Author: Peter River Abel
While driving on Harlem Road across from Cheektowaga Town Park a month or so ago I noticed a fairly well known name within the general Buffalo dining/bar community featured on a restaurant sign.
With some help from Google, my hunch proved correct. Doino’s Pizzeria, Bar and Grille was opened by Eileen Doino in late 2016 in the space formerly called Peter K’s.
If you’re interested in some background info about Eileen and her food and beverage success, then continue reading this paragraph. If you’re jonesing to read about the food, then skip to the next paragraph.
I share this back story as this woman has restaurant and bar expertise up the proverbial wazoo. She knows her way around the kitchen and can make some kick ass cocktails too. Back in the day, Eileen was a co-owner of the ever popular The Pentacle in West Seneca that closed a number of years ago. Since then Eileen was CEO of the Bartenders Professional Training Institute, a successful business venture licensed by the NY State Education Department with training facilities across upstate NY. Now, with this new venture, she has teamed up again with Ron Doino, also a former co-owner of The Pentacle, as a business partner to add additional hospitality expertise. So when you walk into this joint, in lots of ways, to enthusiastically use old school terminology, you’ll find a great neighborhood beer joint where you can kick back and enjoy the food, drinks, service and friendliness.
I purposely waited to head here for dinner on a Friday as I heard distinct rumors of a truly good fish fry.
I purposely waited to head here for dinner on a Friday as I heard distinct rumors of a truly good fish fry. Before I get to that, I did split a single order of char BBQ chicken wings served medium with a friend who came along with me. As a bit of a chicken wing aficionado, I tell you it’s not an easy feat to find wings successfully grilled with BBQ sauce combined with any degree of hot sauce, as easy as that might sound. Most places simply tell you they’ll give you the hot sauce on the side as their way of getting out of this challenge. Lo and behold, when they arrived, not only were they the big size wings but the kitchen rocked it – they did a great job of combining the sweetness of the BBQ sauce with a tasty bit of heat atop the grilled wings. We could have done with a slight bit less of sauce on the wings because somehow it always ends up in our hair. That being said, the sauce was delicious. Kudos to the kitchen for these wings! BTW, I recall being told one of lead kitchen staff cooked at Sienna and another at another well know area restaurant that I’m sorry to say I don’t recall.
Now, let’s get to the fish fry which is only available on Fridays. To me a great fish fry not only includes a healthy sized fillet of battered haddock, and, yes, I was told that haddock was served here and not the cheaper and less tasty white fish that some places use, but also an abundance of home-made sides. All fish dinners here, whether battered or breaded, are served with homemade American potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, rye bread and butter and your choice of either warm German potato salad or french fries. So when my dinner arrived, to put it succinctly: JACKPOT! It met all of my requirements. The big ol‘ piece of fish was fried with a crispy and appetizing coating, the meaty haddock (if that makes any sense!?!?) was tasty and perfectly cooked, and the four sides filled the plate guaranteeing food Nirvana. Everything on the plate ranged from good to very good with the coleslaw on the low end. As much as I really enjoyed the fish, oddly my favorites, in no particular order, were the macaroni salad, the German potato salad and, wait for it ….. wait for it ….. the homemade tartar sauce! Ok, the tartar sauce was my favorite but don’t tell the others. The German potato salad was a bit of a surprise in that I enjoyed it as much as I did. It was on the sweet side with only a little taste of the zing that the vinegar adds. And, with hindsight, add more bacon. Just cuz it’s bacon.
As for the service, overall, our server was attentive, very thorough and friendly. Sorry to say I don’t recall her name to give her a deserved shout out. Extra napkins were provided for the wings and, after asking if we would like some more water, she returned with a full pitcher for us. She knew details about the daily specials when asked, which isn’t always the case at some places. Note that in addition to the traditional bar food on the menu, these specials do allow the kitchen to show off some. Nearby customers a table away seemed to be enjoying the oyster special as they shared them. Ron made a point of stopping by a few times to chat a bit and to touch base asking if we were enjoying our food. This is always a welcome gesture and another sign of a well run restaurant.
As for the space itself, well, as I alluded to, it has the feeling of a well used, comfy corner neighborhood bar.
As for the space itself, well, as I alluded to, it has the feeling of a well used, comfy corner neighborhood bar. When we walked in through the front door, the good size barroom had a fairly full crowd seated on barstools with a few tables and chairs scattered about. I noticed a big pizza – this place bills itself as a pizzeria after all, sitting atop the bar for customers to grab a slice. A nice touch. The dining room, set around back a bit, had about nine tables, with the same aged knotty pine wooden walls as the bar room. More of the typical bar paraphernalia continued into this room as well.
While chatting with Eileen she mentioned that the kitchen has been updated and remodeled with the addition of pizza ovens, and a pizza counter was incorporated for to go orders. Future plans are to update the dining room and the barroom somewhat, while maintaining their warmth along with adding a raised patio, level with the barroom along the front of the building. Going back to the pizza counter, it connects the dining room to the side entrance, thus providing direct access to pick up orders, and easy access to the dining room. I can see myself ordering pizza, wings and subs from here, as I’m not a fan of having to walk into a place and pick up orders from the bar or from a server.
We each decided to get a slice of pizza to go, as we were too stuffed to eat it there. So even when it was enjoyed a bit later that night, it stood up well and was tasty. I particularly liked the sauce, the small cup pepperoni, and the crust, as did my friend, but she would have preferred a bit less sauce. We both liked the grated cheese sprinkled across the top of the pizza. An old school touch.
Bottom lining this – the broad menu here is full of typical bar food that is solidly prepared with an eye for detail, quality and taste. Limited daily specials do add some variety to mix it up a bit, and hopefully more will come soon as the business grows.
Thinking aloud, if the waitress had suggested the fried dough special for dessert, we might have ordered it no matter how full we were, to enjoy a traditional WNY favorite.
Thinking aloud, if the waitress had suggested the fried dough special for dessert, we might have ordered it no matter how full we were, to enjoy a traditional WNY favorite. The service is keen and friendly under the watchful eyes of the owners. The space, while a bit lovingly worn, will gradually be updated in the future. Knowing the history of the owners, it will be nicely done keeping all the good points of the place intact. As for the bar and the varieties of beers offered, and cocktails available, I did not sample them this time, but my guess knowing Eileen and Ron it’s well stocked. Will I return? As one of the best compliments I can say, yes, for sure.
Doino’s Pizzeria Bar & Grille | 2709 Harlem Road @ Central Blvd directly across from the Cheektowaga Town Park entrance | Cheektowaga, NY 14225 | 716-893-9229 | Website