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DiGiulio’s Delight

It is a rarity to find a restaurant as elegant as it is comfortable, with a menu that can please picky eaters and foodies alike. DiGiulio & Co. on Hertel is a delightful example of one of these atypical finds. Set back against the nearby storefronts, a very welcoming patio with a garden of beautiful flowers and fresh (utilized!) herbs welcomes diners into the restaurant.
DiGiulio’s is a truly exquisite space—including an open kitchen with attached bar seating, a large and inviting dining area with a picturesque glass ceiling, a sizeable bar, and a well decorated private room. Deanna DiGiulio, partner and daughter of Joanne DiGiulio, warmly greeted us. Beautiful, framed line drawings decorate the perimeter, and the carefully designed seating creates a stylish and relaxed atmosphere. DiGiulio’s is equally inviting to couples, families and singles who are looking for a night out.
We started with a glass of Chianti, to warm our palates. It was not exactly what we were looking for because of the unbalanced quality of the wine, so I was impressed when Deanna came over with better options from their wine list. It is always a good sign when an owner has high standards and wants to improve weak spots. She brought several red wine options better suited to complement our meals. The two that stood out were the California Cabernet Sauvignon, Sawbuck 2005, a wine high in residual sugar and full in flavor, but smooth on the palate; and the Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2006 from Clarksville, CA, which is full of fruit and spice, yet very well balanced.

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Our first tasting, the Array of Stuffed Mushrooms ($12) in which Chef Nick Leszczynski individually stuffed three crimini mushrooms and paired each with its own complementary sauce. The first was stuffed with crab and drizzled with a lemon beurre blanc-esque sauce, the next with chunks of sirloin paired with a house made teriyaki reduction, and the unanimous favorite: an in-house, flavored turkey sausage, with a sweet, smoky bacon chutney. Successfully revamping the concept of stuffed mushrooms and presenting it uniquely, well seasoned, and texturally exciting, this dish was a fair introduction to what was to come.
We were presented with a tasting platter from appetizers off the standard dinner menu consisting of DiGiulio’s fried calamari, a stuffed pepper, roasted beets, and stacked polenta. The Crispy Calamari ($7) although not overly exciting, was executed well: crunchy yet tender with a nice flavorful batter, garnished with olives and parmesan, and served with their Pommadoro sauce. The Hungarian Stuffed Pepper ($8), a dish Deanna claims her family helped introduce to Buffalo, was seasoned well and stuffed with a trio of cheeses; it managed to remain crunchy yet smooth at the same time. It was perfectly complemented by a bottom sauce of roasted red pepper aioli, which added a subtle level of sweetness to the stuffed pepper. Roasted to perfection and flavored with goat cheese and a balsamic reduction, the Roasted Beets ($8) were delicious on their own, and even helped to blend the Chianti’s flaws by bringing out the fruit within the wine. Truly reminiscent of fall, the rich, grilled, Gorgonzola Stacked Polenta ($8), topped with a lovely roasted vegetable ragout, is a special addition to a traditional Italian menu.

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We ordered one dinner from the standard menu and sampled the Wednesday special. Although the menu is filled with many appetizing options, we chose the Cioppino ($26). A splendid twist on a traditional Cioppino, the flavorful broth and fresh seafood is served over a rich bed of creamy parmesan risotto. The favors of the seafood, tomato, and herbs blend into the risotto to create a flavor combination that is out of this world. The shrimp, mussels, cod, and scallops were properly prepared in order to keep the individuality of each protein. The dish is a perfect medley of both light and hearty flavors that paired well with the crisp, slightly acidic and lightly fruity flavors of the Principessa Gavia, Gavi 2007 ($8/32).
For only 33 dollars two can dine very well on Wednesdays at DiGiulio’s. Each guest will receive a green salad with a choice of either the DiGiulio’s staple, Pasta Pommadoro with chicken or shrimp, or a rotating traditional favorite such as the Braised Short Ribs. The entrees are served with a complementary bottle of red or white wine. The updated Wednesday entrée options will be available on their website: DiGiulioandcompany.com

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Our next course was the dinner salad that is included in the Wednesday special. A heaping pile of fresh and lightly dressed mixed greens on an attractive triangular plate was a much-needed palate cleanser for us, and was also a lovely introduction to the meal. We went on to try both entrees from the current Wednesday’s special. First up was a large platter of Braised Short Ribs, separated by creamy red smashed potatoes, and crunchy hand cut julienne fried potatoes, surrounded by rich a sauce that was filled with mushrooms, baby carrots, and pearl onions.
Technically the short ribs were braised perfectly, the texture and flavor was spot on. Being braised in beer and fresh herbs—a liquid that is later utilized in the sauce—helped achieve beef that was both moist and fork tender, while still holding its textural integrity.

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Next came the Pasta Pommadoro, with a choice of shrimp or chicken, as well as a choice of pasta. I chose the chicken and penne. Slightly sweet and rich in color, the sauce highlights the fresh flavors of tomatoes, onion, and herbs. A garnish of ricotta rounded out this relatively simple, yet perfectly composed dish. The chicken was pounded and lightly dusted to create a gentle crust. Each bite was moist and delicious.

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We finished our meal with a little sip of limoncello, a traditional Italian dessert drink, and a slice of the Cassata Cake prepared by Joanne herself. Fluffy, moist, light and layered with cream, it was a perfect way to end a meal straight from the kitchen and the hearts of the DiGiulio women.
DiGiulio & Co.
1673 Hertel Avenue
Tuesday – Thursday 5PM to 10PM
Friday and Saturday 5PM to 11PM

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