Welcome to Buffalo: an eating town with a hockey problem

As a North Buffalo native, I’m in the center of it all.  I am a regulation “foodie” and the BuffaloEats blog is bookmarked on my computer.

There are few things better than steak and eggs accompanied by a mimosa at a Sunday brunch at Pano’s, or having Pearl Street Grill and Brewery become the hub of sporting events or your friends’ 21st birthdays.

We even have our famous Anchor Bar in the airport. It should have a sign that says, “Welcome to Buffalo.”

The new food scene I’ve noticed popping up is in downtown Buffalo. I recently visited Osteria at Franklin Street (right by the Statler Hotel) and Tappo on Ellicott Street.

Though they’re both marketed as Italian restaurants, there’s a distinct ambience to each of these places. Tappo is very cool and modern, while Osteria carries a rustic charm. They each look like restaurants you’d see in New York or Toronto, but with Buffalo prices. That’s the nice thing about mid-size cities: you can get a great meal for $10-$15.

I went to Osteria around 9 p.m. on a Friday. The bar area was dimly lit, crowded and led to the dining room. As I scanned the menu, I noticed that their choices were more lunchtime friendly. I chose a chicken pesto sandwich, which was only $8. I also ordered a house salad and indulged, probably too much, in complimentary bread and dipping sauce. Overall, it was laid back and exactly what I needed to start my weekend off properly.

Dinner at Tappo was much more of an event; the music was louder and the bar area was in the center of the dining room. From my experience with Italian restaurants, I was initially nervous that the portions would be intimidatingly large. I was pleased to discover that they were not. I got Goat Cheese Crespelles, which are basically just crepes filled with goat cheese. Half of the plate had an alfredo base sauce, and the other a marinara. The presentation itself was perfection. The best part? This entrée was $14, which, again, is not bad at all for a downtown restaurant. And for any of you out there planning a special evening, I suggest Tappo’s rooftop terrace, which is open during the warmer months.

Next time you’re out with your friends, skip Chilis and go somewhere new. Supporting local restaurants will only help the economy and industry improve. I can’t wait to see what new restaurant pops up next.

Don’t let the stereotypes fool you: we in Buffalo know good food when we taste it. Been to Pearl Street after a Sabres game? It doesn’t get more Buffalonian than that.

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