Author: Phantom Diner

Phantom Diner

A Buffalo-based undercover restaurant reviewer. In conjunction with Buffalo Rising, this weekly series will present objective, honest reviews of WNY restaurants. What makes a restaurant great? Great cuisine, great service, and consistent delivery.

The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. 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. Tappo. It’s been about five years…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. According to the people who monitor Pizza sales, NAPO [National Association of Pizza Operators], the U.S. consumes over $38 billion worth of pizza each year. That’s about 100 acres worth of pizza each day and about 350 slices every second. Along with that we consume over 250 million pounds of pepperoni each year! We eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner and that kind of demand is easily met. There are an estimated 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and 9,000 of them in New York. As if eating pizza didn’t satisfy our pizza…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. What Gumbo is to Southern cuisine, Pho is to Vietnamese. Pronounced (Fuh) in Vietnamese, I tried to discover the origins of the word and to find out what it means. The best I could come up with was ‘noodle’ and the sense that its origins are not concrete. So, I wondered about the meaning of the restaurant name when I walked inside. Sitting on the corner of Niagara Street and Rhode Island is a largely nondescript, slightly stodgy building with an outdoor patio. The sign – Pho Lantern Restaurant – touted Vietnamese, Thai…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. Veni, Vidi, Degustavi! I came, I saw, I ate! And boy, did I. No Ugly Swan here… Arriving at Swan Street Diner at that ‘tween’ hour I couldn’t decide if I wanted breakfast or lunch; so, I opted for both. Sitting in the modernized Airstream-style diner I looked over the menu and ordered the “House Hash” ($12) for my breakfast item. It comes with 2 eggs, house corned beef hash and an order of toast – nice and simple. For my lunch item I ordered a “Chicago Dog” ($6) which had a kosher…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. For me, the attraction to Frankie Primo’s +39 is its corner location and proximity to Buffalo’s downtown Theatre District. Only a few blocks from Shea’s, Road Less Traveled, Alleyway and Irish Classical theatre it’s a great spot to have a nice dinner before your favorite show. And it’s only a few steps from some of Buffalo’s night spots as well. From the patio you can enjoy al fresco dining and ‘people-watching’ at the busy location. If you have family living in Europe, then you probably know that +39 is the international dialing code…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. On a recent trip to Rome I sampled a pasta dish made “all’ arrabbiata”. The term “arrabbiata” means “angry”. When I tasted the dish, I understood the meaning because it had a little kick to it. The flavors for an “arrabbiata” sauce come from garlic, tomatoes, and dried red chili peppers cooked in olive oil. Don’t worry; It’s not ranked on the Scoville scale. There’s just enough spiciness to tease your tongue while you chow down on what amounts to be an amazingly – light – meal. Nevertheless, missing this dish, I went…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. While the ‘origins’ of ice cream date back to the Chinese around 4,000 B.C., the first time a ‘recipe’ for Ice Cream appeared in print was in 1718. In her cookbook “Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts” the Englishwoman published the first recipe for modern day ice cream. The idea of the Ice Cream ‘cone’ was invented almost by accident when an Ice Cream vendor at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair ran out of dishes to serve his ice cream and worked with another nearby vendor to bend the waffle shells he was selling…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. Sitting in a sunny window across the street I marveled at the beautiful church in front of me. I’d passed this spot hundreds of times but never took the time to “look up” and admire the architecture of the St. Louis R.C. Church of Buffalo. Built in 1885 it was constructed with Medina Sandstone which can be seen in other constructions around Buffalo such as the Connecticut Street Armory, Buffalo Psychiatric Center, Trinity Episcopal Church and in some of the sidewalks on Symphony Circle. The stone was mined in Medina and transported along…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. John Colter was an expert hunter and marksman with the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition from 1803 – 1806. In 1807, now a freelance hunter and trapper, Colter found himself in what is now Yellowstone National Park. He is credited with that discovery although most people at the time thought the man had suffered from the hot sun when he described the land as a ‘stinking place that spouted steam and boiling water’. In May of 1810 Colter canoed over 3,000 miles from the headwaters of the Missouri River to St. Louis to…

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The Phantom Diner series is sponsored by Urban Valet Cleaners. In Italian we say Più Di. In German it’s Mehr Als. And in Catalan Spanish; it’s Més Que! They all mean “More Than”. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is over and Futbol fans were watching from the edge of their seats.  Much to Spain’s disappointment, they crashed out in the round of 16 to the surprising host team Russia, who moved on to the quarter finals joined by England, Sweden, Brazil, Belgium, Croatia, Uruguay, and France. But Spain has not given up and despite this year’s outcome they’ll be back with ferocity, hoping…

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