Mulberry Italian Restaurant

64 Jackson Avenue

Lackawanna, New York

In the shadows of the Bethlehem Steel Plant, in the City of Lackawanna, Bethlehem Park was once home to hundreds of families of immigrants, mostly Italian, who built their futures on the promise of the American Dream. It is only fitting that down these narrow streets lies a hidden gem of an Italian Restaurant. Mulberry Italian Restaurant prides itself on authentic Italian cuisine, prepared fresh daily, and served in grandiose portions that would have met with both of our Italian grandmothers’ approval.

It was Mr. Diner’s birthday and for what has now become an annual tradition, we made our trek to Lackawanna’s 1st Ward. If you have never been to Bethlehem Park, this once proud ethnic neighborhood on the edges of the abandoned steel mill property is well past its glory days and you might wonder if you made a wrong turn or were given bad directions. Don’t dismay. We assure you that you are not lost. Once you arrive, there is plenty of parking to the side and across the street from this unassuming building, which used to be the Park Grill, local watering hole and gathering place. All of this only adds to the overall charm and pleasant surprise at what lies inside. Those of you who remember Roseland on Road Island Street on the West Side of Buffalo may have a bit of déjà vu.

As you walk in the entrance, the bar area is friendly and inviting. Everyone is looking like they are having a great time. Tonight we were seated quickly. As we ordered our wine for the evening, Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Reserve 2007, recommended by our waitress, we took in the framed pictures on the walls, a hodge-podge of iconic Buffalo locations, sports heroes and classic pictures of Marilyn, Sinatra and The Rat Pack. Appetizers for the evening included Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Sweet Corn, Roasted Mushrooms, Truffle Vinaigrette, and Arugula Pesto, and the Eggplant and Buffalo Mozarella Napoleon with Kalamata Olive Tapenade, both from the specials menu. Meals in and of themselves, they were exquisite.

The house specialty at Mulberry is the self-proclaimed “World Famous Lasagna”. Each night features the day’s special lasagna, with noodles made from scratch, and layer upon layer of heavenly fillings. Expect to have leftovers, because this lasagna is the size of a brick and is as tall as it is wide. Tonight’s feature was Meat Lovers Lasagna – with meatball slices and Italian sausage, for Mr. Diner. This lasagna has no peer. Ms. Diner enjoyed the Pasta alla Giuseppe, shrimps, red onion, garlic, roasted red pepper, diced hot red pepper, roasted roma tomato, artichoke hearts – large portion with jumbo tiger shrimp, plenty of artichokes, not for the faint of heart. Delicate pasta, light sauce with strong garlic flavor, it was almost too spicy, although Ms. Diner was completely satisfied.

For a taste of gourmet Italian cuisine, service with class, in a location with tons of character, we highly recommend Mulberry, Lackawanna’s hidden gem.

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Enjoying The Fair – Chester’s Serves Up A Taste Of Cajun Heaven

The weather has been hotter than anyone can remember. With the back yard grill going full steam and with Ms. Diner trying to convince herself that she needs to diet, we have barely left the house except to go to the beach and to the Erie County Fair. Amidst the seemingly endless chicken and sausage and pizza and fried dough stands is something completely different by Fair food standards. Chester’s, located behind the casino serves up a taste of Cajun heaven. The Jambalaya is to die for – Mr. Diner’s favorite. Chester’s permanent location is at 9416 Transit Road in East Amherst. While this is not an official “Diners” review, if you love Cajun, you will love Chester’s.

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Mason’s Grille 52

52 Main Street

Hamburg, New York

If you haven’t been to the Village of Hamburg for several years you might not recognize the place. If you have, or if you are fortunate enough to call Hamburg your hometown, then you know exactly what we are talking about. Visit Hamburg and enjoy what this friendly community has to offer with its “walkable” central business district, garden path and bird sanctuary, refurbished local community movie theater, The Palace, with first run features at a great price, and a night life that appeals to adults of all ages. Located right on Main Street, Mason’s Grille 52 offers a casual, yet comfortably elegant atmosphere, with a choice of seating ranging from the cozy, more formal dining room, to the more casual bar area, to the open air sidewalk tables, perfect for a warm summer evening. There is plenty to choose from off a solid menu which will appeal to a variety of tastes.

