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Buffalo restaurant gets pig roaster out to lure Thursday basketball break crowd

Pasta at osteria 166

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

If you happened to run a restaurant located within a block or two of six hotels in downtown Buffalo, and you wanted to attract attention from hungry diners, you could try a number of things.

You could buy advertising, which might reach the eyes of hotel guests, or not. You could rent a searchlight rig to swivel the night away in front of your place like a movie premiere, but that does nothing for the daylight crowds in town for the big event.

Or, you could roast a pig on a spit outside your place, letting its aroma waft through the neighborhood to tickle the fancy of hungry carnivores. 

That's what Nick Pitillo, who runs Osteria 166 (166 Franklin St., 858-3118) with his wife Kendra, is doing tomorrow. Then he's serving roasted local pork seasoned with Italian spices - garlic, fennel, rosemary - as the centerpiece of a 4:30 p.m. buffet aimed at basketball fans looking for a break.

There's also a pig Friday, and Saturday. The Saturday break time hasn't been set yet, but whenever it is, a pig will be waiting, Pitillo said. The buffet is Thursday and Saturday breaks only.

For $20 it's roast pork, flatiron pizzas, salads, antipasti, house pastas, etc. The sweet pork breeze? That's free.

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Buffalo restaurant loads March Madness menu with UConn cod cakes, duck a l'Orange

March Madness menu at Coco 888 Main St Buffalo NY

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

March Madness started early for Buffalo restaurateurs determined to harvest their share of customers during the quadrennial salmon run of free-spending basketball fans. 

Here's one clever idea: matching dishes to teams, and seeing who's on the menu by the weekend. UConn cod cakes, duck a l'Orange, and Villa Nova are just the beginning. It's at Coco, 888 Main St., 332-1885. Some restaurant kitchens couldn't cover this kind of spread, but Coco's is a pretty safe bet.

Owner Maura Crawford said she came up with the idea last night while her husband was filling out his bracket. As teams get knocked out, the dish gets removed from the next day's offerings. "I didn't order much calamari," Crawford revealed. "I think we'll be selling cod cakes, duck and steak through till Saturday, for sure."

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Enjoy St. Joseph's Table, a Sicilian feast, in Western New York next week

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The Sicilian custom of St. Joseph's Table can be anyone's custom, as long as they like fish. The meatless buffet dinner, offered in honor of the man held to be Jesus' guardian, has deep roots in Western New York. Here's a few of the places where it's available next week.

Gigi's Cucina Povera, 981 Kenmore Avenue, Kenmore, 877-8788, 2 p.m.-8 p.m. March 18-20. Reservations suggested, $17.95. 

Tappo, 338 Ellicott St., 259-8130, reservations suggested. Two-hour seatings available at noon, 2, 4 and 8 p.m. (6 p.m. is booked.) March 19. $20, benefits Per Niente. 

Banchetti Banquet Facility, 550 N. French Road, Amherst. March 16 and 19, starting at 4 p.m. Reservations suggested. $18.95 adults, $8.95 children.

Frank's Sunny Italy, 2491 Delaware Ave., 876-5449, 1 p.m.-8 p.m. March 19. No fee, donations to Catholic Charities accepted.

Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar, 253 Allen St., 240-9359, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. March 19. $25, benefits scholarship fund at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute.

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How's this for a Buffalo cabin fever cure: beer, burritos and free live Irish bands

Lloyd's El Gordo gets the green sauce

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The Lloyd taco truck's El Gordo burrito will be sportin' a bit o' the green tonight at Larkinville.

That's chimi sauce being loving applied in that photograph above, and yes those are tender-crispy cubes of pork, but that's one of 100 flavors on offer tonight. A fleet of 19 food trucks, most kept from selling their wares during Polar Vortex 2: Thundersnow, will be looking to do business as the St. Patrick's Day weekend heats up. 

There will be music, from the likes of McCarthyizm, Crikwater and the Greater Buffalo Firefighters Pipes & Drums. The beer and the food you'll have to buy, but the experience is free. If that don't get you out of your igloo, what will?

It's 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at 745 Seneca St. Details here.

If you get bored you can always look across Swan Street and imagine a night of shuffleboard and experimental beer in the Hydraulic Hearth beer garden this summer.

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Hydraulic Hearth, Harry Zemsky's Larkinville restaurant, to offer brick-oven pizza, experimental beer

Hydraulic hearth 2

Above: The former Swan Lounge is expected to become Hydraulic Hearth this summer. Photos: Harry Zemsky.

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

This summer, Larkinville should welcome its newest attraction: The Hydraulic Hearth, in the old Swan Lounge building, 716 Swan St., across from Larkin Square.

Harry Zemsky, son of Buffalo developer Howard Zemsky, will run the restaurant as part of his family’s Larkinville redevelopment project. He hopes to open mid-summer, if all goes well.

