Tag Archives: Buffalo New York Restaurants

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Dear Digestion Suggestion Readers, I have transferred all of my food reviews, recipes and fiction over to my new website: www.smtraphagen.com. Please visit the site, share with others, and follow me!


The site is still under construction but we are on our way! Thank you so much for your continued support.


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There is no other, like a recipe from down under!

Narellan, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney Australia is home to many–including my cousin Rosa. Migrating from the Italian shores, Rosa and her family settled here when she was young. Just over 30 miles from Sydney proper, Narellan is home to 3,400 residents, steeped in culture and surrounded by beauty and an array of amazing cuisine.

Known for it’s Asian cuisine, Narellan is also know for Balkan and Italian foods, and sits close to Camden, a town known for it’s cafes. Places like Squeeze and Grind, a 4.5 star café, offers brilliant tapas, breakfast and lunch menus, while Salute Trattoria is well versed in the splendor of fine Italian cuisine.

So why am I writing about Australia on a WNY blog? Well, because like any area, in any country, we all have diverse cultures in our regions. People move and settle in many places across the globe. Here in WNY, we have roughly half a million Italians who have settled here or have relatives who came over from Italy to start a new life.

In Italy, drought and crop failure combined with heavy taxation forced many to flee the country, in search of better opportunities. 14,000 Italian immigrants came to Buffalo during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The opportunities that attracted immigrants depended largely on prior family settlement. For the Italians who came to the Buffalo area, it was often the case that someone from a local village needed to blaze a trail before others followed. It is estimated that (after 1901) as many as fifteen hundred passages to Buffalo per year were financed by relatives.

Behind the curtain of ethnicity, there was (and is) great diversity. By 1910 Italians from hundreds of villages in 16 different provinces — such as Abruzzi, Calabria, Campobasso, Campagna, and the Island of Sicily, lived in different parts of Buffalo. An intricate network of Italian communities started to thrive in various sections of our “Golden Gate” city:

    • the Abbruzzese went to the upper East Side of Buffalo
    • the Campobassini to the lower East Side
    • the Calabrians to South Buffalo
    • the Campagnese adjacent to downtown
    • the Sicilians, the largest group, to the lower West Side in the vicinity of the waterfront.

This infusion of Italian culture led to one of the greatest gifts WNY has to offer–our food! Places Like Romeo & Juliet’s, Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, Mulberry’s, Lebro’s, Tappo, Marco’s Italian Deli, and Osteria 166 are just a few of the delectable, wonderfully tantalizing restaurants that our fair city has to offer.

WNY is moving up, shaking off the rust from the chains that bound us, and creating a dizzying labyrinth of a colorful, creative, artistic Buffalo NY.

Below is a fabulous recipe my cousin Rosa has provided and is versatile for vegetarian or gluten free options. Rosa has just completed her cooking studies after years of government work, and is now following her dreams; creating distinct and regional dishes that are very much her own creation.

Timballo Di Riso e Melezane (Bake Rice Dish with Eggplant)10953287_10152690317457887_249086473_n

Overall Ingredients:

400 G of short grain rice

4 eggplant sliced

1 Cup of seed oil for frying

2 cups of peas

2 cups of mozzarella or shredded cheese

1kg of Beef Mince

1 Onion diced finely

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 x 2550grams large can of peeled tomatoes

1 Bottle of tomato passatta

1 bunch of basil

¼ cup off Olive Oil

1 cup of red wine

Salt and pepper to season

Bolognese Sauce Ingredients:

1kg of Beef Mince

1 Onion diced finely

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 x 2550grams large can of peeled tomatoes

1 Bottle of tomato passatta

1 bunch of basil

¼ cup off Olive Oil

1 cup of red wine

Salt and pepper to season


In a deep pan heat the beef mince over a high heat, until all the meat juices has either evaporated or you can pour it out of the pot.

Add the red wine and allow the flavour to infuse with the beef mince until all the wine has evaporated.

In the same the pot drizzle the olive oil over a high heat and add diced onion and garlic, sauté and allow to soften.

Add the peeled tomatoes and bottle of passatta.

Pour 1 cup of water in the empty tomato can and pour the liquid in the sauce, the same for the bottle of passatta.

Season with Salt and Pepper

Add the basil

Cook for 3-4 hours over low heat until it thickens

Preparing the Eggplants: 

1) Wash the eggplants, dry and then slice thinly. Sprinkle the slices of coarse salt, chard in a colander and let drain for 30 minutes. Elapsed time, rinse them and pat dry with a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper.

2) Heated the oil of seeds in a frying pan and fry the eggplant. As they are ready, drain them on absorbent kitchen paper, and drizzle with a pinch of salt. 3) Gently fry the chopped onion in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of oil.

Once combined pour the mixture into the pre lined cake dish which has been sprayed with cooking spray, I use a cake dish with a hole in the middle but you can use any type of baking dish, line the cake dish with the layers of eggplant slightly overlapping.

