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OUT TO EAT / Great dishes, drinks and people

Food for thought

Don't take it personally if you can't get into Tom Lombardo's place on Tuesday. That's because Ristorante Lombardo (1198 Hertel Ave., 873-4291) has only 80 seats, and April 26 is "Dining Out for Life," the Western New York restaurant community's fundraiser for AIDS Community Services.

The event continues to grow in its ninth year, with nearly 100 restaurants donating at least 25 percent of patrons' food bills to the nonprofit agency for its Wellness Center food program. (See www.diningoutforlife.com/westernnewyork.)

Last year the effort raised $89,000, said chairman Tom Lombardo, whose place is donating 50 percent of food checks. Newcomers in 2011 include E.B. Green's, Bistro Europa, Lewiston's Carmelo's Restaurant and Marotto's in Kenmore.

"Ambassadors" organize tables of diners, often handing out envelopes which double as raffle tickets for prize drawings. At Lombardo's, prizes will include a pizza a week for year from Just Pizza.

"You can donate more money in the envelopes, but it's not necessary to enter," Lombardo said. "They're already doing their part by dining out. All they have to do is donate their appetite, because the restaurant will take care of the rest."

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau

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