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Restaurant notes: Hali Boyz, Fiero, This Little Pig, Oliver's, Don Tequila

The city's newest taqueria brings Mexican flavors to Black Rock from sunny California.

Hali Boyz, 388 Amherst St., starts selling its chicken and beef tacos this afternoon, plus sandwiches, loaded fries and sopes, fried cornmeal discs topped with taco fixings.

But don't expect pork here, because this is a halal shop. Malak Mazeh and his brother Nour, half Mexican, half Lebanese, own and operate the shop. After operating restaurants in the Los Angeles area, they decided Buffalo would be a good place to set up their own restaurant.

Owner Malak Mazeh gets ready to serve the first customers at Hali Boyz. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The former Lucy Ethiopian, at the corner of Amherst and Grant streets, has been redecorated urban graffiti style and outfitted with two tables and some counter spots to eat.

Tacos are available in steak and braised beef ($1.75), chicken ($1.50), shrimp ($2.25) and vegetarian ($1.50). Those fillings are also available as burritos ($5.99-$7.49) and tortas, Mexican sandwiches ($5.99-$7.50).

A fresh salsa bar awaits customers at Hali Boyz. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

There's a fresh salsa bar where customers can top off their purchases with three kinds of salas, pico de gallo, radishes and lime wedges before they dig in.

The restaurant is on a busy corner, but Malak Mazeh said he has negotiated permission for customers to use the Polish Cadets lot across the street.

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Friday. Phone: 783-9940.

New Transit place coming: The Caffe Espresso restaurant space in Clarence won't be dark long.

Jeff Cooke Jr., formerly executive chef of Osteria 166 and Ellicottville's Villagio, plans to open This Little Pig, his first restaurant, at 4401 Transit Road this summer.

His business partner will be his wife, Mandy Cooke. The couple originally met on a riverboat casino in Missouri, where he was a chef, and she was a bartender and cocktail waitress. Cooke was a professional bassist and country club chef in various settings before helping open Osteria 166 in 2013, then Villagio. It will be the Cookes' first restaurant of their own.

They hope to open by the end of July, Jeff Cooke said. It will be about 50 seats and a full bar.

Pizza will be on the opening menu, but it's not an Italian restaurant. Cooke said he's thinking of pepperoni and margherita pies, but also one featuring the flavors of the Puerto Rican tripleta sandwich, he said. "We're going to do some different takes on pizza, some with cool vegetable ingredients on top."

Housemade pierogi stuffed with housemade farmer's cheese or smoked pulled pork are coming too, and a poblano pepper stuffed with housemade chorizo, battered and deep-fried. Expect a raw bar, with oysters, all week long.

"The more I think of what is it going to be," he said, "it's going to be whatever the heck we want to do that makes people happy."

(Hat tip: Howard Goldman)

Oliver's chef to Manhattan: Ross Warhol, the executive chef of Oliver's Restaurant, has been invited to present a showcase dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan.

The June 24 dinner starts at 7 p.m., and $175 tickets are available to the public; go to to purchase. The Beard House, once the home of the famed chef and celebrator of American regional cuisine, now showcases regional cuisine from visiting chefs.

Being invited to lead a Beard House dinner is "surreal," said Warhol, who first cooked there representing the Athenaeum Hotel in 2012. "To be able to cook in that kitchen justifies every waking minute and sacrifice I've made in my career. It's a great honor to be able to showcase what a perfect meal means to me."

[In 2015, Goetz made the case that Buffalo cuisine could stand on its own]

Buffalo culinary talents invited in recent years include Mike Andrzejewski, Adam Goetz, Steven and Ellen Gedra, Edward Forster, Jon Karel, JJ Richert, Jennifer Boye and Brian Mietus.

[In 2016, the Gedras offered Beard diners a love letter to Buffalo.]

On June 24, hors d’oeuvres will include oysters with celery gin, black currants, spirulina, and lemon balm, and blue cheesecake tarts with Concord grapes, walnuts, and radishes.

The six-course dinner will include "Decadence of Eggs," aged duck breast with fava risotto, morels, apricot purée, spruce, and onion caramel, and kumquat tart with caramelized white chocolate, ginger beer, raspberry glass, and violet ice cream.

Don Tequila reopening: Don Tequila, the Mexican family restaurant at 73 Allen St., will reopen May 11.

Lunch service will start at 11 a.m., the restaurant said on its Facebook page.

The restaurant has been closed since an immigration raid closed four Mexican restaurants in October. El Agave, the family restaurant 3870 Union Union Road, Cheektowaga, and La Divina taqueria, 2896 Delaware Ave., have reopened as well.

Aguacates is open under new ownership at 765 Elmwood Ave., which was formerly Agave.

Fiero closes: Fiero, the Mediterranean restaurant at 408 Evans St., Amherst, has closed.

The restaurant posted the news to its Facebook page on May 4. "We can’t fully express our deep gratitude for your business and support," it said. "Serving you all has been nothing but an absolute pleasure."

The restaurant opened in May 2015 with a broadly Mediterranean menu. Last year it refocused on Italian cuisine.

Its last night of service was May 3, the statement said.

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