For years, Dave Cosentino, owner of Trattoria Aroma on Bryant Street, has been contemplating expanding his patio. But with a short patio season, and plenty of interior restaurant seating, he figured that he would eventually get around to it. Of course, even with the best intentions, nothing much seemed to pan out, until lockdown struck.
With social distancing and other rules and regulations in place, meant to spread diners out, Cosentino knew that he had to take full advantage of any additional patio seating that he could muster. In advance of NY State’s Phase 3 guidelines, he began to formulate plans to turn the exterior of his corner building into a diner’s haven. With that in mind, he went out and purchased a set of old rustic barrels, and is using them to create some Italian countryside-style atmosphere, while extending the restaurant’s patio outward around the corner.
Moments ago, I found Cosentino laying out the patio, preparing for its grand opening later today at 4:30pm. “I feel like the old Dave again,” he told me. “No one would have wanted the pandemic, but the time down gave me a chance to fix up the restaurant. We fixed damaged floors in the kitchen, reupholstered the booth seating, painted what needed to be painted inside and out – we even reworked the menu and rethought the presentation. Honestly, it’s like night and day – I feel reenergized and excited about the business. When you’re operating around the clock, it’s hard to hit reset. This was obviously a rare occurrence. I didn’t want to focus on the negatives. I took full advantage of the restaurant being closed.”
When the interior seating does reopen, diners will find some significant changes. The bar area seating area will no longer be at tall transient bistro tables. Instead there will be lower, more relaxing dining tables. The bar room will have a “taverna” menu, with smaller bites, and expedited items. The dining room will be the “ristorante,” with traditional seating and full menu. “These are changes that I wanted to do for a long time, but never had the chance,” said Cosentino. “I think customers are really going to like this.”
I asked Cosentino what his biggest takeaway was during the lockdown, and he answered, “Spending time with my wife and kids. Every day I reminded myself to take time to be with the family, because so often work gets in the way. When I wasn’t fixing up the restaurant, I was hanging out with the ones that I love, and who have supported me all these years.”
Cosentino said that he took advantage of the “Reopen Buffalo” application process to expand his patio seating; something that he attributes as quick thinking by the City to help get restaurants back on solid ground. After selling off the rest of his restaurant and café assets in previous years, he’s excited to solely concentrate his efforts on this Elmwood Village restaurant location.
Once open, patio customers will find that an outdoor hostess stand has been added to the mix, as well as other conveniences. Both patios will have distinct and direct access to bathrooms as well – all other interior amenities are still closed until Phase 3 gets underway, upon which time there will be limited seating capacity. Hours will be 4:30 pm – 10 pm, Wednesday through Sunday.
Trattoria Aroma | 307 Bryant Street | Buffalo, NY | 716-881-7592