Rock Bottom isn’t Ruzzine’s any more, but the Transit Road burger battle is just beginning.
That’s the message from veteran restaurateur Steve Calvaneso, who now owns the former Ruzzine’s Rock Bottom, 6261 Transit Road, which closed July 2.
Rock Bottom is across the road from Grover’s Bar & Grill, known for its jumbo burgers. Both restaurants sell burgers, with Grover’s a perennial on best burger lists and television personality itineraries.
Calvaneso formerly operated an eponymous restaurant on Transit Road, part of a lengthy restaurant resume that includes former owner of Bacchus on Chippewa Street, City Grille and Yaya Bayou Brewhouse. “I got out of high-end dining and went back to casual dining,” he said, with Libation Station, and Blue Bull Tavern on Sweet Home Road in Amherst. His company also does Babeville’s catering.
At Rock Bottom, Calvaneso completely retrofitted the building, with partner Austin Scaccia, his catering manager at Babeville, he said.
“We have literally taken every single item out of the restaurant and redone it,” Calvaneso said. “We haven’t changed the layout, but have redone every single, floor, wall, plumbing, and replaced the kitchen.”
The building’s core is a Sears Roebuck catalog kit home from 1908 or 1904, Calvaneso said. Renovations included pulling up carpet and refinishing the hardwood floors throughout the place. “They came out gorgeous,” he said.
There’s about 60 seats in the four dining areas, and probably 12 bar seats. The patio has also been redone.
“We’re hoping to open July 28, assuming we get the liquor license,” he said. Calvaneso also plans to start Sunday brunch in September.
The seasoned restaurateur said he has learned that Rock Bottom and fellow hamburger specialist Grover’s have split the loyalty of the area’s hamburger audience. “We’re char-broiled and they’re griddled,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that Grover’s has had a leg up on Rock Bottom the last couple years,” said Calvaneso. “We’re looking to level the playing field.”
Vegan cafe expands: Press Food & Juice, a café specializing in cold-pressed juices and raw and vegan organic food, has expanded on the West Side.
Owner Esther Pica reopened Press earlier this month at 426 Rhode Island St., the space formerly occupied by Five Points Bakery, after moving from a smaller Grant Street location.
Press is an organic, vegan café whose core product is cold-pressed juices, Pica said. “We were the first juicery that did cold-pressed juices in Buffalo.”
In Press’ new larger digs, Pica has been able to expand her menu. Now there are raw dishes –whose ingredients have not been heated above about 107 degrees, to preserve nutritional value – and cooked vegan dishes, mainly soups.
Pica said her goal is offering raw and vegan dishes whose flavors and substance will make anyone happy. Menu availability can change, but recently, Press offered sunflower seed falafel on chopped Israeli salad with smoky tahini dressing ($10). (The falafel nuggets are dehydrated, not fried.)
Other choices have included zucchini pad Thai with bean sprouts and crushed cashews ($8), and an iceberg wedge salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, coconut “bacon” and raw ranch dressing ($9).
The café is open 8 a.m to 4 p.m. seven days a week. Phone: 464-3695.
Elmwood pub reopens: A trio of new restaurateurs have combined efforts to reopen the former Pierce Arrow Bar & Grill.
The place at 1680 Elmwood Ave. is now the Pierce Arrow Village Pub, and it’s currently in a soft-opening phase before its official debut.
“One of my favorite shows growing up was ‘Cheers,’ ” said owner Kyle Rzeszutek. “I said if that ever happens for me, I want a place where truly, everyone knows your name.”
Rzesztek said he is aiming for a relaxed neighborhood pub atmosphere for the place. His partners are brothers Steven and Scott Cvetkovski, he said. This will be the partners’ first place.
The menu is basic tavern fare, like wings, burgers ($7.95-9.95) and a slate of sandwiches ($5.95-8.95), including Italian sausage, fried bologna and tuna. There’s a full bar.
Now, the place opens at 4 p.m., but eventually, it will open for lunch, Rzeszutek said. Its grand opening will be Sept. 11, the date of the Buffalo Bills opener. Phone: 877-8226.
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