Quick Bites: Byblos Restaurant & Bar, Besta Pizza

Over the years I’ve learned about the delicious world of Lebanese cuisine thanks to my best friend Mike. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, but I’ve definitely had my fair share of Lebanese food at restaurants and have been lucky enough to enjoy a couple home cooked meals. For those who haven’t visited Byblos or Mezza (the only other WNY restaurant that specializes in Lebanese food), this Middle Eastern cuisine will probably be somewhat familiar to you. Some of what they offer isn’t that much different then what you may find at your local Greek diner/restaurant, including hummus, grape leaves and various salads.

When I pulled into the parking lot for Byblos, I actually thought I had gone to the wrong place. The building looks more like a house than a restaurant and it’s a little off the beaten path. Without knowing any better, this place looks like it would be serving food like reubens and french onion soup, not falafel and shawarma. The inside of the restaurant is a little dated and when I visited on a Monday for lunch it was pretty dead inside and it took some time for a server to realize I was there waiting. On a recent Friday visit the restaurant was much busier and someone noticed almost right away.

On that first visit I ordered the Beef Shawarma (pictured above) off the lunch sandwich menu that’s served on a thin pita. The actual size of the wrap isn’t that large and might leave some large appetites still wanting more. The beef was unfortunately really tough and if it wasn’t for the tahini sauce and vegetables, the whole thing would have been pretty bad. The Spinach Pies (gallery) were really bad though. When they came to the table it was clear they had not been heated through. The first pie was a little cold on the inside but still edible, the second had actual ice crystals on the inside.

I decided to stop by on a Thursday for another visit but found the doors locked, at that point I was considering writing off the restaurant and thinking I’d never go back. Last Friday I made a last effort to try the food for a second time, again I ordered a lunch sandwich (Falafel) and another appetizer (Kibbie Kabob). The Falafel sandwich (gallery) was also a little small, but the falafel had a nice flavor and texture and I added some feta for an extra $1 which made it even better. The Kibbie Kabob’s (gallery) had a nice crispy crunch on the exterior, but it was the filling of sweet onions and pine nuts that provided a majority of the flavor. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of beef in either of the fried balls, leaving me disappointed.

My second visit to Byblos was more enjoyable then the first but the small portion sizes and underwhelming food was still a disappointment. Combined with some poor customer service, frozen food and a new fancy Falafel Bar about 10 minutes away, it’s safe to say I won’t be visiting again.

Even though I think Bocce is serving some of the best pizza in WNY, I still like to try new places to see what I’m missing. Besta Pizza is located in the popular plaza on Millersport that also houses Burrito Bay, Chinese Cookery and several other dining options. I’ve noticed over time that Besta can draw a very large lunch crowd so I was wondering how good their pizza could be. Turns out that it’s not very good.

On my first visit I grabbed a slice of cheese (pictured above) and a couple wings (gallery), it was a walk in special and the pizza and wings were sitting in a warming case. When I got back to my office (a short 5 minute drive away) I noticed that this pizza had been made a long time ago. It was lukewarm and the texture of the crust (cardboard) reminded me of the horrible lunch-room pizza that was served at my high school. The chicken wings (gallery) weren’t as bad but nothing to travel out of your way for and were a little dried out, the BBQ were definitely the most impressive with a nice char and a sweet BBQ sauce.

Again, I thought about writing this place off forever but I decided to go back again and try their pizza one more time. On my second visit the pizza was fresher and warm so I was able to notice more of the flavors but didn’t enjoy their sweet/tangy sauce. Considering Bocce is right down the street and nearby Elmo’s/Amherst Ale House have a good chicken wing, it’s hard to find any reason for me to visit ever again. They have a much larger menu than what I tried, but the majority of the customers during the lunch hours were ordering wings and pizza on the spot. They do have subs but there’s also John & Mary’s right next door. Unless I’m missing something or I went at a really bad time, I do not recommend it.

Photo Gallery:

Byblos Authentic Lebanese on UrbanspoonBesta Pizza on Urbanspoon

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