After three weeks of being open, Madonna's is finding its groove. Last evening a couple of us stopped in to sit down to a late dinner, and were pleased to find a number of patrons enjoying the newly renovated bar's vibe. To start, beer-lovers will be very happy to see a strong showing of select beers on the menu, including Lagunitas IPA, Erie Brewing Railbender, Flying Bison Rusty Chain, Redhook ESB, Innus & Gunn Original, Maudite and Ellicottville Seasonal. While we opted for a bottle of Barbera d'Alba, the brew selection was certainly tempting, and will surely bring in a solid beer-loving crowd to the restaurant.
Before I get into Madonna's menu, I would like to talk about the atmosphere, which is minimalist to say the least. Other than a couple of chandeliers, a flatscreen TV and a mural by Matt Grote, the decor is very sparse, which means that the concentration is on the offerings along with the significant design improvements that have been made to the space (see here
). Since we were being seated on the late side, the music in the place had already shifted to an electro-funk meets progressive Euro pop sound. When our waiter offered to change it back to the regular dining music format, we asked that he leave the dial where it was, as we were enjoying the selections that were playing. We also asked that the lights be dimmed a bit, which he did, making the dining experience much more enjoyable.
As for the food, the selections were diverse enough to accommodate all of the palates at the table - from vegetarian on up. The dressing on the Caesar salad was outstanding - a telltale sign that the meal to follow was on course for success. I ordered the fried ravioli (small plate) for myself, but as it turned out I couldn't keep the rest of the table from pilfering from my plate. I must say that the small plates are anything but small... they are enough for an entire meal. My friend ordered the pork belly del giorno and it was right out of a Flintstones' episode. Although it was not my order, I thought that the hands down winner of the evening was the pasta dish (special) with roasted Brussel sprouts, mushrooms and porcini cream sauce - it was out of this world! Another friend felt the same way about his braised lamb shank with pumpkin spinach orzo. He said that the lamb shank was as good as his grandmother used to make. For him to say that was highly unusual because he is usually the first person to tear apart a meal at any given restaurant (very hard to please).
Over all, I'm already a fan of Madonna's and can't wait to go back to eat there again. Walking into the place our expectations were fairly high considering the history of the owners and their successes
on the street. For Italian lovers, this might not be the most traditional place around, but there are enough of those in the city. I'm happy that the menu was given serious thought, and not just thrown together to appease lovers of marinara sauce. I'm already thinking about heading back for a full plate of the pasta before it gets eighty-sixed from the special's menu.
62 Allen Street
Buffalo, NY 14202