Fritz Bar and Restaurant

Stowehof Inn and Resort

434 Edson Hill Road

Stowe, Vermont

It is with regret that we report this hidden gem has been PERMANENTLY CLOSED.

It certainly has been a long cold lonely winter. When the snow is deep and the air is crisp, what else better to do than to go on a ski trip. Mr. and Ms. Diner had the great pleasure of spending a few wonderful days up in the mountains of Vermont. Although at times the temperature was double digit negative, the sky was blue and the slopes were magnificent. We stayed on the property owned by the von Trapp family. Yes, the very same von Trapp family from that timeless classic, The Sound of Music. It seems that the Captain and his family, after they escaped from Austria through the mountains, moved to Vermont and started a lodge. As lovely as it is, that is not what this entry is about. We had the good fortune to be taken to a local inn, which we soon found out also has a famous history. The Stowehof Inn and Resort was the filming location for the movie The Four Seasons, directed by and starring Alan Alda. This brings us to today’s hidden gem. In the basement of the Stowehof Inn is a quaint little pub. Fritz Bar and Restaurant is as rustic as its old wooden timbers, rumoured to be from the property of none other than Vermont’s own famous patriot, Ethan Allen. This is a friendly, welcoming place, with a wonderful fireplace, perfect for the alpine backdrop that is Vermont. While the menu has been revamped since our last visit, you can still get the most juicy, tasty hamburger, made from the finest quality beef, with all the fixin’s, prepared exactly to your liking, and a draft beer from a selection of tasty Vermont microbrews. Yes, we know this is out of the way, but if you ever make it to Stowe, Vermont, you must visit Fritz Bar and Restaurant. It is one of those hidden gem experiences you won’t soon forget.

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Osteria 166

Osteria 166

166 Franklin Street

Buffalo, New York 14202

On the corner of Mohawk and Franklin in the shadow of the Convention Center, Nick Pitillo has created one of the most interesting new meeting places in the downtown area and one of the finest new Italian style restaurants in Western New York. In Italy the name itself, Osteria, literally means public house, inn, or casual meeting place. It is a labor of love for “Uncle” Nick Pitillo and his family, Chef Jeff Cooke, and the entire staff. The bar area has an unmistakable big city vibe, but the attitude is classic Buffalo friendly. When the weather is fine, the windows open wide to Mohawk Place and outdoor patio seating where evenings often feature live music by the likes of 2014 Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Inductee Geno McManus and guitarist Michael DiSanto. While the bar is typically full of “Who’s Who” of downtown Buffalo, many smartly dressed in business suits or dresses, the dining area is casual and comfortable, where old style black and white family pictures on the wall remind you this is a family restaurant.

The temptation to over eat is great with this amazingly varied and unique menu of Italian delights. While there is plenty of pasta and sauce on the menu, this is not your typical spaghetti and meatball kind of place. Chef Jeff has presented an interesting variety of Italian styled meats and seafood, uniquely prepared and presented. The wine list is varied and plentiful. Our wine was a lovely Argentine Malbec, Finca el Origen. On this particular outing, Mr. and Ms. Diner split an appetizer and an entrée, which was plenty satisfying for our big appetites. We started with “The Carl”. The menu describes “The Carl” as Italian Sausage, topped with a giant meatball, sautéed banana peppers, onions and melted Mozzarella cheese. The only way for us to describe “The Carl” is a giant tower of meat smothered in all kinds of Italian goodness. Think meat lasagna without the noodles. We also aren’t buying that this contains plain “melted Mozzarella cheese” as it is far too creamy and rich, which goes exceptionally well with the light tomato sauce. “The Carl” is a meat lover’s dream!

Next up was the Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomato Ravioli, featuring roasted eggplant, Ricotta cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto, crushed tomato marinara and eggplant caponatta. We can imagine “Nanni” in the kitchen rolling, stuffing and sealing this pasta delight, cooked to al dente perfection. You can actually see the fork marks around the edges. This is probably the best ravioli Mr. Diner has ever had. What a truly satisfying meal this was. We couldn’t stop talking about it all evening.

We highly recommend Osteria 166. If you are from the suburbs and haven’t been downtown lately, Osteria 166 is your excuse to come back to the city. If you are from the city and you haven’t been there, it is time to try this treasure in your own backyard.

