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For Paul Cambria, working in a restaurant is a pleasant departure from the pressures of being a defense attorney.

"It's a nice employment sorbet for me," he said.

Cambria and his wife, Paula, who live in Spaulding Lake, have co-owned Gianni Mazia's Pasta and Pizza House on Main Street in Clarence for just over two years. Instead of talking to clients about serious charges they are facing, he can chat with customers about how they like their food.

The restaurant is a busy place, with 48 full- and part-time employees. It has added an outdoor patio as well as an adjacent seasonal hot dog and ice cream stand, called Lou-Lu's.

The obvious question is, how does someone like Cambria, of the firm Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, have time for a restaurant?

He credits his wife and Rob Schofield with handling the day-to-day responsibilities. (Paula Cambria also helped with the restaurant's name. She says she wanted to name their first child Gianni, but her husband vetoed it. This time, it stuck.) She also has past experience working in a restaurant, and Schofield also has a background in the business, having run his own pizza place before joining Gianni Mazia's as an operations manager.

"For me, it's made perfect sense," Schofield said. "I've been able to keep doing what I was doing."

But Cambria is hands-on when he is in the restaurant, Schofield said. "He does not shy away from clearing the tables, resetting the paper on the tables, talking to customers."

His presence does cause some double-takes from guests. "People will ask me, 'Is that Paul Cambria, the defense attorney?' " Schofield said.

Cambria is well-known for representing big-name clients and commenting on high-profile cases, but his restaurant resume might not be as familiar.

He used to be co-owner of the Bijou Grille, across from Shea's on Main Street. Cambria also used to have a hot dog stand in Fredonia, where he grew up. And while going through college, he worked as a restaurant line cook.

"It helps, because you really know how to make the food and you know what people like," he said.

Cambria is also proud of touches like a 5,000-pound, $25,000 wood oven he had trucked from Los Angeles. "It's the same one Wolfgang Puck uses."

Family ties abound at the restaurant. Three of his daughters work there.

"My kids are learning responsibility," Cambria said. "They're learning how to have a job, keep a job, how to deal with people."

The outdoor cafe was a logical addition to the restaurant, Cambria said.

"They're a huge success because in Buffalo, you're cooped up so long over the winter months and the terrible weather months, even in the fall or spring when it rains, as soon as it's nice, everyone wants to get outside."

Sounds like a closing argument.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com