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Restaurant notes: Churn, AStreet Meatball, Pita Gourmet

Churn, the ice cream shop fashioned by Lloyd Taco Factory founders, opened to the public July 15.

At 1501 Hertel Ave., next to their restaurant, Pete Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo will offer soft-serve ice cream made from grass-fed milk, not commercially processed ice cream base.

"We're trying to go the pure route," Dorsaneo said. Churn is made with Ithaca Milk, cane sugar instead of corn syrup, and as little stabilizer as possible, he said. Starting flavors will be vanilla, chocolate and green tea.

Inside Churn, 1501 Hertel Ave., next to Lloyd Taco Factory. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

There will also be vegan coconut-based soft serve on offer, one of the from-scratch ice cream recipes developed by Churn's Ann Tran.

Plain cones start at $2.79, and a housemade waffle cone is $.99 extra. "Curated cones" such as the Michele Ferrero (Nutella, toasted hazelnuts, chocolate dip, pearls, seen above) start at $3.29. The vegan Technicolor Toucan includes lime zest, toasted coconut and non-GMO fruit cereal on vegan coconut soft-serve. Blizzard-like fold-ins, such as shortbread cookies, candied almonds and coffee marshmallows, start at $4.39.

Pete Cimino, left, Panda Tran and Chris Dorsaneo, right, at Churn on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Sundaes ($6.59) include the Shortie Cake, with lemon poundcake, vanilla soft-serve, seasonal compote, fresh fruit and meringue.

There will also be coffee and espresso drinks on offer.

"We did it for the same reason we did Lloyd," Dorsaneo said. "We wanted a more healthy product."

That's how the Lloyd partners want to eat, and "we want to offer that to our guests and our customers," Cimino said. "We wanted to make the best ice cream possible, and I think a happy cow is where that starts."

Ice cream menu at Churn, 1501 Hertel Ave. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Clarence souvlaki: Pita Gourmet plans to open its third area location in a new retail building that Bevilacqua Development wants to construct on Transit Road in Clarence.

Bevilacqua is looking to build an 8,500-square-foot, single-story building with a drive-through at 6031 Transit Road, across from the Transit Valley Country Club, on the site of the former Buggy Wash self-serve car wash.

The company doesn't yet have a tenant for the drive-through section but Pita Gourmet has signed a lease for the other end of the building, said CEO Jonathan Bevilacqua. At least one or two other tenants would fill the building. Pita Gourmet's other locations are in Niagara Falls and Lancaster.

The new restaurant will have seating for about 90 patrons, nearly twice the size of the 50 seats in the Lancaster restaurant that is also on Transit Road, said Joe Mahfouz, president of Pita Gourmet, which he runs with his brother, Mark, and sister, Monique.

It will have about 20 employees and serve lunch and dinner for at least six days a week and possibly Sunday as well, Joe Mahfouz said. The restaurant will have dine-in, carry-out and call-ahead service.

Pita Gourmet features Mediterranean-American fusion, fast-casual food. Mahfouz said the chain is known for its housemade sauces and marinades and for the meat for its gyros that is cut straight from the rotisserie.

Pita Gourmet turns hunger to happiness

Construction on the $1.5 million project would start later this year, after the Clarence Planning Board approves the development plan.

The Clarence Town Board on Wednesday granted a special exception use permit for the drive-through, on condition that Bevilacqua come back to the Town Board once he knows the tenant. Town Board members don't want a Tim Hortons-type tenant that could leave vehicles stacking up onto Transit.

Allentown meatballs: The growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus clinched a decision by Bobby Burns and Dennis Glenn to open a gourmet sandwich shop that will specialize in homemade, gluten-free meatballs and sauce in Allentown.

Burns, the "meatball guy," and Glenn, a Williamsville native, are renovating 23 Allen St. – adjacent to Caffeology coffee shop – and plan to open AStreet Meatball Market in August. The building is near the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, which is slated to open later this year.

"I'm not sure I would have seriously considered it if not for the medical center," said Burns, who grew up in Boston. "That was definitely a clincher. How could it not be?"

Burns and Glenn moved to Buffalo from New York City. They plan to have seating for 14 in their 1,100-square-foot bistro. There also will be a limited bakery, featuring cupcakes, homemade cookies and ice cream for customers to "make" their own ice cream sandwiches. Black-and-white photographs of Allen Street, a painted cobblestone walk that "disappears" into cobblestone wall art, a life-sized streetlamp and a white-painted tin ceiling round out the decor. - Karen Robinson

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