Trattoria Aroma's signature rabbit

Keith Dulak always believed Buffalo diners would enjoy rabbit, if they gave it a chance. Growing up on the West Side, the Sicilian wing of his family ate rabbit with gusto on special occasions. Now a chef, Dulak had rabbit braised in Riesling on his first menu at Trattoria Aroma (307 Bryant St., 881-7592) five years ago.

Once diners get a taste of his "Pappardelle alla Lepre" ($19), many rabbit rookies change their minds, he said. That's a dish based on the restaurant's own pappardelle, wide ribbons of pasta, tossed with rabbit and the rich, reduced braising juices, including pancetta, wild mushrooms, carrots and more. The pasta is tossed in a saute pan with the rabbit, then touched up with goat cheese and fresh rosemary.

Now it's one of his signature dishes at Trattoria Aroma's Buffalo location, he said. He prepares a batch, with about 40 pounds of rabbit at a time, every week or two.

He understands rabbit avoiders, he said. "I honestly think it's the vision people get of a little bunny rabbit, cute and hopping around." At Trattoria Aroma, though, the experience has many diners coming back for more. "It took it a while to catch on," said Dulak, "but I knew it would."

-- Andrew Z. Galarneau