Williamsville, NY. The early 20th century. A man guides his family’s horse-drawn carriage through the flurries of snow sweeping across their circular driveway before coming to a halt in front of a striking two-story home. The ride was long and chilly, but inside, homey warmth awaits. Today, teleportation discs may have replaced the horse and buggy, but travelers still traverse the same driveway in search of a warm welcome. Now the home of Parings Wine Bar, the turn-of-the-century house reflects the goal that owner Shelia Paolini shared with the Amherst Bee’s Jessica Finch: “We want it to feel like you are coming into a living room, that you are at home, not at a bar.”
As soon as guests push open the bright-red front door, they enter a space that combines the comfort of a lived-in family room with the gourmet flavors found at traditional wine bars. Lit by flat-screen TVs and a cozy fireplace, guests peruse Chef Scott Martin’s ever-changing menu, which often features mediterranean nachos, lobster mac 'n' cheese, and horseradish beef tenderloin. Resident sommelier Alphonso DiMono’s wine list, which culls vintages from global wineries from Australia to France to California, perfectly complements the chef's creations. The bar’s mixologists also shake up more than 20 martinis infused with treats such has espresso vodka, Godiva white-chocolate liqueur, and pumpkin puree. As they sip and eat, guests can also join in special event nights that include art shows, live music, and happy hours that feature 20 types of wine for just $20 per bottle.
From its charming Bryant Street storefront, Trattoria Aroma serves up authentic boot-country fare using local and organic products whenever possible. Launch a decadent dining experience with an order of peppercorn-seared pork belly, served with a cracked egg, sweet-pea pesto, and shaved parmesan ($9), or opt for the crispy fried artichoke hearts over parsley pesto ($7). Gourmet pizzas ($12+) and house-made pastas, such as the lobster ravioli with fried leeks and brandy cream ($21), offer sophisticated twists on familiar flavors, while Trattoria Aroma's meaty fare perks up frownful Florentines. Poultry loyalists exchange regal high-fives over juicy bites of chicken saltimbocca, a fragrant sage- and prosciutto-enhanced dish with asparagus, roasted potatoes, and a white-wine-lemon sauce ($22). Vela osso bucco Milanese, with saffron-parmesan risotto and gremolata ($29), offers a marrowful meal for opulent meat-lovers and makes an ideal accompaniment for any of the fermented favorites off of Trattoria's award-winning wine list.
The sound of honking horns, chattering pedestrians, and singing puppets fades away when diners duck into Wine on Third’s dimly lit dining rooms. Here, the din of Third Street is replaced with soft music and tinkling wine glasses. Diners perch along a lengthy wooden bar sipping red, white, and sparkling selections from the eatery’s comprehensive wine list, which was awarded the Award of Distinction from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Small plates of tuna sashimi, assorted cheeses, and greek dips flood tables throughout a spacious dining area flanked by vibrant local artwork where guests linger over last bites of New York–style cheesecake and final sips of sweet martinis. Branching out beyond satiating taste buds, the elegant eatery plays host to special events including art shows and live music throughout the month.
Rated #1 three years running in the Zagat National Chains Survey for best steak, Outback Steakhouse specializes in dispensing classic menu items such as seafood, steak, and pasta. The restaurant draws inspiration from the continent of Australia, alluding to its namesake outback with seared prime rib and lobster tails, grilled meats such as chicken and salmon, and juicy, marbled rib-eye steaks. A menu for kids lets youths sample morsels from the upside-down part of the world while right-side up, and creative desserts and generous cocktails round out the offerings.
The vineyards of Niagara's wineries offer guests an inside look at their wine-crafting practices, including grape selection and cultivation. The full-day tour reveals all of the necessary steps each winery takes in preparing its signature libations, with each tour culminating in a wine tasting, sure to please the palate and nurture appreciation for the sacrifices of selfless grapes throughout history. To redeem this deal, simply visit the wineries of your choice and present today's Groupon to frolic in the vinous depths of oenophilic education.
Recently featured in Buffalo Rising, The Wine Thief navigates a laser-beam-guarded landscape to offer fine wine and a menu of inventive new American fare to Buffalo residents. The wine list boasts various vinos by the bottle or glass, eschewing fermented juice boxes in favor of more reliable receptacles. Worldly whites, such as the 1734 Vouvray ’06 (Loire, France), compete for imbibers’ taste buds against alternative reds, known for their early 1990s grungewear and soft-loud musical dynamics. The Wine Thief is also home to a Cuvee wine storage system, which keeps open wines fresh for up to two weeks, allowing a total of 36 by-the-glass wines to be ready at any one time.