ADVERTISEMENT

It's summertime and the grilling is easy. Hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages -- and the need for rolls. Ironically, this need led to the discovery of the cafe located in the Costanzo's bakery/retail location in Cheektowaga.

We had always known the cafe was there, but never ventured to try it until the hectic morning of The Big Family Party. Our Stop No. 2 was roll pickup at 10 a.m. With no time (or inclination) to cook breakfast and no lunch in sight, we decided to kill two birds with one stone.

Sliding over to the cafe counter, we ordered two breakfast sandwiches: a ham, egg and cheese and a spinach, egg and cheese (both $2.80). Sandwiches soon in hand, we headed outside to Costanzo's darling patio with our stash. One bite and we were in heaven.

The lightly toasted warm roll held a fluffy, omelet-like egg, folded, perfectly peppered and topped with a slice of ham. The other was exactly the same, but with a healthy dose of spinach.

Of course, the bread made the sandwich. While some may prefer a really crusty version of a roll, Constanzo's are a meatier lot, with a softer exterior that doesn't rip your gums up with each bite.

Sinking our teeth in, we were delighted. Missing was the greasy, fake taste so often encountered with that egg-mcmuffiny thing and its offspring. These sandwiches were fresh, fresh, fresh. Fluffy egg, ham, spinach -- all with that divine roll -- did we mention it was really fresh?

A sausage, egg and cheese ($2.99) is also available. For the purists, there are buttered hard rolls (95 cents), buttered sub rolls ($2.15/$1.75) and buttered torpedoes (95 cents).

This brief encounter convinced us to try Costanzo's cafe again.

The word might be getting out about Costanzo's because the next time we went, a guy ordering in front of us was there on a friend's recommendation. We were not disappointed, either.

Our subsequent visits (yes, we really like this place for a quick meal) produced equally happy results, with the super fresh roll the star of the show. You can get a regular, whole wheat or even sun-dried tomato in some cases. Whole subs are 12 inches, a mini is 8 inches.

A basic cheeseburger on a hard roll ($4.10) was satisfying; there's also a Cheeseburger Sub ($7.25 whole/$5.25 mini). The Chicken Fajita Strip Sub ($7.50/$5.35) was even better, with tender strips of chicken, melted cheddar jack cheese and the addition of hot peppers. A Steak in the Grass ($8.50/$6.75, also available with chicken) was mighty tasty, with pieces of grilled sirloin steak topped with spinach, onions, hot peppers, Swiss cheese and either seasoned oil or garlic spread.

There are regular subs (turkey, ham, roast beef, assorted) starting at $4.75 for a mini. The Italian Delight ($8.95/$7.05) is filled with Italian sausage, ham, capicola and salami. The Belly Buster ($9.60) rocks steak and sausage on a half loaf of French bread, with fried onions, hot peppers, provolone, tomato, lettuce and mayo or seasoned oil. Panini are offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, at various prices. There are also daily subs.

Sides are limited to a seasonal soup of the day ($2.70), bags of chips (95 cents) or cookies (95 cents) from the bakery side. But with bread this fantastic, it's pretty much all you need.

Costanzo's only takes cash, but there's an onsite ATM. Food orders can be placed ahead of time for pickup.

***

COSTANZO'S BAKERY    

3 pennies (out of four)    

"Give us this daily bread"    

WHERE: 300 Innsbruck Drive, Cheektowaga (656-9093, www.costanzosbakery.com)    

HOURS: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.    

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes