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Restaurant Notes: Patina 250, Tony's Ranch House, Aro de Tapas

Patina 250, the flagship restaurant in the new Westin Buffalo hotel, aims to add a new level of sophistication to Buffalo’s menu of hotel restaurants.

The luxury hotel restaurant has long been a staple of larger cities’ high-end dining menus. When Patina opens at 5 p.m. Sept. 15, Buffalonians will have a chance to dine at a restaurant designed to satisfy world travelers.

The restaurant has a central room for less formal drinking and dining. A side room offers a quieter, less casual setting, including booths that seem designed to hide canoodling movie stars from paparazzi. There’s also a private dining room, surrounded by wine walls, for small groups.

Executive Chef Homer Ford met his wife Raven working at Bistro Europa under Mike Pijanowski’s ownership. He moved to New York City kitchens including Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar, and Blue Water Grill. Ford was most recently executive chef at Isabella’s, across the street from the American Museum of Natural History.

Potato-leek pierogi with fried shallots and garlic, housemade sauerkraut at Patina 250. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Potato-leek pierogi with fried shallots and garlic, housemade sauerkraut at Patina 250. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

[Read: Starters on Patina 250, with ample food photos]

He moved back to Buffalo in September 2015. Raven Ford became assistant general manager at Big Ditch Brewing Company, and her husband set out to put his experience to work shaping a menu. “It’s going to be quality-driven, seasonal, approachable,” he said.

One distinguishing element in the Patina 250 kitchen is a grill fired with wood embers, “white oak for heat, cherry for flavor,” said Ford. It adds a touch of smoke, and the searing power of temperatures above 1,000 degrees F. “The wood-fired grill will set us apart,” said Ford, with dishes like a New York State trout deboned, grilled until its skin is crisp, and served with a simple salad.

The menu will include a double-cut Berkshire pork chop that Ford serves on applesauce resonant with fennel pollen and sherry vinegar. Across the menu, Ford will offer diners dishes they recognize, with grace notes to set them apart from other restaurants’ offerings he said.

Patina 250 will be an all-day restaurant. Here’s the tentative hours: breakfast 7 to 10:30 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner 5 to 10 p.m., with a stripped-down bar menu until midnight.

Reservations can be made at 290-0600, or through Open Table.

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Tony’s changes hands: Tony’s Ranch House, the Main Street family restaurant known for its Texas Hots, has a new owner.

His name is Tony too. Developer Anthony Trusso’s company, Tru Development, also owns the Lenox Grill, the Lenox Hotel, and several other downtown buildings. “We live in Buffalo, we believe in Buffalo, and it’s great to be a part of that North Buffalo Main Street corridor that seems to be springing back to life,” Trusso said.

Christina Candiliotis, who operated the 2285 Main St. restaurant with her husband Jerry, has retired. Her last day was Aug. 29, Trusso’s first. “She came in that day and stayed to help us,” Trusso said. “It was busy.”

The Candiliotises operated Tony’s after her son, George Pitliangas, was shot fatally at the restaurant in 2006. “We are forever grateful to the community for their 35 years of support and the love shown to us, especially the last 10 years after the loss of our George,” the Candiliotises wrote in an email. “We plan to stay in the area.”

Tony's Ranch House, 2286 Main St., is under new ownership. (Photo: Google Street View)

Tony's Ranch House, 2286 Main St., is under new ownership. (Photo: Google Street View)

Trusso said he improved the heating and air conditioning system, and plans to start opening Sundays in October. Otherwise he plans to keep Tony’s the same. “Employees are remaining there, and we’re adding more. Christina and Jerry were such a huge part of that community, and that business, that it’ll take more than two people to replace them, for all the work they did.”

Trusso said he grew up in the diner business, as his mother had a diner called the Beehive, at Grant and Arnold on the West Side. Tony’s had been his uncle’s favorite place to get Texas Hots for decades, he said.

As for the food, “we might add a few things to it, but aren’t taking any of the favorites off the menu,” Trusso said. “Those will be the same.”

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Chefs leave Aro: Scott and Monica Kollig, the husband-and-wife team leading the kitchen at Aro de Tapas, left the restaurant last week.

Scott Kollig said that while Monica was out of town for an event, owner Jeremy Horwitz said he would be terminating her contract. Kollig said that he quit in response, on Sept. 7.

The Kolligs brought extensive fine-dining resumes to the Spanish-style restaurant, located at 5415 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, when it opened in February.

Horwitz said the Kolligs’ departure would have no effect on the food Aro offers customers. Former sous chef Robert Mahoney is now executive chef, and Ann Tran moves up to pastry chef, he said.

Husband and wife chef team, Scott Kollig, left, with the arroz con pollo, and Monica Kollig, showing off her ojo del Búfalo dessert at Aro Bar de Tapas.  (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Husband and wife chef team, Scott Kollig, left, with the arroz con pollo, and Monica Kollig, showing off her ojo del Búfalo dessert at Aro Bar de Tapas. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Despite the departures, “we have very talented people in our kitchen,” Horwitz said. Mahoney ran the Aro kitchen the weekend of Sept. 3, without the Kolligs, as he did on other occasions, Horwitz said.

“He performed very capably, with absolutely no drop in service or food quality. ... The menu is not changing, and it’s full steam ahead.”

[Review: Aro de Tapas brings Spanish pleasures to Amherst]

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Pierogi debut: Ru’s Pierogi will launch its food truck at the Bills home opener on Thursday.

The pierogi restaurant at 295 Niagara St. expects to start serving its pierogi-centric menu and pints of craft beer in early October. Partners Andy Ruszczyk and Zachary Schneider are already filling restaurant orders for pierogi, in tradition-bending flavors like banana-pepper-and-cheese, barbecued pork and chicken wing.

Chicken wing pierogi and fries from Ru's Pierogi. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Chicken wing pierogi and fries from Ru's Pierogi. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

[Read: Starters on Ru's Pierogi, with a look at several food options]

But pierogi fans headed to watch the Bills battle the Jets on Thursday night will find the Ru’s Pierogi truck at 60 Fay St. in Orchard Park. That’s off Abbott Road, two streets south of New Era Field.

Chef Ruszczyk will start serving at about 3:30 p.m.

Menu choices will include three chicken wing pierogi with blue cheese, hot sauce, celery, carrots and fries ($6.50), and a pierogi parm sandwich with banana-pepper-and-cheese pierogi stuffed into a garlic toasted sub roll, topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella, with fries ($8).

[Photos: Ru's Pierogi's participation in Pints and Pierogi at Marcy Casino]

Send restaurant tips to agalarneau@buffnews.com

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