3) Boil for 12 minutes the rice in boiling salted water once cooked strain, place in a bowl and mix in the Bolognese sauce and mozzarella or shredded cheese and sprinkle with parmesan cheese combine everything together you can add as much sauce as you like, pour mixture into the prepare dish, fold the eggplant to cover the mixture and bake at 180 °C and bake for 20-30 minutes.10941692_10152690317487887_2133653738_n

*(Please note you don’t have to have Bolognese sauce with this dish you can just make a plain tomato sauce and add your vegetables as desired)

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Blog Updates: Guest Blog for Buffalo Eats!

Hello all!

It’s friday- thank goodness and I have some great blog updates to share. Buffalo Eats, a regional well known general food website has published a food review I’ve written.

It seems to have gotten some great feedback. Please check it out here: http://buffaloeats.org/2014/02/05/the-lodge/

Also I will be doing another featured guest blog for them at the end of February and will post it to my site as well.

My next Digestion Suggestion food review will post mid February. Have a great weekend everyone!


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Rachel’s Mediterranean


Ahh- the Mediterranean Sea, boasting luscious fruits, seaport living, and an abundance of sun and surf most of the year round. It also is home to retiring baby boomers and to some of the most delectable cuisine our world has to offer.

From Provencal and Italian to Croatian and Greek; the Mediterranean spans a wide variety of cultures and therefore a wide variety of cuisine. Please do not make the mistake of thinking the words cuisine and diet are inter-changeable. Mediterranean cuisine is not a “Mediterranean Diet”. The latter is an Americanized term for a loose diet consisting of Mediterranean style foods and sans carbs. But with so many options and variety there should be no classification at all.

Take Rachel’s Mediterranean for example. Family owned since 2005; Husband and wife team Henri and Hannah Khoury took Greek cuisine and wrapped it up with simple contemporary flare. Their commercial success eventually led to their son expanding the business and adding two new locations; one at the corner of Chippewa and Delaware Street in the heart of the entertainment district and the more recent addition of the Hamburg location on McKinley Pkwy right across from Five Guys Restaurant.

What makes Rachel’s unique is the simple menu options and “make your own” style buffet. It’s Greek food done fast. Huh? Think of it this way, when you’re at a carnival and you see the “Greek Food Tent”, you know the one- people are lined up 20 deep just to get a gyro the way only the greek can do it…well it’s that simple. You walk up to the counter, pick out your meat, toppings and bread or wrap and off you go. It’s healthy, fresh and made right in front of you (for the most part). If I have to nitpick (and thus I must), the Gyro meat is not on a vertical spit but rather already cut and sitting in a tin that is warmed underneath. It looks rubbery and not very fresh. Not my favorite thing to see. When I think Gyro, I think juicy lamb meat stacked or slid onto a vertical spit that rotates and is carved fresh as you order.

With my one exception, Rachel’s offers up a delicious array of chicken souvlaki, chicken kabob, gyro souvlaki or kabob, homemade schawarma sauce ( a combination of thinly sliced meat in a piping hot pita with a secret sauce like only Rachel’s can make it) and various bread bowl or wrap options. Toppings include such items as tzatziki sauce (tangy cucumber dip with garlic and seasonings), tabbouleh (homemade), dill sauce, kalamata olives, glazed onions, peppers, and greek oil.

I tend to go for the chicken souvlaki and I layer it with dill sauce, kalamata olives, tabbouleh, and brown rice. Oh and maybe a side of their amazing greek style French fries. The fries alone will have you going back for more. Thick steak cut fries drenched in greek oil, dill sauce and feta cheese (for me it’s hold the cheese). There’s not much more to say about it.

I have been to two locations; both the Delaware location and the Hamburg location. The menu is straight forward and simple, so no rupturing a vein trying to decide what to order and the pricing is reasonable.  A meal for two (two wraps) with a side order of fries and two drinks was just $20.00 plus tax.

While the décor (in the Hamburg location) is sparse and vacant, it’s the food you go for. And for those of you with digestive sensitivities you can control what goes on your dish and in your mouth. The chef cooks (or reheats) right in front of you; making it easy to watch what he’s adding and ask questions if there are concerns. I found they were very accommodating with my lactose intolerance and asked me if I was allergic to butter (which I’m not- THANK GOD). But it impressed me that they thought to ask that. Not many chefs’ do.

Rachel’s is doing it right. It’s greek healthy food done fast. They’ve put their own spin on Mediterranean and are serving it up to the masses.

Rachel's Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

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Seeking Thai or Indian Food? Digestion Suggestion has your top three picks!

If there are any of you who love Indian and Thai food as much as I do you will be glad to know that Buffalo is a hot spot for Asian infused cuisine. India cuisine encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and occupations, these cuisines vary significantly from each other and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and traditions.

The development of these cuisines have been shaped by Dharmic beliefs, and in particular by vegetarian diets, which is a growing trend in Indian culture and across many northern cultures. There is also Central Asian influence on North Indian cuisine from the years of Mughal and Turkic Delhi Sultanate rule.  

