I recently had a chance to sit down with an impressive and tenacious culinary entrepreneur, Bryan Mecozzi of Black Iron Bystro. Many chefs possess a driven work ethic, but there are few who be able to withstand the blood, sweat and tears that this chef/owner underwent upon opening his restaurant.
Bryan is a self-taught cook who has spent the better part of a decade building his own place in his free time. While cooking for other restaurants, most recently, Vera Pizzeria, he was diligently remodeling a family building into Black Iron Bystro in Blasdell, NY at the same time. “Why Blasdell?” I asked. Bryan informed me that his grandfather owned the building and it was a place to start. He explained that it took seven years to build because he did it primarily himself or with the help of family. He could not find anyone to invest or partner with him because of the location. Investing in a Blasdell restaurant was not on the top priority list of venture capitalists. Thankfully, the location (just outside the city limits) hasn’t stopped folks from coming! Black Iron Bystro gets visitors from all over the area and surrounding suburbs, which deems it a true destination restaurant.
Bryan gutted a building that had been several different businesses over the years. He uncovered a rustic, raw space that he slowly transformed into an eclectic, art filled restaurant with a welcoming bar, an open kitchen, and plenty of seating to enjoy his fun menu. The wall of chalkboards features the daily specials, while the wine list hangs over the bar. The layout and design of the space creates a casual setting for guests to see the chefs at work. The sun that beams through the large side windows adds enough light to warm the space but keeps it dim and inviting at the same time. Local art lines the walls, while the iron sculpture out front greets guests with a little homage to the industry of the area.
Black Iron Bystro has a simple, scaled back menu. Bryan indicated that he prefers to change it often in order to branch out and try new things. The moderately priced menu consists of his versions of some trendy staples like truffle fries, arancini, and a (meatball) burger. Additionally, there are some creative combinations such as scallops & black eyed peas, a coulotte steak with cranberry compote, and a ciabatta sandwich with beets, pickled caraway carrots & goat cheese. The menu boasts partnerships with some terrific local sources, such as Arden Farm and Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. I look forward to arriving at dinnertime on my next visit, to taste some of the diverse offerings that continually make the rounds.
Chef Mecozzi and Black Iron Bystro should most definitely be on the radar of any Buffalo epicure. Bryan, along with sous chef Steven Ceccarelli, participated and won the Nickel City Chef competition just yesterday, defeating the reigning champ. The competition runs much like the popular TV show Iron Chef and features a secret ingredient that the chefs must include in the three dishes they prepare. Yesterday’s ingredient was whole & chocolate milk from Hoover’s Dairy Store in Sanborn, NY. Bryan and Steven’s three plates were the winners at the end of the day. Their first dish was Scallop Sambuca with shiitake mushrooms, beet-pickled fennel and truffle milk foam. Second, they showcased Spring Pea Ricotta Ravioli with prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin & bee pollen lemon béchamel. Their final dish was a White Russian Milkshake with vanilla bean ice cream, Zamir vodka, coffee liquor, whipped cream & espresso caviar.
Keeping up with Chef Mecozzi is sure to be a fun ride. Lots more at BIB beyond the dinner menu… Check out some upcoming events…
Black Iron Bystro is open for dinner Tuesday-Thursday 4pm-10pm, Friday-Saturday 4pm-11pm
3648 South Park Ave | Blasdell, NY 14219 | 716.240.9830