Vera Pizzeria is Magnificent.

    Over the summer, Nicole and I went with my family to San Francisco to visit my sister.  My favorite place that we visited while vacationing there was called The Alembic Bar.  What made this place special was that they made top notch old school cocktails, and they did them correctly.  You didn’t have some “Joe Schmoe” bartender with average skills behind the bar, you had a true professional.  One of my favorite drinks is a Sazerac, a drink that up until now was impossible to get here in the city of Buffalo.  I say “up until now” because that has finally changed.  “Vera Pizzeria” has brought old school cocktails and impressive pizza to the Elmwood Avenue area.
    We arrived to the restaurant at about 7:30.  It was a full house, but nothing so uncomfortable that we couldn’t wait.  We were given a wait time of about 20 minutes.  That was no problem for me because I was focused on getting to that bar.  The cocktail list was impressive offering a wide variety of drinks and a variety of different whiskey.  I didn’t see the Sazerac and was starting to get bummed out, but we decided to ask just for the hell of it.  The bartender (who all wear vests and sport mustaches) confidently said he made them and was almost excited to do so.  He had all of the essential ingredients including the Sazerac Rye Whiskey and the Peychaud’s Bitters.  He made a generous sized cocktail (almost doubled the size of the Sazerac I had in San Francisco) with one big ice cube in the glass.  It was perfection, and all while giving  me the history of the drink.  I couldn’t have been more happy.

Earning my trust before making the Sazerac with a few key ingredients.  P.s. I tipped more than one dollar, contrary to what that stray bill on the bar makes it seem like.
Splendid.

   We were seated a bit earlier than the estimated time and pleasantly, we had great seat by the window.  While we waited, instead of the standard bread basket being placed on our table, we were happily surprised with a bowl of Greek olives.  

The Sazerac makes another appearance.  Clearly I’m obsessed.

The selection of pizza was fantastic.  With all of the pizza competition in the area, you really have to be one step ahead and offer something truly special.  Vera Pizzeria did just that.  It was difficult to choose, so Nicole, our friend Kristina, and I each ordered a different pizza so that we could try them all.  Nicole ordered the Porchetta Pizza which was red wine braised pork shoulder, oil cured olives, fresh herbs, and Fontina cheese.  This pizza was superb.  The pork was cooked perfectly, so incredibly tender and juicy.  I was jealous of her dish.

Porchetta

Kristina ordered the House Made Sausage Pizza which was a San Marzano Tomato Sauce with house made Italian sausage, Fennel, and shaved Parmesan.  It was fresh, very tasty, and slowly grew increasingly spicy with every bite.

House Made Sausage

I ordered the Fig Jam and Prosciutto pizza which consisted of Bosc Pears, Arugula, Truffle Oil, Fig Jam and Prosciutto.  It was the perfect blend of flavors ending with the sweet, but not overly so, flavors of the Fig Jam.  It was different and exciting.

Fig Jam and Prosciutto

This was exactly was Buffalo was missing and now we have it.  Top notch pizza, classic cocktails made by professionals, and a great atmosphere – “Vera Pizzeria”  is a class act.  Bravo.

Vera Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Cole’s Restaurant

    Buffalo has really started to gain a reputation for having great beer.  It is becoming common to see more and more restaurants carrying excellent beer, continuously changing kegs as they are kicked, and exchanging them for other excellent beers.  Its something that I love about this city.  This weekend Nicole and I went to Cole’s for dinner.  This wasn’t the first time we have eaten there, but I hadn’t done a review on it yet for my blog.  So Saturday we decided to head down for some dinner.  One thing Cole’s has been consistent with is carrying amazing beer.  The owner of Cole’s also owns the Blue Monk and keeps the beer selection different at both places.  While the Blue Monk is mostly Belgian Beers (which are not my thing), Cole’s carry’s more of a variety, and for me, a decent selection of different IPA.

Even more great choices in bottles.

Lost Coast Indica IPA from California for me and the North Coast Bro Thelonious for Nicole.

    We arrived at around 6:30 pm on a Saturday night.  It was busy but we still didn’t have to wait for a table or anything.  The dining room is split in half, one side has an open front that goes out onto the Elmwood strip, while the other side is super dark and pub-like.  The hostess tried sitting us in the dark section but we had to insist on sitting on the other side or else I wouldn’t have been able to take any pictures.  It was not a problem at all, and in minutes we were sitting in the other section.  They had done some remodeling since the last time we had eaten there.  One thing we noticed were the bizarre lights along the wall of creepy monkeys reading books (or maybe they were supposed to be menus?).

A little disturbing…

     For an appetizer we had ordered chicken, jalapeno, and cream cheese Wonton in some sort of sweet chili sauce. The concept of this dish was pretty awesome, but it fell short on substance and in the end, you were left with a fried shell that was overcooked and too crispy, with little filling.

For dinner I had ordered a Black and Blue burger.  I’m not sure why I ordered this.  I was in the mood for a burger, but every time I actually eat a burger, I don’t enjoy it much.  Don’t get me wrong, this burger was good.  The burger itself was super thick, almost to the point where I couldn’t fit it in my mouth (insert “Thats what she said” joke).  It was cooked to the temperature that I had requested and the fries were perfect also.

