Sometimes when I leave work on my lunch break, I have no idea where I’m going. I try to figure it out in the car and hopefully I find myself somewhere new. A couple weeks ago I start driving down Maple Rd and thought something would stick out. Nothing did. Just before I gave up and decided ‘today’s the day I try a Doritos taco’, I noticed the Toni Pepperoni sign. Located in the same plaza as Tea Leaf Cafe and the Library, Toni Pepperoni is a restaurant that seems specifically geared towards the large UB student population nearby. I didn’t know too much about the restaurant besides their business model and that my cousin enjoys eating there for lunch.
A pizza buffet can only be so good, right? I’m fairly confident that pizza is not made for buffet style eating but somehow I remember having good experiences at Pizza Hut as a kid and more recently, Franco’s. The key to a quality buffet is fresh food that’s changed regularly. Stale pizza and chicken fingers might make for a good breakfast on a lazy Sunday when you are 19, but not for lunch on a workday.
When you walk into Toni Pepperoni, there’s a cashier who will cash you out before you enter the restaurant. It’s actually an efficient process and once you pay, you are left on your own. There’s your typical salad bar, a long line of pizza’s and pasta and around the far corner are chicken fingers, french fries and a pop machine. In case unlimited pop, pizza and french fries weren’t enough of a sell for kids, the restaurant also has some arcade machines.
I tried a couple different slices of pizza; Zesty, BBQ Chicken, Pepperoni and finally their Dessert pizza. I had mixed results with the slices, the zesty was heavy on the pepper and the BBQ Chicken was incredibly dry. The pepperoni pizza was the freshest pizza available and was actually very good (thankfully).
The chicken fingers weren’t good either, again the problem was how fresh they were and in this case they were luke warm at best. The french fries had a similiar issue. I decided to call it a meal and try their fried dough and dessert pizza. The fried dough was a little stale but the dessert pizza was pretty great, like a very thick piece of cinnamon toast.
I see some small potential with Toni Pepperoni, the one fresh slice of pizza that I tried was actually really good. They had an impressive selection of pizzas; I counted ten different types. Unfortunately, there was virtually no one there when I visited the restaurant for a week day lunch and maybe the lack of customers meant a lack of food turnover. I’m sure there are plenty of college kids who will love Toni Pepperoni based on the price (under $10 with drink) and ability to fill up with unlimited pizza. But if I’m in the area, I will spend a couple extra dollars and get a fresher and tastier lunch.