The smell of chicken wings wafted in the air outside the Anchor Bar on Thursday, announcing from a block away the 50th anniversary of the widely accepted birthplace of the Buffalo food favorite.
Inside, all-you-can-eat wings, pepperoni pizza and beef on weck – a veritable no-man’s land for vegetarians – beckoned at a restricted party to celebrate the occasion. About 50 people enjoyed the food – invitees came and went – as Nick Battistella sang Frank Sinatra songs to pre-recorded instrumental tracks.
“The chicken wings are great here, everyone knows that. And I’ve been coming here since they opened,” said Kenny Lowry, with crispy wings stacked on his plate.
“The wings are wonderful. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for wings,” said Darryll Popielarski of Pendleton, another devoted Anchor Bar customer.
Drew Cerza, the self-styled “Wing King,” saluted the food’s invention, which happened nearly a month after the Beatles made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“Wings are definitely one of the most beloved foods in America,” he said.
Mayor Byron W. Brown issued a proclamation declaring “Buffalo Wing Day.” He was also his typically diplomatic self, saluting the Anchor Bar along with La Nova and Mister Pizza, also popular for their wings. Brown also praised the wings his wife, Michelle, prepares.
An orange cake drew astonished looks: The icing looked like chicken wings set on a plate with celery, carrots and dip, surrounded by a tablecloth and napkins with the Anchor Bar insignia.
“I thought someone left their plate on a box,” Cerza said.
Ivano Toscani, the head chef who has worked at the Anchor Bar for more than 40 years, shook well-wishers’ hands and posed with the mayor’s proclamation. But Toscani didn’t indulge in the wings himself.
“I like a nice pasta. A nice antipasto. I also like lobster and steak,” Toscani said. “But I don’t like chicken wings. I spit it out,” he said about the wing he was asked to try earlier.
The Anchor Bar chef, however, belonged in the minority, something his businessman’s side was no doubt glad to see.