JT’s Urban Italian opened over the weekend, with a big bang. Not only was the place wall-to-wall, full of people on Friday night, this section of Elmwood Avenue was alive with activity all weekend long. What was formerly a fairly dead corner has suddenly become a hot spot. The dual patio action is a welcome sight for sore eyes – JT’s’ customers were almost spilling out onto the sidewalk. It was the place to be, and the place to be seen.
The interior of JT’s is wide open, with plenty of seating arrangements. There’s a large bar on the first floor and a smaller bar on the second floor. The indoor-outdoor atmosphere is great for people watching – there was so much activity on the street all weekend long.
Starting Monday, June 26, JT’s will start serving lunch Monday through Saturday, and then after the Fourth of July, the place will be adding brunch to its repertoire. These long extended hours will be a huge win for Elmwood, because that means that there will be lots of people walking about seven days a week, all day long and into the night. That’s really important, especially for a restaurant of this size. Hopefully that walking traffic equates to nearby businesses reaping the benefits.
JT’s is operated by an experienced team of restaurateurs. That means that they’re running a tight ship, as they will be hands-on operators. It’s easy to see that the bar and wait staff is very professional. Everything appeared to be running smoothly, which is great because there were a lot of people to accommodate right off the bat.
Taking a look at the menu, a few items immediately stood out… like the milkshakes. For example, the coffee with Van Gogh espresso vodka, or the chocolate with solerno blood orange. Now that’s something different on a hot summer’s day. The entire list of appetizers looked mighty inviting as well, such as the five onion fondue, the wood oven wings, and the vegetable crudité. There was also a tantalizing array of salads, ranging from the grilled salmon to the John’s Chopped (loaded with baby shrimp, soppressata, chickpeas, gorgonzola, olives, cucumbers, tomato and white balsamic).
There were plenty of local beers to choose from, but I was especially happy to see Double Cross vodka and Tommyrotter gin featured on the cocktail menu. It’s so refreshing to be able to walk into a local establishment and find Buffalo-made/owned-and-operated spirits available. Not only are they made locally, they taste great and the money stays right here in Buffalo. If you’re still ordering the big name spirit brands, the next time you head out, ask the bartender what he or she is serving that is distilled in Buffalo. You might be surprised to find that your new favorite spirit is made right around the corner from where you live.
Early on in the evening, I talked to a couple of business types at the bar, and the conversation evolved into “building on Elmwood”. Standing in JT’s, and knowing what this establishment was already doing for the Elmwood Village, we couldn’t help but discuss the Chason-Affinity mixed-use condo-retail-restaurant project proposed for the corner of Elmwood and Forest. Everyone was in agreement that if the JT’s new build could be such a hit, can you imagine what that other project would do for the street? Unfortunately that project is tabled, but at least it’s still “on the table”. It’s great to see that Elmwood is growing up, thanks to these types of major investments. Let’s hope that the momentum continues.