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The Dove Restaurant

The Dove Restaurant

3002 Abbott Road

Orchard Park, New York 14127

After a long hiatus, Diners Undercover is back in action and inspired by today’s Hidden Gem, The Dove Restaurant, located in Orchard Park, situated near the borders of Hamburg, West Seneca and Lackawanna, New York. The Dove Restaurant offers authentic Italian-Continental cuisine in a quiet, comfortable setting. To say that the The Dove Restaurant is quaint is an understatement. In what was once The Pony Post, The Dove has a dining area that is roomy, yet warm and cozy, with the charm of an old country inn. This wonderful establishment features family recipes prepared under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Dina Mattielo, who is co-owner along with Sherry Davies. Both of these ladies are often seen conferring with guests to make sure that all are satisfied. As we have stated in the past, we love establishments where the owners are involved and make it a point to meet their customers. As a result the service at The Dove is friendly, attentive and welcoming.

Our server greeted us with a smile as we walked in and at our request seated us at a table in the bar area in front of the faux fire place. The bar area is inviting and roomy with comfortable tables for dining which Mr. and Ms. Diner prefer as the clear white lighting against the beautiful old windows and bar adds to the charm.

The wine list is modest but varied and our choice of wine for the evening was a reasonably priced bottle of Penfolds Shiraz. For Mr. Diner the soup was a very authentic Past Fagioli served with bowls of grated Parmesan and chopped onions on the side. This is a very nice home-style touch as the cheese and onions can be added to taste, and the Parmesan is handy later for a pasta entre if desired. The presentation is reminiscent of our dining experiences throughout Northern and Central Italy. Ms. Diner enjoyed the wonderfully arranged Mixed Greens Salad. It is at this point in the meal, just before the main course, that the The Dove Restaurant adds another touch of old word style with a complementary, palate cleansing taste of Lemoncello.

Mr. Diner thoroughly enjoyed the entre, the Shrimp Luciano, which featured shrimp and mussels over linguine, in a garlic and olive oil sauce. It was both rich and delicious. Ms. Diner’s selection from the daily specials was the Chicken Milano, Fra Diavolo, with ricotta chicken sausage stuffing and a marinara that was just spicy enough, but not overpowering. The portion sizes were more than adequate. While there would normally be more than enough to take home, our healthy appetites had the upper hand; however, there was no room left for dessert.

We love The Dove Restaurant for the authentic Italian cuisine, the warm and friendly atmosphere, and the very reasonable price tag. We think you will too. We highly recommend The Dove Restaurant and will be sure to return again and again.

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It’s Been A Long Winter

It’s been a long winter and an unusually long hiatus for the dynamic duo of dining. Family and other matters have kept us mainly indoors and hibernating for the winter. Well, we have been out and about just a little, but mostly back to our favorite haunts and really have not had anything new to add. There is one place worth a special mention coming up soon. We have a fresh list of targets for spring and hope to be bringing many fresh reviews coming soon. One of the great benefits of living in Western New York is that we have some of the best food anywhere. We are looking forward to a great spring and a hot summer. Bon Appetite!

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Pasquale’s (East Aurora)

242 Main Street

East Aurora, New York

It was another weekend excursion and we were off to Arcade for a ride on the Arcade and Attica Railroad. If you haven’t experienced this nostalgic journey back in time, we suggest you give a whirl. On our way home we were hungry and ventured from Arcade up to East Aurora. We were entertaining a couple of tweens for the day and were looking for something reasonably priced and family friendly. Pasquale’s on Main Street seemed to fit the bill.

Italian Wedding Soup was the “Soup of the Day” and the starter for Ms. Diner who seemed to enjoy it. Mr. Diner equally enjoyed his salad, topped with balsamic vinaigrette with crumbly blue cheese. For the kids, it was the ever dependable Spaghetti with Meatballs for one and Fettuccine Alfredo for the other. Ms. Diner brought a bit less of an appetite than usual, so she sampled a taste from each of the youngster’s plates. Mr. Diner ordered the Fruitti Di Mare with an abundance of scallops, shrimp, mussels and crab, sautéed with bell peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms in a garlic wine sauce served on a bed of angel hair pasta. This dish was quite flavorful and enjoyable once the delicious wine sauce mixed thoroughly with the generous bed of angel hair pasta. While our servers earned good marks for courtesy, friendliness and hustle, there were several people waiting on our table at once, which made the dining experience a bit chaotic. We weren’t quite sure who our waitress was, our sodas came without ice and our entrees were served while we were halfway through with the soups and salads, which created a bit of a train wreck at the table.

Despite the chaos, all in all Pasquale’s served up a satisfying meal, in a family atmosphere, at a good price. If you are looking for value, aren’t picky about protocol and simply want a tasty meal with no frills and a friendly wait staff, Pasquale’s is the place.

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