Welcome to Dine on It

10622823_10204786293045211_5268142854249993720_nEvery time I try a new restaurant, cook something new, or discover something when I travel, I blast out a few photos on my phone, maybe make a quick Facebook post, and think “I really need to write some of this stuff down before I forget it.”

And then I forget.

The appreciation of eating, cooking, and travel has become my sport, my hobby, and my entertainment. It is how I was brought up – my parents were never wealthy but they always found a way to travel. Our family continues to spend a tremendous amount  of time around food and cooking. It is a shared passion between my wife Summer and I, and its how we are raising our kids. When you come to our home, you are fed. When we travel, we become instant food tourists – texting our food friends for tips, digging through eater.com and yes- those other sites – to find the hidden dining gems. Its how we roll.

I used to write all the time. I blogged before blogging was called blogging, and I miss it. So that is what this is all about. Just my chance to unwind and talk about eating, cooking, and travel. I’ll write up the occasional restaurant experience from my perspective, but it will be mostly random dumps of word salad from my brain as I get a chance to tell a story.

Over the past few years I’ve had some great opportunities to get to know, cook with, and learn from some tremendous local chefs and food people in the area. Occasionally I get out of town and get to dig into some of the cooler eats out there. I look forward to sharing some of those experiences for those that appreciate that sort of thing.

So this will be more of an introspection of experiences as I see them. Our friends at Buffalo Eats have the review program more than comprehensively covered in this town, and they tend to have their fingers on the pulse of whatever is going on right now. I’d rely on them for any sort of legitimate information on local dining.

With that said, I rarely filter myself, will try to be honest, and will be spending the next several months seeking out breakfast specials and exploring the  quality virtues of local souvlaki, along with the occasional taste of something “fancier,” and maybe something off of my grill or oven should I find it worthy of discussion.

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read what comes out of this. I appreciate it, and I hope it turns into something fun and entertaining.


Godspeed La Castellana

Photo stolen from Urbanspoon - but who cares? the restaurant is shut down.

Photo stolen from Urbanspoon – but who cares? the restaurant is shut down.

I was informed today that La Castelana on Transit Road is closed(ing) – if it hasn’t already.

Growing up, this was “the other parmed pasta joint” in town and one of my favorites.  Home to many cheap first dates for us Cheektowaga folks, it was cash only, and had the perpetually 58 year old blond hostess that treated everyone like crap and stared you down if you asked for more bread (warm Costanzo sub rolls and those frozen packets of butter. You know this program).

This was my red sauce joint growing up. Stuffed Shells, Lasagna, Choice of pasta (ziti was an extra 50 cents) and all the standard fare. You could dabble in the smother with cheese game and broiler Parm (see photo) anything you wanted for an extra couple bucks, get meatballs, and/or sausage, and/or mushrooms on top of anything, and the portions were big enough to split and take some home. Remember the eppie roll? Baby Jesus wrapped in dough. With a side of marinara.

Oh Veal/Chicken Marsala with canned mushrooms. How I will miss you and your side choice of pasta.

Oh Veal/Chicken Marsala with canned mushrooms. How I will miss you and your side choice of pasta.

The sauce was that super sweet tomato paste style, and the only salad dressings were Regular Italian (in a cruet) and creamy Italian. Plastic plaid tablecloths, and tables that needed a matchbook to stay level with those shitty metal/vinyl chairs and/or white plastic outdoor patio chairs.

Box wine. Pre-made desserts. Pasta cooked until it was flaccid and dead. Veal Marsala with canned mushrooms. All of the classics. This joint was reminiscent of every Italian Food experience that I (and most western NY’ers) ever had or wanted to have up until the last decade or so when I really got into cooking. I really loved this place without pretense.

Godspeed grumpy Italian lady at the hostess station that treated me like crap when I only had a debit card and no cash on me and embarrassed me in front of my dates back in the day. Your Manicotti (pronounced MAN IH COT EEE) with ricotta cheese (pronounced RICK COT AH) will forever live in my heart, and on my shirt.

Also, Welcome to Dine On It.