Ilio DiPaolo’s

3785 South Park Avenue

Blasdell, New York

Wrestling legend Ilio DiPaolo was a giant of a man with a giant heart. Anyone who remembers going to his restaurant so many years ago will remember his great big smile and the warmth and friendliness one felt being greeted by this wonderful man, as if being personally welcomed into his home for dinner. He set the bar for what a family restaurant was supposed to be. Everyone was welcome and everyone was “Gumba!”. Today, Dennis and Michael DiPaolo, the DiPaolo Family, and staff, continue the tradition.

As expected, from the moment we walked in we were treated warmly and made to feel like the most important customers in the place. Our waitress was bubbly, entertaining, and seemed to enjoy opening our bottle of wine, Montepulciano di Abruzzo, as much as we enjoyed tasting it. First came our visit by Aldo who checked in to see that everything was to our satisfaction. Then Dennis came by to say hello and to see how the family is doing. DiPaolo’s sure knows how to do it right.

The stuffed mushrooms, smothered in parmesan cheese with fresh lemon, were yummy. The salads were tasty, except Ms. Diner whined the whole time how much she dislikes iceberg, that there wasn’t enough green leaf, and that Mr. Diner got all the chick peas. Mr. Diner’s salad was perfect, with balsamic vinegarette and crumbly bleu cheese. Mr. Diner ordered his favorite Ilio’s dish, veal parmesan with a side of penne. Mr. Diner goes on record saying that Ilio DiPaolo’s has the best veal parm in the Eastern United States. Ms. Diner was less impressed with her lasagna and thought it could have used a bit more meat.

So it seems that it was a split decision: Mr. Diner loved his meal and Ms. Diner not as much, today. We both agreed that the service was outstanding, our meals were a great value, and we will definitely be coming back again.

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Waterstone Grill

3679 Commerce Place (at Camp Road)

Hamburg, New York

Tonight we went to the Waterstone Grill with another couple.

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1104 Elmwood Avenue

Buffalo, New York

Coles on Elmwood Avenue, established in 1934, is a longtime traditional Buffalo night spot. Located on the far north end of the Elmwood strip, Coles is well known by Elmwood locals for its vibe and eclectic beer menu, consisting of a wide range of both draught and bottled beers from around the globe. If there is a more robust beer menu in Western New York, we would love hear about it. We were out late after 9 pm on the Elmwood strip. We were hungry and wanted something to eat that didn’t involve subs, tacos or fast food. Then we remembered that Coles serves dinner. After grabbing one of the many cozy booths, we ordered two Stone Smoke Porters with chocolate and coffee overtones, and a splash of vanilla. As we waited, we noticed the interesting decor full of Buffalo neighborhood history, especially the ornate hanging lights which apparently found their way to Coles from a local church. The service was quick and crisp, with no frills, but precise and friendly. When our drinks arrived we toasted and tasted. Ms. Diner is not typically a beer drinker; however she has learned to enjoy and appreciate a good flavorful microbrew since being introduced to flavorful beers by Mr. Diner. She overwhelmingly approved of the choice. For an appetizer, we ordered the stuffed banana peppers. Three lightly breaded peppers with four cheeses, topped with marinara and mozzarella, served with garlic bread. It was heavenly. Mr. Diner, wanting a no nonsense hearty meal, ordered the Black & Blue Burger, with Kobe beef for the extra $4.25. It was delicious, cooked to a perfect medium, and very satisfying. Ms. Diner ordered a second appetizer, the Baked Artichoke and Spinach Dip, with artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, spinach, mozzarella & cream cheese. It was delicious and creamy, with generous amounts of artichoke and spinach. We highly recommend Coles if you are looking for good drinks and a straight forward and hearty meal at a good price. We will definitely be back to Coles to eat the next time we are hanging out on the Elmwood strip.

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Coyote Café

36 Main Street

Hamburg, New York

Today we had dinner at the Coyote Café in the Village of Hamburg. For casual Mexican, the Coyote Café is one of the area’s great choices. The Cantina at the back entrance provides a stimulating Southwest theme. Here you can choose to hang out for a bit before sitting down to eat. The bartenders provide service with a smile and great frozen margaritas or sangria slushes while you wait for your table. We love the complementary salsa and chips; however, be careful because they are addicting and can fill you up before you are served your delicious entrees. The menu has a good selection of tacos, barritos, enchalatas, and chimichangas served with your choice of salsa, from mild to hot. The fajitas are one of our favorites and are big enough for two. We can’t comment on the desserts because we never seem to have enough room for them. On this particular day, our waitress was polite, but very inexperienced. This is a great place for a party and they do catering to bring the party to you. The Cayote Café is also a fun weekend location to simply hang out with friends.

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1375 Deleware Avenue

Buffalo, New York

Diners Undercover strikes again! Well Ok, this was our first time striking, so we decided to go big. We were going to spend a few bucks and hit one of Buffalo’s finest upscale locations. Our destination: Hutch’s on Delaware Avenue. Their online menu seemed creative and diverse. Neither of us had ever been there before, so with open minds (and open wallet), we put on our snazzy attire and headed to the city.

The place was hopping, even after 8pm when we arrived. We were hoping for a romantic dinner and for a brief moment we began to think this would not be possible with the noise and bustle. Fortunately, we quickly found the restaurant is set up with small sectioned off areas with private nooks and cranny’s for an intimate experience.

From the moment we walked in the service was impeccable. From the well-dressed hostess with a pleasant smile, to the debonair bartender quick to recommend a fantastic wine, to our waiter, who despite looking like he just graduated from high school, did not leave a single detail unattended.

Our appetizers were absolutely delicious. Both the stuffed poblano pepper with black bean and corn salsa, and the amazing mussel stew with andouille sausage, were meals in and of themselves. Truthfully, after our delicious appetizers and generous salads (tomato mozzarella basil and spinach salad with warm bacon pommery dressing), not to mention the bartender’s recommended Paso Robles 2008, we already were completely satisfied. Yet, we couldn’t resist our entrees, chosen from their evening specials, the bone-in tenderloin, a very generous portion done to perfection, served with snap peas and garlic mashed potatoes, and yellow fin tuna, sesame seed crusted, with wasabi and ginger, prepared exactly as ordered (somewhere between rare and medium rare). The portions were surprisingly generous and despite coming with hearty appetites, we were able to bring home large portions of our entrees to enjoy the following afternoon.

We would be shirking our duty if we didn’t warn you that the total on the check was as ample as the portions, but we both agreed that the meal and the experience was worth every penny and we would definitely be coming back again. As we walked to our car with full tummy’s and a much lighter wallet, we knew that our first mission was a complete success. We had gone undetected under the cover of Saturday night date night and disappeared into the darkness, until our next adventure.

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