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Investigating a restaurant with a huge menu is like solving a mystery. Tips from informants, clues gleaned from staff past or present, a found photograph that proves to be worth 1,000 words and more – those can all prove useful. All too often, though, especially with new places, it’s more like a game of Battleship. I only have so many shots to fire – and the suspense…

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To be counted among the best in mountain climbing, you have to scale the Seven Summits, the highest alps of each continent. To become a landmark restaurant is slightly easier, but restaurateurs must still succeed in diverse areas. Many can conquer the lower peaks – like offering food that brings customers back and figuring out how to set workable prices. Medium-sized…

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Lots of eaters weigh the attractiveness of Italian-American pasta houses by the vastness of their servings. Acres of mozzarella, mountains of meatballs, and more macaroni than a marathoner can manage. Diners like personable servers and a mint with the check, but in Buffalo, nothing brings them back like a doggy bag that takes two hands. So it was intriguing to sit in th…

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A restaurant must be a cut above the rest for News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau to award 10 out of 10 plates in a dining review. The food does not have to be perfect, but the full experience -- from decor to efficiency to noise level -- must meet the lofty standards of a food writer who has eaten at hundreds of local restaurants. In light of his 10-plate review of To…

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It’s been quite a year in 2019 for Toutant. In single-digit January temperatures, a pipe burst on the third floor of its Civil War-era building on Ellicott Street. Water cascaded through to the basement. Anti-mold efforts and renovations, including refinished floors, new furniture and a new first-floor bar top, shut down the operation – and cash flow – for two weeks. In…

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One of the salient pleasures of exploring cuisine is the sensation of travel it affords. My budget may not allow for a deluxe nine-day cruise of the Far East, but I can walk into any of the restaurants around the University at Buffalo’s Amherst campus focused on Chinese nationals and find a cheap ticket out of my surroundings. Looking at a plate full of alien sustena…

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It takes a village to keep a pizza parlor alive. To maintain fine dining restaurants in good health takes a city. Once you stray beyond metro limits, the opportunities for enjoying creative scratch dining are rare. Communities rally around institutions that they want to preserve against economic and demographic threats, like theaters and museums. Arriving in Jamestown, …

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The Greek diner scene is such a core strand of Buffalo’s dining DNA that sometimes locals are dismayed to discover that the breakfast meat choices end at ham, bacon and sausage. Not a souvlaki in sight, and when you ask for tzatziki with your eggs, they act like you’re the weird one. In 2013, News Staff Writer Samantha Christmann mapped the epic family tree of immigrant…

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Jazzboline is the main restaurant for the Amherst Hospitality Campus hotel complex, located near the Main Street exit of Interstate 290. It fills the traveler-feeding role of the Howard Johnson's of yesteryear. There’s no clam strips, but the boffo décor feels throwback in a good way. Walk by copper-colored panels inset with Art Deco-ish scenes, and the handsome bar roo…

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There are people – good, well-meaning people, friends of mine – who say there’s no such thing as bad barbecue. We’re still friends because we can always settle our differences – with tacos, wings or Chinese regional specialties. Not barbecue, though. Once I began investing 12 to 16 hours babysitting pork butts as they crust up in the smoke, softening to sweetness as the…

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Since learning that India’s 1.3 billion people enjoy at least 30 distinct cuisines, I’ve sighed reading Western New York’s Indian menus. Tandoori chicken is nice, but my hunger for more Indian treasures has only grown. So imagine my fascination when I opened the menu at Nellai Banana Leaf to find 30 or 40 dishes I’d never seen before. South Indian Chettinad cuisine is i…

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One aspect about The Buffalo News’ restaurant reviews that I should have made clear much earlier is how much they are a group act, not a solo performance. Yes, I present my opinions, hopefully with specifics to back them up. But the reason I walk through the door in the first place is usually because of you, my readers. You collectively set my agenda. I try to delive…

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For its first decade, Soho was a Chippewa nightclub, straight up. It served as much food as a liquor license required. The most nutritious mouthful in the place might have been a shot of Jägermeister, which does have 56 herbs and spices, after all. In 2011 Jay Manno and partners decided it was time to shift focus to the next generation of customers, people who prefer…

Food and Drink

Ownership changes are fraught with peril for restaurants. Even if the transaction is prompted by factors other than slumping cash flow, the transition can disrupt systems and working habits polished over years of trial and error. The risk is especially high for a place with hands-on founders, those who lead the kitchen and dining room staff from the front lines. Whether…

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In the movie “Blade Runner,” a bounty hunter chases killer androids through narrow alleys lined by noodle soup counters and lantern-lit brickwork. The movie is set in 2019, which seems exactly right when you walk into Misuta Chow’s today. The restaurant and the movie both rooted their look in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, where crowds fill narrow passageways behind th…