The Italian Festival is in full swing. I’m not one for schlepping the family through three hours of “fun” at any festival held on asphalt in 85 degree weather. Short jaunts suit me fine, and a number of the area food festivals are a neat alternative to a traditional office lunch. We stopped by early yesterday for a few bites and these are a few of the highlights.
Lombardo’s has really outdone themselves this year. They’ve converted their lovely outdoor patio to a cute and swanky cocktail bar, giving folks who enjoy more than beer and wine a nice option. Chef Salvati has also added a few new menu items, including a BBQ pulled pork sandwich and crispy parmesan and parsley dusted french fries, served with a spicy sambal and basil ketchup. YUM!
Across the street, Carl and Susie Schmitter have small bottles of wine available at their local-centric wine shop, Chateau Buffalo. They’ve bottled their simple and refreshing Perry Pirouette (a pear-based drink) and also their dry red, Nouveau, in single-serve sized-bottles. The Nouveau is available temporarily under the Hertel Has It! label, encouraging community pride. If you’ve never stopped in to Chateau Buffalo, this is a great opportunity to do so.
We nearly passed by the very understated stand marked “Misso’s” until I noticed they were selling sfingi (Italian doughnuts). The large baseball-sized puffs of airy dough are nearly hollow inside, but the dusting of powdered sugar and a dab of honey make them both heavenly and a great value (only $2 – $3 for a small order). The cardoon and egg sandwich offered here wasn’t bad, either.
It’s no surprise that there are a lot of stands selling Italian sausage, but in my mind, no trip to the Italian Festival would be complete without a sausage smothered in peppers and onions from Johnny’s Meats. Slow-cooked tripe in red sauce is also a favorite.
Joe’s Deli, one of Buffalo’s best delis, hands down, will be serving up its famous rendition of the New Orleans’ muffuletta. No one else in town gets this sandwich the way Joe’s does. Also on the menu is a killer chicken cutlet sandwich. Some of the best food at the fest can definitely be found here.
Panaro’s is one of Buffalo’s best kept secrets, a tiny and very authentic Italian-American lunch spot located on Delaware near Allen. The folks at Panaro’s bring their family recipes to the festival, treating attendees to handmade meatballs in sauce, braciole, stuffed banana peppers, and this year, the famous Chocolate Cassata Cake that helped decorator Tony Concialdi win Nickel City Cake Challenge: Wedding in Buffalo just a few months ago. People are still talking about just how moist and delicious that cake really was.
This weekend tune in to Buffalo Rising to catch Rachael Vella’s post on the fest’s best cannoli. Tough assignment, right?
In the meantime, tell us what you liked most!