Francesca's Ristorante Italiano's eggplant fra diablo won Taste of Buffalo's 2012 Pat Sardina Memorial award for Best Comfort Food, and the lemon strawberry sorbet won Taste of Buffalo's award for 2013 Independent Health Foundation's Healthy Options, but those aren't the only items on the eatery's menu that could have qualified. Other dishes with sumptuous, rich flavors include the eatery's rustic Italian pizzas, which chefs paint with a signature red-wine sauce or garlic-cream-cheese spread, as well as the osso buco with tender, slow-cooked beef shank and oyster mushrooms packed into ravioli. While navigating forks through tubes of housemade manicotti stuffed with ricotta cheese, patrons can enjoy the melodies of occasional live music or launch paper airplanes off the outdoor patio. Dark wood accentuates the fully stocked bar, replete with wine, beer, and cocktail makings.
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Known as the “Stuffed Hot Pepper King,” Nicky G's Sports Bar and Restaurant churns out pizzas, calzones, and subs crowned with stuffed peppers, but they also concoct milder choices, such as 8-ounce Black Angus cheeseburgers, steak-and-cheese subs, and even freshly made crab cakes. From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., the wait staff shuffles food to tables inside the restaurant and bar area or to patrons on the patio. On Sunday nights, guests can enjoy entertainment with their meal, as wannabe singers tray their hand at karaoke and wannabe football players tackle barstools.
Occuping the building at Lackawanna's central intersection Nelson's ridge perfectly captures the neighborhood’s charm. The eatery takes its name from nearby Our Lady of Victory Basilica's well-loved leader, Father Nelson Baker, and furthers the connection with menu names derived from religious icons. Chefs churn out classic diner fare such as burgers, hot sandwiches, and fried chicken for lunch and dinner, but the biggest crowd pleasers are their served-all-day hotcakes, stuffed with bananas and chocolate chips, blueberries, or diced apples and bacon. In true diner fashion, Nelson’s feeds hungry diners at a long counter dotted with bar stools, and floor-to-ceiling windows offer gorgeous views of its namesake basilica.
The cooking school's team of cooking instructors and chefs work diligently to instill a love of cooking in students of all ages. Inside the Kids’ Kitchen, children ages 3 to 6, assisted by their parents and helped along by friendly instructors, prepare healthy, kid-friendly fare. As they work through recipes, the Future Chefs class participants also learn kitchen essentials such as measuring skills, pot and pan protocol, and how to operate small appliances. During adult classes, adult students roll up their sleeves and dive into multipart recipes, from a Provençal-style zucchini and greens torte to sweet-potato casserole. Adult students can choose from hands-on and demonstration-style classes, and the cooking school's chefs and instructors keep household menus fresh by leading new classes every three months. In addition to taking traditional cooking classes, grown-up students can also improve their eating habits with healthy lifestyle classes. Taught by registered dietitians, the classes cover food's impact on current health issues, and prepare students to make the good dietary decisions that will stay with them for the rest of their long, wellness-filled lives.
Gino & Joe's supplies quick workday lunches and leisurely family dinners alike with barbecue chicken pizzas, hot subs, and Italian food. In the kitchen, pizza specialists hurl discs of dough into the air before topping them with mouthwatering tomatoes or sausage, while cooks nearby assemble subs with thin-sliced capicola or bundle together veggie wraps. Pasta sauces are made fresh each day from imported tomatoes before they coat trays of savory meatballs or dinners of cheesy baked ziti.