The people behind Buffalo fine dining destination Ristorante Lombardo are opening a wine bar on Hertel Avenue.
The site, 1197 Hertel Ave., was formerly Café Garangelo. The building is across the street from Ristorante Lombardo, established by the Lombardo family in 1975 at 1198 Hertel Ave.
Third-generation restaurateur Thomas D. Lombardo is developing plans for the space, with questions about its interior layout still to be answered. His parents, his wife Mary and Chef Michael O'Barka are also part of the effort, he said.
"A lot of decisions still need to be made, but what we do know is that we will be opening a wine bar, to be a space that is Western New York's answer to what Blue Monk was for craft beer lovers," Lombardo said.
It will be a place to explore wine, and wine culture, in casual, lively, unpretentious surroundings, he said. "There is so much good wine out there, and new and exciting things in the wine world, that aren’t being represented at all in Western New York."
The building, unused for a decade, will need work, Lombardo said. Work is planned to start at the end of February. The place will hold 35 to 40 when it's done, he said.
The food menu will include small plates, meat and cheese platters, and other low-key offerings, he said.
Now the goal is to figure out how to do that without competing with the restaurant across the street.
"My intention is to deliver Lombardo hospitality in a welcoming, approachable way, always. My mission is to break down the stereotypes that surround wine. That it's intimidating, that you have to know about it to drink."
At the new as-yet-unnamed place, your wine journey can go either way, Lombardo said.
"If you want to learn about wine, you can," he said. "If you're just there to have a glass of wine, we're not there to give you a lecture either. Not every wine is going to be an orange wine that's funky, but we want to represent some of those wines."
"Wine," Lombardo said, "is too often put in a box."
*Read Janice Okun's 1994 review of Cafe GarAngelo, below:
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