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CHEAP EATS

Lebro's Restaurant

330 Campbell Blvd., Amherst

4 pennies (out of four:

"Light and fresh"

Many are the restaurants where one may eat cheap. Few are the restaurants where one may not only eat cheap but enjoy lovely ambience, good service, excellent food and Flying Bison beer.

Few, in other words, are eateries like Lebro's. It's a historic place - lore has it that it was a stop for the Wells Fargo wagon. The beautiful old building has a beautiful low tin ceiling that looked genuine, quaint curtains and twinkly lights in the windows, wooden wainscotting, charming wallpaper and the kind of down-home tavern crowd that includes both working men and crying babies. There are several small, cozy dining rooms. All of them were crowded the Thursday four of us stopped by. And no wonder.

The prices, considering the restaurant's warmth and all-around prettiness, are terrific. Soup is $2.50, a big piggy bowl of excellent gnocchi with marinara sauce is $7.50, and a Sunday special of a homemade lasagne dinner is $10.

Lebro's keeps things simple. Gnocchi, cheese tortellini and meat tortellini all go for $7.50 (small) and $9.95 (large). You don't even have to decide between small and large. No one asked us, we forgot to specify, and we were simply given large portions.

Minestrone was great, with chick peas, lima beans, spinach, carrots, corn, barley and a strong, beefy broth. A chicken soup, with couscous and carrots, also tasted homemade.

And an appetizer called Sausage Privitera ($6.75) proved a great deal. One gourmand among us called it "fabulous." It could easily be a meal. You get a saute of tomatoes, peppers, onions and mild Italian sausage, tossed in marinara sauce. The sausage tasted grilled, and the sauce was unusually light and fresh. And it was accompanied by a generous basket of good bread. Eat up!

The tortellini were a little on the doughy side, but there was that light, fresh marinara again. Gnocchi were a pure delight, pillowy and airy, as if to say, "We have no calories."

Accompanying salads surpassed expectations. Served on traditional clear plates, they were beautifully arranged with chick peas, cucumbers, mushrooms, croutons and fresh, crunchy iceberg lettuce. (You have to see the iceberg as a plus. Lebro's plays it up, announcing it proudly on the menu.) The salads come with bottles of tasty house dressing!

At $7.50, a "fish fry sandwich" with slaw had to be tried. The fish was moist and not too heavily breaded, and the slaw had, again, that light and fresh taste. You can also get the fish broiled.

Warning! Warning! A big wedge of homemade apple pie ($5) is thick, spicy, oozy and altogether irresistible. The slice our table shared will live on in legend, just like the Wells Fargo wagon.

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday. Wheelchair-accessible.