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OUT TO EAT / Great dishes, drinks and people

More cheese, please

You've probably heard someone say, "You can never have too much cheese," especially if you grew up among cheese lovers. Or went to lunch at DiTondo's (370 Seneca St., 855-8838).

Scan what the lunch crowd's having, and one of the most ubiquitous sights will be plates covered in a blanket of bubbly, slightly browned cheese. That's spaghetti parm, if you didn't already know -- spaghetti in a light coating of tomato sauce, covered with a generous quilt of mozzarella cheese and run under a broiler.

Ask Al Rohloff, DiTondo's owner, how much cheese is enough, and he says: "You put just enough to make it look good."

The verb form is "parmed," leading the servers to ask "Want that parmed?" when you mention cheese. But Parmesan cheese wouldn't work, Rohloff said. "It will melt a little, but won't get brown and bubbly the way mozzarella does," he said. "Chances are it'll burn first."

What's underneath depends on the diner. Lots of people like chicken, too, which isn't surprising considering the preparation's roots in plates of chicken Parmesan. Others like sausage, meatballs or nothing. (Just spaghetti, sauce and cheese is $6.75 for the small serving, enough for most lunches; meat adds a dollar or two.)

DiTondo's might serve lots of parm, but not to its owner. "I, myself, love spaghetti and cheese," Rohloff said. "Grated cheese. I don't like the cheese like that."

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Soup it up

When the whistling winter wind blows stinging snow in your face, an eater's mind turns to soup. What do you get when you have 30 area restaurants competing for the bragging rights as the best soup in Western New York?

The Souper Bowl? Nope -- it's Buffalo Soup-Fest, set for Jan. 30 in the Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga. It runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will end with awards in more than 15 categories, including Chowder and Best Veggie Stew, Most Comforting and Best Ethnic. The featured contest will be for Chicken Wing Soup, said organizer Keith Wilton.

Tickets are $5 for entry, and $2 and up for samples. A deal on four tickets for $10 will be available online, Wilton said. Tickets are also available at participating restaurants, including Brodo, Williamsville's Farmers and Artisans and Carmine's Ristorante.

For more information: www.buffalosoupfest.com or call 491-0062.

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau (e-mail restaurant news to agalarneau@buffnews.com)

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