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Phil Wagner

Freelance local food writer with a passion for the staples and a palate for adventurous eating.


Food and Drink

On a mission to bring a new dining experience to Grand Island, Christy and Jason Zippier opened their new restaurant 773 North, serving trendy but humble dishes with an atmosphere to match. Packed to the gills on a snowy Thursday night just a few days into their opening, it’s clear the Zippiers are breathing some life into Grand Island’s antiquated culinary scene. Cl…

Food and Drink

Main Street Deli in Williamsville is the long-awaited venture of husband and wife duo Greg and Christine Gerard. The former Long Island residents opened their doors in November 2017 serving breakfast and lunch with a little downstate flair. Nestled next to Ellicott Creek in the heart of downtown Williamsville, the location is on prime real estate for foot traffic once t…

Food and Drink

A fresh façade has come to the space that was formerly J&L Automotive on Hertel Avenue near the Delaware intersection. Opening in late January, The Garage Café & Lounge is the first step in an ambitious plan to convert the former auto-shop to a dining, drinking and entertainment destination. There's plans for a bar, live music lineup and open-air beer garden on …

Food and Drink

A couple of the most enthusiastic men I’ve ever met have recently spun their food truck beginnings into a brick and mortar restaurant called Good Fortunes just off Main Street near the University at Buffalo South campus. Greg Whitehurst and Jo Jo of the popular Gourm-Asian food truck are cranking out off the wall Asian fusion munchies behind a modest walk-up window line…

Gusto

Founded in Pasadena, Calif., in 2011, Blaze Pizza is a rapidly expanding fast-casual restaurant that’s just opened its doors on Niagara Falls Boulevard near the entrance to the 290. Famously funded in part by NBA superstar spokesperson LeBron James, Blaze has big plans to grow to over 500 restaurants by 2020. It’s become abundantly clear their “Fast Fire’d” ultra-custom…

Food and Drink

A fresh concept newly settled on a sleepy strip of Abbott Road in Lackawanna, Sonny Red’s is bringing trendy Neapolitan-style pizza into the heart of “cup-and-char” pepperoni country. A sister restaurant to the iconic Mulberry, this new venture strays just far enough from its origin to establish its own identity while preserving some of the most revered items and stylin…

Gusto

The Barrel Factory in the Old First Ward is a mammoth complex hiding in plain sight nestled next to Gene McCarthy’s. Housing Lakeward Spirits, Pressure Drop Brewing, a beautiful event space and several other local businesses, Buffalo’s Best Cucina is its newest addition, serving up a broad menu centered around their pizzas and panini. The restaurant is the third establi…

Gusto

Stooges Stuffed Burger Bar is a fresh addition to Lockport’s slowly expanding dining scene. Serving up a familiar menu of homespun pub fare All Stars with trademark twists, the menu is anchored by their namesake “Stooges.” A take on the Minneapolis staple “Juicy Lucy,” these stuffed burgers come with a variety of signature stylings as well as a “make your own” option, r…

Food and Drink

The cold of our notorious winter is swiftly approaching, and The Gateway Café & Grill is looking to meet the chill head-on. Opening in November, the new Tonawanda lunch spot specializes in a seemingly endless variety of scratch-made soups that rotate daily, served alongside staple Buffalo comfort fare. For $5.49, a small 12-ounce container comes served with a chu…

Food and Drink

A fresh face on a rapidly transforming strip of Main Street, City Fare Café + Catering is dishing out a broad selection of hip breakfast and lunchtime bites. Opening in mid-October, the location and decorum are a perfect complement to the cuisine that owner-chef Matthew Conroy is preparing fresh daily. It’s a squeaky clean and inviting environment with pops of elegant f…

Food and Drink

With the days of Buffalo’s massive inner-city labor force long behind her, there aren’t many restaurants specifically servicing the lunch crowd downtown. Fera’s Lunch Hour, a staple in Buffalo for nearly a century has been doing just that. Holding to the remainder of a hunger a fraction of what it once was, Fera’s has persisted with a loyal customer base and uncompromis…

Food and Drink

The Louisiana Cookery is putting their popular food truck into hibernation for the winter and focusing efforts on a new brick-and-mortar restaurant. Mark and Amy Powlenko opened Nov. 1 at 1238 Walden Ave., making a run at injecting Cajun and Creole flavors into an old Cheektowaga neighborhood just before the cold sets in. Located near the Walden Galleria, the restaur…

Gusto

Bob and Annie Sweeney are filling a void in the ever-expanding Buffalo food scene with their two locations of the French-inspired breakfast spot: Break’n Eggs Crêperie. Annie is the “French Connection” (well, French-Canadian) behind the crêpe-slinging duo while her husband Bob maintains head chef duties. The success of their wildly popular Break’n Eggs Crêperie on Main …

Gusto

The Greystone is a new Continental restaurant with an Italian twist that’s taken over the space most recently occupied by The Snooty Fox at 445 Delaware Ave. Under the leadership of executive chef Kevin O’Connell Jr., Greystone is offering approachable and familiar dishes at heart, with pleasantly unfamiliar spins incorporated into each one. Bread service ($7) was pe…