Nicole was in the mood for a Reuben and that is what she ordered.  Her Reuben looked pretty awesome and I have to admit, I was jealous.  I should have ordered that also.  You can’t beat a good Reuben.  She was happy with her selection.

 
   Another decent visit to Cole’s with some good quick food and beer.  If you are new to the area and are reading this, I suggest a visit.  For new students that have just moved to the area going to Buffalo State, its right down the street from school on Elmwood.  Here are a few other pictures of the interior.

Salute!

Coles on Urbanspoon



Holiday Weekend!

   Oh man I can’t wait to kick back this weekend.  Things have been super busy around here.  The bathroom is over 75% done and the kitchen is like 90% done.  Hopefully when this is over we can take a few weeks to breathe a bit. I have spent much of the week organizing and setting up the studio for the Christmas rush, and if all goes well, I will be in Rochester, NY twice before Christmas for some shows we were asked to do.  We have more products to offer than last year so it will be exciting to bring them to sell.  I will have dates and locations for these events, once they are totally booked.
    This weekend we are headed to Star Lake where my family has a cottage on the water.  This is my first time being able to get up there this year so it should be nice even though the weather isn’t supposed to be all that great.  It will be great just to take a break from all this stuff going on in the house.  This is what our bathroom looks like:

Some Security Improvements

    With some recent encounters with crime in the neighborhood, Nicole and I found it necessary to re-evaluate some of our home improvement priorities and to make sure that our home is secure.  Our neighbors had their home broken into while they were home and that sort of freaked us out.  We realized how easy it would have been for it to have been our house also and needed to change that.  We had a number of windows that didn’t lock and some other security risks to handle.  The first thing I wanted to do was to light up the property.  We have been involved with our block club and some of the points that I had stressed involved light.  Some of the areas on our street are just too dark.  We installed a super bright motion sensor light on the house in the dark alley that leads to our backyard.

 
  The windows in our kitchen were just awful.  The locks didn’t work, the glass was cracked in spots, and any idiot could have broken into the kitchen.  We decided to call Pace Window and Door, the same company  we had gotten our front door from.  We were so impressed with how everything went with our front door that we wanted the same experience for our kitchen window install.  Sure we could have low quality windows from Window World, but we wanted to do it right the first time.  If you are thinking of getting windows or doors, check out their website to find out about their top notch windows and installation.

Pace Window and Door
81 Benbro Dr.
Suite 100
Cheektowaga, NY 14225
(716) 681-5858 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting (716) 681-5858 Office   
(716) 683-5290 Fax

New T-shirt!

    The Midnight Society T-shirt for fans of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” is up.  I was going to wait a few days before making it, but once I get something designed, I have to make it immediately.  I can’t wait.  I was initially going to do it on a baby onesie first but decided against it for now.  Its been a while since I’ve posted a new shirt design, so I wanted to get one up for the adults first.  I have also decided to offer this shirt in both guy’s and girl’s sizes.

Ladies style shirt.  Size chart is on our website and in our eBay/Etsy Stores

 
I will have this in a onesie sometime in the next week or two.  Stay tuned, we have some more great shirts coming out!

A Thanks to All

   If you have been reading my blog regularly then you would know that about a week ago we had adopted a dog and in 3 days, had to bring her back.  I just wanted to thank everyone that helped post her on their Facebook pages to get the word out.  This week she was finally adopted.  This is not an experience I will  forget, it had really done a number on me mentally.  The Buffalo SPCA had posted on their Facebook page that she had found a great home, and I couldn’t be happier because she deserves it.  Thanks again readers, friends, and family!

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

  
    Hello, Hello! I have a new design coming out this week.   Nicole requested an “Are You Afraid of The Dark” themed t-shirt.  After hearing feedback from others also, there were plenty that agreed.  Although I had never watched the show, I gathered some feedback from Nicole and we came up with a pretty cool shirt!  Take a look below at the prototype:

I plan on also releasing this on a baby onesie! Stay tuned!

A Great Dog for Anyone That Wants One.

    This weekend had its highs and lows.  I haven’t been on in a while because things have been so busy.  For a while Nicole and I had wanted to adopt a dog.  We would check the SPCA website every day to look and see the dogs, waiting to see that one face that would make us immediately come to it’s rescue.  We had found her.  She was part Boerboel and part Pit.  She just had babies and was a mother ready to be adopted.

