A major piece of the Main Street puzzle is finally in place. Peter and Jonathan Eid, owners of Mezza on Elmwood Avenue, are currently unveiling their latest creation – Hearth + Press. Hearth + Press is a departure from the brother’s Elmwood creation. The restaurant has been in formulation stages for years. “It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do,” the brothers told me. “Our family is Lebanese, and when we travel, this is the typical Eastern Mediterranean café that we come across. It’s the type of atmosphere that makes us happy. We believe that we’re bringing something to Downtown Buffalo that is completely different in so many ways.”
First of all, have you seen the frontage that the restaurant boasts on Main Street? It goes on forever. The building’s presence is dramatic, and the first floor is striking. Seeing this enormous space finally occupied is just about the best thing that anyone could have asked for. Plus, this is the type of restaurant concept that will assuredly generate a huge buzz for the block. The recipe for success is built around a Wood Stone hearth oven that will allow Peter and Johnny to conjure up some of the best scratch Neopolitan-style pizzas in the land. With temperatures upwards of 1000 degrees, the oven will be able to crank out pizzas, baguettes, croissants, and breads as efficiently as the crowds demand.
The hearth takes the main stage in the vaulting room, but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. “It’s going to be more of a café experience in the morning, serving coffee, and breakfast sandwiches – that sort of thing,” said Johnny. “Then, we will transition to lunch, serving pizzas, paninis, etc. – we will take custom orders at this station [pointing], and then we will also have a deli case filled with all sorts of freshly made sandwiches so that office workers can grab them on the fly. In the evening, Hearth + Press will become a full service restaurant. Down the road we intend to slow roast our proteins in the hearth overnight (roast beef for example), and we will also be preparing our homemade meatballs using the hearth. We will always have fresh breads and pastries – my brother and I have been baking since we could walk. We are so excited about this oven – the ceramic is super thick and can hold extremely high temperatures for a very long time. The pizzas will be similar in style to the ones that we prepare at Mezza, but along with being thin crust on the bottom, there will be more of a handle. The pies will be Neopolitan style, along with a few Buffalo and Mediterranean twists.”
Depending on the time of day, Hearth + Press will adjust to accommodate the transitioning customers. Picture a bustling market place throughout the day, with orders being taken and food being doled out. Peter explained to me that they will be serving an exclusive Hawaiian kona coffee that is being blended just for them. They will be selling beans by the bag (whole or ground), and cups of regular and French Press.
At night, the views onto Main Street will be captivating, as the Metro Rail rolls past and the theatre-goers come and go. Hearth + Press will have a full bar specializing in press cocktails, where all of the ingredients will be added and handed over to the customer who will then press it to perfection. “It’s interactive, totally unique, and specific to this location,” said Peter.
“We believe that people will love this atmosphere,” added Johnny. “The pies will be made right in front of everyone. At the same time, we want people to sit down and enjoy a pastry and a glass of wine, which is what we love about European restaurants. Not everything has to be a heavy meal. Just come in and find something that makes you happy.”
Peter and Johnny have been business partners for twelve years. In that time, they have managed to take their passion for food and deliver something special to Buffalo. Now they want to fire it up again, by creating a concept that they feel is the perfect fit for downtown.
Hearth + Press will open for Curtain Up! this evening. Be sure to swing by to take a look at this fabulous new addition to the Downtown dining scene. “If you ‘like us’ on Social Media, we will give you a free slice of pizza during the event,” Johnny mentioned. “We can’t wait for people to come in and try this out – we believe that everyone will be surprised by what they find.”