There are restaurants I remember … All my life, though some have changed. And I’m not the only one. Many of these departed eateries are indelibly linked to our youth, especially in Western New York.
And no, I don’t mean the Pizza Hut where I used to get free personal pizzas for reading books in elementary school. I mean places like the Orchard Downs and Jobo’s Hobo Hut. OK, I never dined at the latter, but I’ve been waiting to drop its name in print for years. (Success!)
One of these, certainly, was Jacobi’s on Camp Road in Hamburg, and happily, the name and location live on. The original Jacobi’s was born in 1974, and in February of this year, three brothers took over ownership and changed the name.
The result, Buster Jacobi’s, is a nice, old-school experience, a family-friendly restaurant that has the look and feel of the Jacobi’s of yesteryear.
The ambience and overall vibe is unchanged, and the décor is a cleaned-up, slightly modernized version of what one would have found decades ago. That does not always work, but here, it does.
We were seated quickly on a Saturday night at a roomy table, just the right size for my wandering 3-year-old. Noticing our small fry, our server let us know a free ice cream sundae was in the cards. (She smartly whispered the news.)
The menu is a mix of Buffalo favorites – pizza, wings, subs – and Italian dishes, with some daily dinner specials, including a large cheese and one-topping pizza for $10.99 Monday through Wednesday.
Thursday is an “all night happy hour” featuring buy-one-get-one-free beers, and Friday offers a $1 off early bird special between 3 and 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday feature my personal favorite: five beers and a large cheese and one-topping pizza for $21.95.
While the restaurant does not have any beer taps, the bottled beer list is solid, with domestics for $3.25 and “specialty” beers for $4.25, including Flying Bison Aviator Red and Rusty Chain, EBC Blueberry, Great Lakes’ Edmund Fitzgerald and Southern Tier IPA. Nice detail: It came in a frosty mug.
A special Saturday menu included “Beer Cheddar #9 Soup” made with Magic Hat #9 beer for $3.95 a cup. I opted for a two-chicken finger, five-wing and fries “Busting Buffalo Sampler” ($8.49).
Others in our group ordered the “Busting Buffalo” chicken with Buffalo sauce, mozzarella and blue cheese on top ($7.49), the jumbo cheese ravioli ($8.99) and a sizable cordon bleu sandwich ($7.99). Interestingly, the chicken on the chicken sandwich was baked, not fried, and that was pleasant to see, considering Western New York’s overemphasis on fried food. (I say that as the man who ordered wings and fries.)
We ordered spaghetti for our little guy from the “bambino” menu ($4.25); he barely touched it, but daddy enjoyed it.
For our group of five adults and one child, the bill came to about $60, and that included three beers and an appetizer. That’s a good deal, and an indicator of an establishment that knows the importance of keeping prices reasonable. A veteran’s discount is offered, too.
Quite simply, just about every menu item is reasonably priced; every full sub is under $8, the Thursday/Friday fish fry was just over $10, and individual specialty pizzas are all under $10.
The Southtowns has its share of family restaurants, but Buster Jacobi’s smart blend of old and new is worth supporting. Quite frankly, I can get behind any place with a beer-and-pizza deal.