Wilma

   Nicole and I went and picked up Wilma.  We brought my Jack Russel Ric with us so that they could meet.  The two seemed to get along nicely at the shelter, so we paid our $130.00 and brought her home.  Wilma was very appreciative of her new home and loved the both of us.  She loved to go for walks and eat treats.  She also loved to cuddle.  The thing that wasn’t working was that she loved to play with Ric.  With Ric being 20 pounds and Wilma at 60, the playing wasn’t very successful.  Every session would involve Ric being trampled on accident.  She never meant to hurt him but she would almost every time.  After 2 days of trying to figure this out, we had to make a very difficult decision.  Do we keep Wilma here and risk Ric getting hurt?  Does Wilma live here only to constantly hear us telling her not to play because we have insufficient means for her to be happy?  Or do we do the right thing and bring her back so that she has a chance to be an only dog for someone looking for a best friend.  This dog was fantastic and we couldn’t keep her.  Monday morning the decision was made to bring her back.  I had her two days and my heart was broken.  I put the leash back on her and brought her to the car.  She sat in the back seat laying down with her head resting on the seat cushion, almost as if she knew where she was going.  I was trying not to tear up but I was failing miserably.  What was only a few mile drive to the spca, seemed like forever.  I pulled into the parking lot, trying to get myself together.  I looked like my mom after a really sad, intense, episode of Guiding Light.  Wilma willingly left the back seat and walked with me to the entrance.  Once the door was open, she cowered and tried to pull in the opposite direction.  This was brutal.  I pushed her in gently by her fanny while trying not to cry and look totally ridiculous.  I told the women at the desk that Wilma was fantastic but that she couldn’t co-exist with my dog Ric.  I told her that Wilma loved to be in her crate at night time, that she feared cats and never attacked them.  She was good on a leash, listened to commands (for the most part), and went outside to go to the bathroom.  The only issue was my other dog.  They were very understanding and after some paper work, I left the SPCA in tears like a pussy and headed home.  I love animals, and this one was tough, but it was the right decision.  I post this entry for the hopes that if anyone is looking for a great dog, the go visit Wilma at:

SPCA SERVING ERIE COUNTY

205 Ensminger Road
Tonawanda, NY 14150
(716) 875-7360 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (716) 875-7360      

Her link is here:  http://www.yourspca.org/page.aspx?pid=423

Bistro Europa is Top Notch

    This weekend was Nicole’s birthday.  My parents came down and took us out to Bambino Bar and Kitchen.  It was fantastic as usual, but this review is about our Saturday night.  I had made us reservations to Bistro Europa on Elmwood Avenue.  This was a restaurant that always made us hate the fact that we were vegetarians.  Its unique, cozy, European look and their constantly changing menu and specials, always sparked our curiosity.  We could never go before because everything on the menu involves some sort of meet or seafood.  No longer being vegetarians, we were eager to try this place out.
    We arrived like 15 minutes early.  The inside was artsy and dimly lit.  From the sidewalk outside, its almost impossible to see inside and I was not expecting it to look the way that it did when we got in.

There was a couple that had reservations a few minutes before us and they were in front of us.  They told the women at the bar that they had reservations and the women at the bar said that she was able to seat them immediately.  The people then said that they “wanted to see the menu first”.  So the women handed the couple menus, and then said that she could seat us immediately also.  She said that we could choose whatever table we would like.  So of course we choose the best table in the place, in the corner by the window.  The couple looking at the menu got angry that we chose their table and left.  To that couple who made reservations and then left:

“If you make reservations for a restaurant, please have an idea of what the menu usually consists of before you decide to waste their time.  Otherwise while you are wasting everybody’s time deciding if you want to eat there, Nicole and I will steal your table.”
“Yes, that was us that stole your table.”

With that being said, we sat down and ordered a round of beers.  The beer selection was all really great craft bottles.  I started off with The Stone Levitation and Nicole had a Hefeweizen.

For an appetizer we ordered the cabbage and pork pierogi.  For our entrees, Nicole had ordered the Sea Bass and I had ordered the Steak Frites.  The pierogi arrived in less than 10 minutes.  They were very large and looked amazing.  3 pierogi on a bed of sour cream all seasoned and they looked delicious.  Each pierogi was filled generously with extremely tender shredded pork and cabbage.  These were simply amazing. 

Pork and Cabbage Pierogi

They menu states that they serve pierogi, but they do not commit to a specific kind.  The menu at this place changes daily so you never know what your options will be.  Wishing we had placed a double order, we finished our pierogi.  Our entrees came out next.  My steak appeared before me cooked to perfection (medium rare), sliced nicely neighboring a generous portion of home made fries and a tasty looking side salad.
Steak Frites

Nicole’s sea bass was really impressive.  She is new to the whole fish thing so her reaction to different species is unpredictable.  She was blown away, every piece of fish and vegetable on her plate melted in her mouth.  She is allergic to shellfish and the original menu item was dressed in a lobster sauce.  The chef was also the owner so he was able to prepare a special sauce for her of his choosing.  If we had to guess it was some sort of orange wine sauce, I could be way off in that assumption but it was awesome.  As she approached the last bite of food on her plate, she just sat there looking at it and said, “I don’t want this fish to be gone.”

Sea Bass

    Nothing about this dining experience was bad.  Everything from the service to the food was nothing short of amazing.  This was easily one of the best restaurants we have been to in Buffalo.

Bistro Europa
(716) 884-1100 
484 Elmwood Ave
Buffalo, NY 14222
www.europabuffalo.com

Bistro Europa on Urbanspoon

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