“Back in the day, the hearth used to be the center of a community. People from the neighborhood would come together to share a communal hearth,” Zemsky said. “That represents what we’re trying to do in Larkinville, where we’re trying to rebuild a community. So, Hydraulic Hearth.”

The brick oven pizza restaurant will bear the name of its neighborhood, shaped 150 years ago by the textile industry’s energy source, water.

Amid a number of interesting features Harry Zemsky described - shuffleboard courts, a beer garden and a dedicated parking spot for a food truck - the restaurant aims to harness Buffalo’s new power source: beer.

Continue reading "Hydraulic Hearth, Harry Zemsky's Larkinville restaurant, to offer brick-oven pizza, experimental beer" »

Last chance to vote Buffalo's own Lloyd taco truck as America's best food truck taco

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

You can find more taco trucks in plenty of U.S. cities, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more passionate city of eaters than Buffalo.

Maybe that's why Lloyd taco truck is among the leaders in a national poll aiming to name America's best food truck taco for 2014. The poll ends tomorrow, at midnight Central time.

As this is written, Lloyd is leading the poll by a few dozen votes. If you haven't voted yet, your time is running out.

Here's the poll page, if you're so inclined.

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Local Restaurant Week, over 125 WNY places with $20.14 meals, starting March 31

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Get your reservations now: the spring 2014 edition of Local Restaurant Week starts March 31.

Through April 6, more than 125 locally owned restaurants in Western New York offer $20.14 meals to give new customers a reason to come in, and to reward regulars.

Depending on the level of service and cuisine, that $20.14 can get you dinner for two, or one entree and a glass of wine.

Check out the list of participating restaurants, and details on their specials, at

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First bite: Housemade pierogis, kielbasa from Betty Crockski, Buffalo's Polish food truck


By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Ben Tsujimoto from went to the Adam Mickiewicz Library last week to get a taste of Betty Crockski, Buffalo's new food truck featuring housemade pierogis and kielbasa.

Here's his report, in words and pictures.

If those pictures make you hungry, consider that Betty Crockski is scheduled to join 18 other food trucks at Live at O'Larkin on Friday. Here's more details on that event.

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After shoveling, we eat: Event brings 19 food trucks to Larkin Square on Friday

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

For all of the variety they’ve brought to the Western New York eating landscape, the drawbacks of food trucks remain. Brick-and-mortar restaurants don’t close because of minus-12 wind chills or failing transmissions. Tracking one down can be frustrating.

That’s one of the reasons the weekly summertime food truck rodeo at Larkin Square drew such crowds last year. On Friday, the food truck roundup is back.

Nineteen will line up as part of the pre-St. Patrick’s Day festivities at the second annual Live at O’Larkin event from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at 745 Seneca St.

There will be music, from the likes of McCarthyizm, Crikwater and the Greater Buffalo Firefighters Pipes & Drums. And there will be food, from falafel to barbecue, from arancini to pad thai.

One of the standout dishes guaranteed for the O’Larkin event is the El Gordo burrito, from Lloyd the taco truck.

It’s built around chicharrones-like crispy fried pork nuggets, combined with a sharp, feta-like cow’s milk cheese called cotija.

Instead of using the traditional pig skin to make chicharrones, Lloyd trims the fat caps – and about a half inch of meat – off the hormone-free, antibiotic free pork shoulders used to make other fillings. Those slabs are roasted over low heat for eight hours, to render fat out and make the meat tender, said Chris Dorsaneo, Lloyd chef-owner.

They are cooled overnight, and cubed. On the truck, they’re fried to crisp them up, then tossed with Lloyd’s salsa roja, made of ancho chiles, tomatillos and more. That goes onto a flour shell, topped with fresh cilantro, chopped onion and cotija. Cost is $7.89.

“It’s probably our most street-authentic item,” Dorsaneo said. “It’s like a Mexican chicken wing, actually. I think that’s why people like it so much.”

Other trucks appearing include Black Market Food Truck, Hot Off the Press, Cheesy Chick, Betty Crockski, Fally Mac, R&R BBQ, Thai Me Up, Pizza Amore, Rolling Joe, Gelato Gypsy, DaBlue, Roaming Buffalo, Sweet Hearth, Whole Hog, Frank, House of Munch, Amy’s Place and Knight Slider.

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Local food blogger tries the menudo at Agave, new Mexican restaurant on Elmwood Ave.

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Michael Chelus, who blogs as The Nittany Epicurean, stopped by Agave (765 Elmwood Ave.,887-2933) to sample some of the less gringo-centric dishes. This is a guy who's willing to drive to Medina, or even Canandaigua, in search of authentic Mexican delights. 

He tried the menudo, which is tripe soup in chile broth, only available on weekends, and some al pastor tacos, pork with pineapple. Check out his words and pictures here.

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