Historical incidents such as foreign invasions, trade relations and colonialism have played a role in introducing certain foods to the country.  Potatoes are a staple of Indian diet and was brought to India by the Portuguese, who also introduced chillies and breadfruit.  Spices played a universal role when bought from India and traded around Europe and Asia. It has also influenced other cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia, the British Isles and the Caribbean.

Here in America, Indian food has blended with other asian influences and done so nicely. Here are top faves in Buffalo NY:

My number three pick is: Kabab and Curry. Located on 5185 Transit Road in Williamsville NY, Kabab and Curry is and Indian/Pakistani infused cuisine. From A la carte to catering, Kabab and Curry has a little bit of everything.  They even have a spice meter for those who don’t like their food ultra spicy- like me and they also offer lunch and dinner buffets that range in price from $8.99- $12.99. The dinner buffet is only offered on Wednesday nights. Not a bad price for an all you can eat buffet. Kabab and Curry offers heart healthy and gluten free options which will be symbolized on the menu. Now for food I highly recommend their Aloo Kababs ($3.95). Made with potato, ginger, garlic and corriander, this appetizer is served with chutney and is a great portion sized starter that can be made vegan for those who don’t eat meat. The Sambar ($3.95) is a lentil and curry leaves soup that packs a ton of flavor and spices into one bowl of soup. The red chili and corriander stand out in this dish, warming the cockles  on these brutal winter nights. For main dishes- the chicken biryani ($12.95) has to be one of my favorite dishes. Made with basamti rice, it is marinated with your choice of meat, vegetables, saffron and spices and then slow cooked. Your mouth waters when you see it handed to you plated a top homemade yogurt. You can’t go wrong with this dish. With a wide variety, Kabab and Curry is a great choice.

My number two pick is- India Gate. Located at 1116 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY; India Gate is a great “best of both worlds” style Indian restaurant. It infuses different mixtures of asian influence and serves it up on warm Naan Bread. My favorite is the Dal ($9.95). It is a great lunch time meal that doesn’t leave you in a food coma. I usually order it with black lentils; seasoned with garlic, ginger and served on basmati rice.  The lamb curry ($12.95) is also a great dish. Lamb, while lean, can be a bit much if you have a sensitive stomach. It is seasoned with herb sauce and served over (again) basmati rice. Basmati rice is a very popular indian dish and commonly served with most foods. Any of your dishes can be served with Naan bread. An absolute staple for me. I am partial to the garlic naan, but they offer the traditional naan as well. Reasonably priced, this is a great place for an energized lunch before heading back to the office to finish that proposal that’s due at the end of the day.

And my number one pick is……..Taj Grill. Taj Grill is located at 2290 Delaware Ave, Buffalo NY.  A stunning and rich atmosphere lends itself to a truly unique experience. The scroll work and decorations are authentic to the region; with the family taking pride in showing off what their culture is truly about. Family owned, Taj Grill maintains a high level of quality in the food it serves.

The spinach Gota (2.50) appetizer is a great way to start your meal. Yes it’s fried, but the mixture of the spinach and chickpea batter is too good to pass up. Also on the hit list is Samosa, Tikki or Papdi chat ($5.95). This scrumptious app is served with chick peas, homemade yogurt, mint and tamarind chutney. Chutney is an acquired taste, so ask your server for a taste sample before ordering. The servers are happy to accommodate and, I found, very pleasant about any “special dietary” requests. When ordering main dishes, their clay oven choices stand out from many others that offer the same. It all comes down to how the chef prepares the dishes and it is evident he knows the spices to use. Each one is carefully balanced with meats and vegetables that complete the dish. The Taj Grill Special ($16.95) jam packs a feast into one meal. Plated with Chicken Tandoori, Shrimp Tandoori, Chicken Tikka, and boti kebab; this dish is served on a sizzling platter of sautéed onions and green peppers – and your choice of curry. Also served with fresh baked Naan.

For those new to India cuisine, you can’t go wrong with a simple chicken dish. My favorite for those new to this scene would be the Chicken Saag ($12.95), made with tender pieces of chicken and prepared with fresh spinach and a delicate blend of spices. I also like the Butter Chicken ($12.95), which is made with boneless roasted chicken thigh meat specially cooked with butter, sweet tomato sauce, cashews and raisins. It’s a buttery sweet, light dish. Along with seafood and gamey selections; Taj Grill has quite a large selection to choose from. Yet the prices are very competitive compared to most higher end speciality restaurants.

And I can’t end this post without mentioning at least one dessert- and that would be the Kheer ($2.95) at Taj Grill. A aromatic rice pudding made with pastachios and raisins. A delicacy in Indian culture; you feel almost honored when it’s placed in front of you. I have not found to many places that make a good rice pudding. But I can always bank on Taj Grill to get it right every time.

I will end this post with stressing my least favorite Indian restaurants. I hate to do it but it has to be done. Both Bollywood Bistro and Grill Kabab were not only a disappointment in the arena of decor, but the usually blended spices in traditional Indian cuisine was lack luster and pungent to say the least. If your looking for a first time experience, I would not recommend either one of these places.

See you all next week for my Christmas post!

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