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Butera’s focuses on craft pizza, beer

Residents and frequent visitors to the Village of Hamburg will note that Butera’s Craft Beer & Craft Pizza has taken over the space formerly occupied by O’Brien’s Farm Fresh Meats & Smokehouse — a gourmet food store-cum-restaurant — and more recently August Bistro. Perhaps the third time is the charm.

Owner Jimmy Butera of the nearby Jimmie’s Pizza closed his longtime location at 43 Buffalo St. to recently open Butera’s, a more upscale pizzeria that serves craft beer. The old sign hangs above a counter where the new brick oven was installed. The décor is sleek, with a long bar backed by neat wood slat wall.

The menu is simple and pared down, which is welcome in an age of menu tomes.

Appetizers range from $3.99 for garlic bread with cheese to $7.99 for Butera’s Mozzarella, hand-breaded fresh mozzarella that’s pan-fried and served with red sauce or stuffed banana peppers. French onion ($4.25) and beer cheddar ($3.50) are on the menu along with a soup of the day, which was out on our visit.

An abbreviated sandwich and wrap section has prices that range from $8.49 to $9.99. A meatball parm sandwich special ($9.99) was served on a housemade roll, one of Butera’s ambitions upon opening. Personal calzones are $8.99.

Entrees come with a house salad and start at $12.99 for spaghetti and meatballs to a Fall Black Strip Steak special on our visit made with Big Ditch Fall Black Beer for $15.99. The special Chicken Milanese served with an arugula salad ($11.99) looked good passing by.

But we were visiting on the Cheap, and of course, for pizza. Sadly, we were disappointed.

Brick-oven pizzas made with homemade dough come 8-inch ($8.99) and 14-inch ($11.99), both include two toppings. Specialty pies ($10.99/$14.99) included Margherita, white, stuffed banana pepper and chicken and spinach.

The 8-inch pies looked great. The crust was thin and bubbled with slight charring, just as it should be.

So why the disappointment? Our pizzas lacked taste.

My gold standard is Lovejoy Pizza’s stuffed hot pepper. Butera’s stuffed hot pepper lacked any heat. Stuffed pepper filling appeared to be spread on the dough, which was then topped with mozzarella and sliced stuffed peppers. We were looking for a kick and heat, but all we got was bland.

The white pizza was slightly better, but still lacked flavor. Maybe more thin sliced onion? More garlic to both pies? Salt in the dough? Hard to tell. It wasn’t busy, so we can safely assume the kitchen didn’t have a bad night. Next time we’d order a custom pie with bolder ingredients, as the crust had a nice crispy, yet chewy texture.

We also ordered 10 honey garlic wings ($10.59), which were tasty. With a slight char, they had a nice barbecue flavor. They arrived with only two each, celery and carrot sticks. The blue cheese dressing was good.

A house salad ($2.99) was a decent lettuce mix that included romaine, along with black olives, garbanzos, green pepper and the usual tomato-cukes. However the Italian dressing reminded us of Kraft’s bottled Golden Italian. In a restaurant seeking to be more upscale, it was out of place.

With a few tweaks Butera’s could be really good, but for now it needs to move out of regular pizzeria mode and into something with more thought and work put into the food in relation to its prices.

With Romeo & Juliet’s on nearby Clark Street in Hamburg serving up its DEK Oven Style Pizzas, the competition for thin-crust pizza business is going to be tight.

Cheap Eats

Butera’s Craft Beer & Craft Pizza

Where: 32 Main St., Hamburg (648-5017, buterasbrickoven.com)

Hours: Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Extra: Take out available.

Accessible: Yes.

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