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I first visited La Scala in October when the spacious Transit Road restaurant hosted a breast cancer benefit and fashion show.

Although it was packed, I was impressed with the style and vibe of the place, especially the unique bar and lounge area, which features a layout that would make a feng shui devotee proud: comfortable leather couches and chairs anchor one side of the room, Remington figurines sit atop a sturdy table, and the busy bar, gleaming with shiny dark wood and brass rails, has enough chairs and high-top tables to accommodate a large crowd.

A group of revelers were having fun in the bar atrium, located next to the bar but nicely separated by a wall.

On the night we bellied up to that bar, a celebration was in order as we commemorated my husband’s birthday. Dan will never be mistaken for a guy who likes wearing a funny hat as a wait staff serenades him, so we kept the festivities low-key. We were greeted by Trish and Gary, who said we could order anything off the menu at the bar.

I asked Gary about La Scala’s signature drinks, ranging from a Reserve Manhattan, Southern Old Fashioned and Perfect Margarita all priced reasonably at $7 each. Forgoing my usual wine order, I opted for the Key Lime Martini, also seven bucks, and was assured by Gary that I would love it. He mentioned that it was his second day on the job and the first Key Lime Martini he made at his new gig. New or not, Gary was right on the money. The martini was tasty and satisfying; Dan had no complaints about his Tanqueray and Tonic.

While we chatted and kept an eye on an exciting college football game on the flat-screen hanging on the back wall, we checked the pizza menu. In the adjacent Tuscan Room, a deck oven churns out a variety of gourmet pies.

Both of us had worked up an appetite so Trish, able and friendly, placed a small tablecloth – or was it a giant linen napkin – on the bar in front of us. As we awaited the arrival of our seafood platter of crab cakes, calamari and scallops, Dan and I enjoyed a variety of Italian music on the sound system. As “O Sole Mio” played on, Dan selected an Arancini (rice ball resting in delicious marina sauce) and I chose a Fatoush Salad.

As Trish set us up with a second round, Nicky and Ed settled in next to us. After enjoying the same type of martini I had, Nicky moved on to a Stoli and Tonic. “I had an office party here,” she said. “We enjoyed the experience here so Ed and I will stop in every once in a while for a date night.”

Ed, nursing a Blue Light, cited the “casually elegant” atmosphere and said how he enjoys eating at the bar. “There’s a little more atmosphere here than in most bars,” Ed said.

We’ll drink to that!

La Scala

Where: 9210 Transit Road, East Amherst (213-2777)

Scene: Casual-upscale, comfortable vibe with everyone from the hostess to the bar staff making guests feel welcome. Bar and lounge area among the many rooms, each with a specific ambience (including bar atrium, Tuscan Room, main and private dining rooms). Perfect date night spot.

Drinks: A wonderful and reasonably priced signature cocktail menu along with the standard wines and spirits.

Dress code: Business casual, but no one is turned away.

Entertainment: Live dinner music, jazz bands or two-piece combos available on special occasions and holidays.