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by Matt Steinberg

If you’re craving Italian food, Buffalo has you covered. From Chef’s downtown to Cecelia’s in the Elmwood Village to Lombardo’s in North Buffalo, there are a ton of places here where you can satisfy your pasta jones. This is also community that loves mom and pop places – we are serious locavores. This being said, there is a chain place out in the ‘burbs that you should seriously consider trying. Bravo! is located on the ground level of the Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga, and I had a fantastic lunch there recently. My friend, who is an Italian cuisine connoisseur, recommended that we go there, and I wasn’t disappointed. She started with a delicious tomato bisque, followed by a perfectly pressed mozzarella, tomato and pesto panini, while I had salad and a wonderful plate of lasagna that seemed to be homemade. The decor is a fun, family friendly Romain ruin, and the menu had something for everyone’s taste.

I know what you’re thinking – it’s a chain, and it’s in the mall. But don’t let that stop you – Bravo isn’t your typical mall eatery. It’s definitely worth a trip.

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by Jennifer Starkey, E-Marketing Manager, Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.

…has ended. Well, not really the biggest war. That would probably have to go to our 4-year superbowl loss. Eek, we won’t go there. Last night was the premier of Food Wars Buffalo on the Travel Channel.

Yesterday, I went to Duff’s to watch the show with some friends and a huge crowd. I came in and sat at the bar near two men who were from New Hampshire. They were going on and on about how much they loved Buffalo, the people, and especially the food and of course the wings. I didn’t say a peep.

The owners of Duff’s and their family were there along with Drew Cerza (the Wing King) who also runs the National Buffalo Wing Festival. I was being introduced as the ‘hero’. HA! A hero for being the deciding vote for Duff’s? That’s not really hero status in my book, but hey, I’ll take it. It is a Buffalo brawl after all.

The show began at 10pm and there I was larger than life on national t.v.. It was kind of surreal. And, fyi, the camera REALLY does add 10lbs. At least I hope….. Anyway, as soon as the announcer said Jennifer Starkey and I was shown, the two New Hampshire guys turned to me and did a quadrupal take. I smiled and waved. haha. They thought it was so funny that I just let them go on and on about the show before it began and didn’t say a word.

The show was hysterical and so dramatic! Far more dramatic than it was during the filming. We love our wings. We have the best. But, really Duff’s and the Anchor Bar are buddies. They are in competition a lot, but they work together for the betterment of Buffalo.

I was nervous watching the show. Picture it. The votes were tied. Andrew, a food critic for the Buffalo News, sided with Duff’s. Rob Ray, former Buffalo Sabre, sided with Anchor Bar. The two super fans from each place were split. Inside Duff’s, Drew takes my hand and has me stand up in front of all of the Duff’s fans. On t.v. the camera zooms to me, also the only female on the panel.

My heart is beating like crazy as I’m standing up in front of everyone. When it was filmed, I was so nervous I almost forgot which plate letter I wrote down. I say, “I chose plate…” COMMERCIAL. They went to commercial!! It was like going on a roller coaster. You prepare yourself for the drop and then it just stops there for a few seconds.

My phone starts going crazy. 23 texts. Yes I counted. “Who is it?” “If you picked Anchor Bar we can’t be friends.” “I hope you picked Duff’s.” I told you it was a war.

The show came back on and the roller coaster jolted. “I chose plate…….A!” Duff’s wins!!!

So the biggest question has been why I chose Duff’s. Well, I always order my wings the same. Flats only, medium, extra sauce. Anchor Bar’s wings had some strong qualities, they were meatier but more mild. Duff’s wings were a little crispier and spicier with a thicker sauce. It was a hard choice but I went for the heat and chose Duff’s. I do encourage everyone to try both though. Anchor Bar was the original afterall! Just because I was the deciding vote on t.v. doesn’t mean I have ended the war. On the contrary, I may have only added fuel to the flame.

And, hopefully Anchor Bar doesn’t put a photo of me in their entrance with a Do Not Enter sign.

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by Karen Huefner

A good night at the casino for most is leaving with a fist full of cash (or who are we kidding, breaking even is a blessing). But when this girl hits the Seneca Niagara Casino, a good night can be summed up in one word: buffet. Sure, the slot machines and roulette tables are enticing but I can hit the jackpot every time at the Thunder Falls buffet.

This is not your ho-hum Ponderosa. This is all-you-can-eat crab legs, sushi, strip steak with a side of shrimp scampi, fresh halibut and topped off with a hearty helping of grandma’s apple pie. It’s like they know just what you’re craving that night and then lay it out in front of you under beaming lights and in mouth-watering abundance. Everything is fresh, plentiful and most important – extra tasty! With so many options, there’s something to please every tastebud. It’s funny because anytime a buffet is in front of me, I always eat this random combination of food because I want everything! It’s a beautiful way to eat sometimes.

Oh, and if you’re looking to get your fill at 9am, check back for their equally as indulgent weekend breakfast buffet.

You won’t leave hungry. Best odds you’ll see all night.

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