Tonight, Mr. Diner started his evening off with the Roasted Red Pepper Bisque, truly a Mason’s specialty. As the menu emphasizes, it is NOT spicy, but robust with sweet roasted red peppers in a full-flavored parmesan cream sauce. It was absolutely delicious.  Ms. Diner, always a fan of sampling the appetizer menu, started her meal with the Hungarian Peppers, stuffed with a tasty blend of Italian sausage, beef and provolone, topped with parmesan, served with crostini and marinara. For our guests who brought a smaller appetite than usual, Ms. Diner recommended the Stuffed Portabella and Garden Steak Salad. The herb marinated portabella mushroom, stuffed with a blend of beef, Italian sausage, and asiago cheese, topped with melted provolone, is a meal in and of itself. This is probably the best stuffed mushroom in Western New York and one of our all time favorites. The Garden Steak Salad features tasty grilled sirloin, sautéed mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, crumbly blue cheese and mixed greens, topped with an onion ring. Also on the table this evening for all to sample was the Horseradish Bacon BBQ Shrimp. Simply put – it is yummy! Mr. Diner enjoyed the Chef’s Ahi Tuna, cooked rare to perfection, while Ms. Diner savored the Lemon Pepper Chicken from the Specials Menu, topped with a cream sauce, with a light smokey flavor. The portions are generous and once again we ordered much more than we could eat with plenty to take home for tomorrow’s lunch.

Most notable at Mason’s is the friendly, courteous and attentive service, starting with father and son owners Dennis and Damon, who are frequently on-site making sure everything is running smoothly and making each patron feel like a welcome guest of honor, to the servers who attend to every detail, to the bartenders who keep your glass full and your conversation plentiful. Before and after dinner, or just as a place to quench your thirst, Mason’s is a great place to mingle and make friends. There is plenty of parking on the street, in the large public lot across the street behind the bank, or in the rear near the big water tower, accessible from Long Avenue. We highly recommend Mason’s Grille 52. We loved it and we know you will too.

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Creekview Restaurant – Return to the Creekview

Diners Undercover serendipitously return to the Creekview. We didn’t expected to be back so soon, but by sheer act of fate we were invited to dinner with friends. If you read our review from our lunch experience you know that we gave the Creekview high ratings and had planned at some point to return for dinner. We were equally impressed with our dinner experience and the best part of the evening was the live music by the incredibly talented duo Busted Stuff. The Creekview Cosmos are awesome.

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Creekview Restaurant

5629 Main Street

Williamsville, New York

Our visit today is of the luncheon variety. Situated in a historic building overlooking the falls of Ellicott Creek, the Creekview provides a relaxed, comfortable setting and the food is, quite simply, delicious. The menu features American fare with the pizzaz of international cuisine, what the restaurant refers to as American Fusion. We requested a table “outside”, which refers to the enclosed patio area with sliding glass windows, almost directly over the bank of the creek. As we waited for our drinks, a McSorley’s Ale from the tap for Mr. Diner, and a Creekside Cosmo for Ms. Diner, we watched as two ducks playfully navigated the rapids and rocks below.

The Stuffed Mushrooms appetizer with sausage, spinach and mozzarella cheese were absolutely to die for. I think maybe our favorite ever. The mozzarella and ricotta cheese in the Hot Stuffed Banana Peppers could have used a bit more seasoning for flavor, but overall, the appetizers were a good warm-up for what was to come.

For Ms. Diner, the California Greens Salad was a healthy choice, with a generous portion of Portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, with a light balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The highlight of this wonderful salad was crunchy on the outside and mouth watering creamy delight inside. What looked like “hush puppies” were actually balls of goat cheese with a fried crusted exterior. They were delicious and made the whole salad.

Mr. Diner’s choice was a house specialty. The Creekview steak sandwhich, titled “Our Famous Steak Sandwich”, was a heavenly slice of tenderloin that simply melted in your mouth, with sauteed mushrooms, spinach and Roquefort, grilled on garlic-toasted kaiser. We dare say that this is the best steak sandwhich in Western New York.

For a delightful meal with a friendly atmosphere and attentive service on the edge of nature, the Creekview Restaurant is just the ticket. We must return and sample the dinner menu. We highly recommend the Creekview Restaurant. Bon appetite!

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