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Restaurant notes: Mile 303, Linguine's, Eckl's@Larkin

A new bar-restaurant in Medina aims to please eyes as well as palates with a unique sculpture of the Erie Canal that runs through the dining room, serving as bar and table tops as well as decor.

The interior of Mile 303, 416 Main St., has a turquoise stream flowing through it that rises and dips, echoing in an abstract way the topography of the canal. It's made of hard maple and clever woodworking, including traditional Japanese joinery.

"This town exists because of the canal," said Tim Hungerford, an owner. When trying to figure out a look for the restaurant, his architect brother Brian pitched the idea of a one-of-a-kind design element that would be meaningful, beautiful and functional.

Interested folks can stop by for a drink when the place soft-opens on May 5. The full menu won’t be available until May 9.

Made of hard maple and turquoise stain, the canal sculpture at Mile 303 in Medina is one-of-a-kind. (Dennis Stierer)

Chef Benjamin Pecoraro, formerly of Vera Pizzeria, will be offering Neapolitan-style pizzas made with long-ferment dough and approachable bar fare, along with a streak of more ambitious dishes using foraged ingredients like burdock and other local produce.

The bar side will include custom cocktails and beer from local craft in pints and growlers to Genny Light. Leonard Oakes will supply white and red wine on tap, as well as cider, in addition to a bottled wine list.

"We're straddling a line a little bit, leveraging the architecture and design concept and pushing a modern food construct to do it," Hungerford said. "But we also offer very approachable things, so if people come in and think 'This is a moon ship, this is weird,' we'll have the warm comforts of Genny Light and pizza to eat."

The decor and menu are unlike anything for miles at Mile 303 in Medina. (Dennis Stierer)

The project is the work of Medina High School graduates who traveled the country and came home to raise their children.

"I lived in a different city every year for like 12 years, then somehow ended up marrying a girl from Medina," Hungerford, a software developer, said of his wife, Teresa, an environmental engineer at GHD in Buffalo who was instrumental in the project as well. When she became pregnant with their first daughter, they decided to move back to Medina, where their parents live.

In 2013 they bought the building, constructed as a general store in 1867, and rehabbed the third floor into living space. The second floor became their office and co-working space.

During the rehab, they wished they had a restaurant that reminded them of some of the cool places they'd enjoyed in their travels. "We wanted to bring something like that, and push the needle forward, from a cultural standpoint, in Medina," Hungerford said. "This whole project is a product of that ethos."

"Troyer Farm Special," bread, turmeric hummus, pickles and chips, at Mile 303 in Medina. (Mile 303)

Opening food menu at Mile 303 in Medina. (Mile 303)

Opening drinks menu at Mile 303 in Medina. (Mile 303)

Linguine's returning: Vincent and Linda Desiderio are bringing Linguine's restaurant back, in a bigger, better spot.

After 20 years in a gas station plaza, the Desiderios closed one of the most-loved Italian restaurants in that area in December.

Now they've signed the lease for a new place at 5354 Genesee St., Bowmansville, the former site of Water Lily Cafe. This restaurant, just a few hundred yards from the old one, will have its own parking lot.

There's construction ahead, and the restaurant won't be ready until the fall, or thereabouts, Vincent Desiderio said. The new place will have a new kitchen and more room, but the same Linguine's menu.

Since he closed the old place, he's heard from loyal customers, urging him to get back to work. "It's humbling to have such a great customer base, no doubt about it," he said. "The new landlord made us an offer, and that's why we're coming back," he said, of developer Tony Cutaia, one of those loyal customers.

Also, "I've been a little bored," Desiderio said. "You can only travel so much."

*Read more on Linguine's:
- Report on Linguine's closing
- Andrew Galarneau's dining review from 2015

Jim Cornell has been working on a restaurant in the former industrial building for longer than four years. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Eckl's@Larkin delayed: Eckl's@Larkin, the huge new Larkinville restaurant and event space, plans to open May 5.

Work on the 7,000-square-foot restaurant, in the Larkin Center of Commerce, 701 Seneca St., is nearing its completion, said owner Jim Cornell. Delays have pushed back the initial opening, he said.

Wood paneling, antiqued copper ceiling tiles and a central bar with a hammered copper top are part of the plan to install one of the city's largest restaurants in the former industrial building.

The restaurant aims to merge the beef on weck and Western New York staples of Orchard Park's Eckl's with an upscale steak, chops and seafood house. Cornell bought Eckl's in 2016.

In the main dining room, customers will be able to watch a raw bar and, behind glass, a beef carving station that's actually part of the kitchen.

Bar and dining room walls slide up to give the spaces open-air views of Larkin Square.

Hogan Glass, a company partly owned by Cornell, was contracted years ago to build new doors for Shea's. But due to a measurement error, the $60,000 custom doors wouldn’t fit. Rather than break them down, they were stored in a warehouse. Now they're the front doors to Eckl's@Larkin, Cornell said.

[Related: Read the restaurant review of Eckl's, from April 2017]

Clusters of elm leaves, laser-cut from metal, will be a decor accent in Eckl's@Larkin. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

A partial wall dividing bar from dining room is being decorated with laser-cut metal elm leaves in memory of Western New York's decimated elm population.

"We believe in bringing back legacy and landmark, memorable old stuff," Cornell said.

Antiqued copper ceiling tiles help redefine former industrial space at Eckl's@Larkin. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Eckl's@Larkin's executive chef is Andrew Marino, most recently of Local Kitchen & Beer Bar, and Mess Hall. The restaurant will be open Monday to Saturday at first, with Sunday hours expected later, Cornell said. Lunch, served weekdays, will include sandwiches and salads.

Huge new Larkinville restaurant bringing Eckl's to Buffalo

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