The Horton Coffee Company – founded in 1926 in New York – eventually found a home in Buffalo at 338 Ellicott Street. When the company merged up in 1988, the single-story space on Ellicott went fallow and remained that way for over 20 years. In 2012 Rocco Termini and Chef Mike Andrzejewski decided to put a cork in the degrading building and – in 2013 – Tappo was born. Today Tappo is owned by Termini and Phil Limina, who is also the head chef for the operation.
It’s been about five years since Tappo Restaurant opened its doors and they’re still going strong. On Summer evenings the giant garage doors open and people spill out into the sidewalks. Rooftop dining is in full swing with intimate tables in the moonlight or full out Birthday parties. The roof has its own bar and a great view of the Buffalo skyline. Below, the industrial-themed brick and chrome space offers diners a variety of seating arrangements from intimate booths to larger gatherings in the center of the restaurant.
One of the lures to Tappo is its affordability. Price points are reasonable and support a family’s night out. Most bottles of wine are $16 which puts a lot of merriment into your evening and the bar has a light menu for casual dining while you enjoy craft cocktails and beer offerings. The main menu is a short list of excellent recipes under the command of Owner/Chef Phil Limina. Here’s a taste…
We started off with a couple of Peroni’s ($6.00 each) and an order of Cheesy Bread ($5.00). I ordered the Vegetarian Eggplant Parmigiana ($17.00) and my dining partner ordered (slightly off menu) the Rigatoni Alfredo (with light Alfredo sauce) ($16.00) with chicken (+$7.00) and mozzarella (+$1.50) and a side of gastrique for dipping (+$2.00). Total Alfredo dish ($26.50). For dessert we ordered a house made Bread Pudding ($6.00).
Many restaurants have their own version of cheesy garlic bread and we all have our favorites. At Tappo the Cheesy Bread is pretty darn amazing and – in hindsight – could have been a meal. I think it might just be the number one ‘go-to’ appetizer at Tappo with their homemade Classic Meatballs ($7.00) a close second.
Our entrees arrived and I dug right into my Eggplant Parm. I hadn’t had this dish in awhile and I enjoyed the crispy seasoned panko-breadcrumb crust and the tender flavorful eggplant inside. It rested on marinara sauce with quenelles of brûléed mozzarella on top. Such a nice dish. It was accompanied by a side of house pasta which I tasted but couldn’t finish. I was that full.
The Rigatoni Alfredo with chicken, mozzarella and gastrique arrived and it presented well. I tasted the dish and will likely order that version of it next time I visit. What was nice (despite the ala cart pricing for adjustments to the dish) was that the restaurant ‘does’ make your entrée to order. The chicken was hot and tender and the pasta cooked on point. The dish was definitely pleasing and the bowl empty at the end.
The house-made Bread Pudding was a nice dessert. It was topped with ice cream, whipped cream and cocoa powder with a smear of caramel sauce on the plate for dredging. A nice, light way to end the meal.
Tappo is open 7 days a week and can accommodate groups up to 50 guests. You can make reservations online but for groups of 15 or more they recommend that you call the restaurant directly. They do not accept reservations for rooftop dining; it’s first-come, first-serve. Sunday is Family Meal day where you can dine ‘family style’ (Cheese Bread, Tossed Salad, Meatballs, Pasta Bolognese & Cannoli) for only $20.00 per person.
With the cooler months upon us, and the rooftop closing in the winter months, take a minute on a still warm Buffalo evening to check out Tappo.
Ambiance: Functional industrial style. Bar area gets noisy but that’s the fun of it. Sunny rooftop.
Menu: Streamlined, featuring proven winners that guests really enjoy.
Service: Well-trained, efficient and attentive. Very busy when the crowd arrives.
Lead image, Buffalo Drone Photography
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