We are pumped to introduce our newest Buffalo Foodie, Mike Harrington from the Buffalo News. Mike writes a Baseball column for the paper along with writing the occasional article about the Sabres on the Buffalo New’s Sabres Blog Sabres Edge and writing for their baseball blog Inside Pitch. Even though I’m not the biggest baseball fan (ok I’m not really a fan at all), I’ve been following Mike on twitter and keeping up with the latest news on the playoffs and what’s going on with the Sabres.
We got a hold of Mike and were able to send some questions, he responded with some awesome answers about his favorite restaurants in the area. So get ready to change your dinner plans tonight because he’s got some great suggestions below…
Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Buffalo?
Mike: There’s so many things that jump at me. I hear so much griping lately about Chef’s but come on. I can’t get enough of the pasta fagioli in addition to the spaghetti parm. But it’s not all about them. Chicken parm at Santasiero’s does the trick and I can tell the sauce at Ilio DiPaolo’s on a blind taste test. And don’t forget DiTondo’s.
The chili and milk shakes at Lake Effect Diner. The macaroni and cheese at Fat Bob’s. Good salads and such at Pearl Street. The best grilled cheese sandwich ever is at Spot. Great sandwiches at Marco’s on Hertel too. Great chicken dishes at the Grapevine in Amherst and a great Sunday brunch there and at the Red Mill Inn in Clarence.
Why can’t Papa John’s or Domino’s (or even Pizza Hut) really make a foothold here? Obvious. Between La Nova, Bocce and Franco’s, there’s no way to get in. Throw in the steak or All Parm pies from Just Pizza or the slices at Zettis and the personal cheese from Carbone’s on South Park that we love at One News Plaza and it’s easy to see why.
Love Carl’s Choice at Anderson’s (and I’m online checking out the custard calendars for Cinnamon), and onion rings at Ted’s. Every press box fountain in America should have Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry. Stumbled on the Silo in Lewiston over the summer — before the Food Network did — and thought it was awesome too.
Where do you like grab a drink and relax with some friends and/or family?
Mike: The schedule of night work and travel makes it tough. Hockey writers tend to hang out at the Swannie House after games. I prefer Founding Fathers for a fabulous Independence burger, the free nacho bar and Mike Driscoll’s great Presidential trivia. And where else can you tell which restroom is which by the pictures of George and Martha Washington?
(Fathers warning: No fryer. So no wings or fries. I’ve gotten along fine without that there for more than 20 years!).
If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where would you go to show them a good Buffalo time?
Mike: They may all want Anchor Bar or Duff’s but I’d steer them to Gabriel’s Gate for the best wings. Then there’s Casa Di Pizza, ETS and Jim’s. And they have to go to Father’s too. And probably the Hatch. I tell all the visiting media at the Hyatt not to look out the front door but to look out the back. Go on Pearl and Chippewa. Head to Delaware and take a walk down Elmwood. If it’s the spring and summer, take a walk on the marina. Awesome. Why do we call it Main Street? Change the name so people don’t think that’s the main drag in town when there’s nothing on it!
As a native Western New Yorker, what kinds of food memories do you have from growing up here?
Mike: My grandparents were Italian and I got my start at a long-last favorite, the old Coppola’s on William (was followed by Billy Ogden’s). They had rigatoni and meatballs to die for and I would get agitated when the waitresses would ask if I wanted the child’s portion. My mother would get agitated because that was the only place I’d eat a salad at. They had wonderful crunchy lettuce and lots of provolone in there.
Memo to restaurants: Enough with the mesculn and arugula salads. Iceberg please. And make sure it’s cold and crunchy, not brown and wilted.
I made many trips to the Como in Niagara Falls too. Haven’t been there in years. Should go back.
Since you’ve traveled a lot because of your job, what kinds of restaurants/cuisines do you wish Buffalo had more of?
Mike: Sorry Chop House and EB Greens, we need a Fogo de Chao in Buffalo. Google it. The most brilliant food extravaganza in the world. Brazilian steakhouse with meat, meat and more meat.
Buffalo is a great indie restaurant town. I’ve been going to Cleveland for 15 years and still can’t find much to talk about so I end up at the Olive Garden when I’m hungry because at least the food will always be decent.
I don’t have a lot of cuisine wishes. I’m not looking for more Thai, vegan or Vietnamese places like I’ve heard other people talk about. Enough steak, seafood and spaghetti places do it for me.
I’d love some Chik-Fil-A or Steak and Shake or Sonic here. Glad we got Checkers at the airport at least.
Any way to get Primanti’s from Pittsburgh or Schwartz’s Deli from Montreal to show up here?!
And one last word to chains: In Buffalo, they’re chicken wings. They’re not Buffalo wings. That means you Friday’s, among others. That’s like the fans chanting, “Let’s Go, Sabres” in HSBC Arena. I’m with WECK’s Brad Riter and others on this one. It’s “Let’s Go, Buff-a-lo.” Parents, get your kids with the program on that one, please.
We’d like to thank Mike for taking some time out of his busy schedule with the MLB playoffs and writing about the Sabres to answer our questions. Again check out his column or his work on Sabres Edge or Inside Pitch. Also if you are on twitter, I highly suggest you follow him and at least keep up to date with the sports world 140 characters at a time.