm St. (652-4720,

“We are going to keep the business as is, up to 5 p.m.,” said Jay DePerno, who owns the bakery with his wife Kim. “Our goal is to really elevate the evening offering, tying into the focus on local and seasonal, and to employ that brick oven to its full capacity. Right now we’re probably 25 percent there, in terms of what we can get out of it, types of food.”

Elm Street Bakery will be closed from Feb. 17 to Feb. 24 for winter break and oven work, reopening Feb. 25. After that, new dishes will be gradually introduced, he said.

The oven will still be making pizzas, DePerno said. Rowell will be developing appetizers and entrees in the $10-$20 range. “From roasting meats, to more vegetables, all kinds of different dishes,” he said. “More family style, seasonal plates that go along with our bread.”

All of Elm Street Bakery’s chicken, eggs, turkey, beef and pork is produced in Western New York. “As the seasons allow, we will get all of our produce,” DePerno said. “We’re still figuring out how to preserve the harvest.”

Evening service will be upgraded too, from counter to table service. “Not fine dining, but a high level of service. If you want to come in a buy a loaf of bread, there will still be someone at the counter. If you’re coming in to eat, you will be served.”

That won’t all take effect at once, he said. “Our hope is by the middle part of March, or certainly by April, it’s all up and running. We’re building it as we go.”



Nothing says 'I love you' like hard alcohol: Lockhouse vodka sale tomorrow

by Andrew Z. Galarneau

If you miss Brezhnev-era Moscow you should love Buffalo, where lining up for vodka has become a thing people do on a Saturday afternoon.*

There are 600 more bottles of Buffalo's own Lockhouse Distillery vodka going on sale at noon tomorrow. The line could be two hours long. At two $35 bottles per person, the vodka will probably run out before the line does. 

That's OK. It's a Buffalo thing now, generating coverage like this and like this, titled "Lockhouse Distillery Is the Coolest Damn Thing in Buffalo Right Now."

It's such a thing that it gets its own food truck: the Black Market Food Truck, recently voted Buffalo's best, will be on hand at 255 Great Arrow Avenue, No. 31, to feed the masses.

* I am reliably informed by multiple alert readers that although one did have to queue for toilet paper, one did not in fact have to line up for vodka. I stand corrected.



More national press kudos for Old Pink steak sandwich, Schwabl's beef on weck

Articles and asst 024

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Peter Meehan, a food writer and cookbook co-author with top Manhattan chef David Chang, also plays in a band called Spectre Folk. That brought him to Buffalo in October, when his band opened for Lee Ranaldo & the Dust.

One of Meehan's other gigs is as an editor of Lucky Peach, the hippest food publication in the nation, developed by Chang and Meehan. So it was a delight to open the Winter 2014 edition, devoted to street food, and see Meehan's appreciation for two Buffalo favorites.

All right, Schwabl's is in West Seneca. Whatever. Meehan wrote:

I think Buffalonians are tired of hearing the drum beaten for Schwabl's, which has operated in one form or another since 1837. But it is the only weck parlor that I visited that offered a range of beef doneness, and the only place where the gravy seemed like it was a byproduct of beef cookery, not of industrial manufacture.

The other place he mentions is the Old Pink (formally Allen Street Bar & Grill), and its standout sandwiches, both steak and bologna.

The steaks were cooked to temp, perfectly. The bologna was immaculately immolated. The sandwiches were late-night knockouts, made and served with evident care.

So yeah, you weren't the only one to notice.

It's never going to be online. because Lucky Peach doesn't do that. Issues of the magazine are $12, and well worth it, by the way.



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