In 26 years as a server, Valerie Meli has served quite a few Black Rock customers from behind the bar at Rohall’s Corner and Nietszche’s. On Saturday night, she was working as usual, except this time the bar was hers.
Hot Mama’s Canteen (12 Military Road, 783-8222) is across the street from the Phoenix on Amherst Street. Meli opened the place with Glen Plato, who helped her establish her Headstone Heat hot sauce business in 2010. It was formerly Hilliker’s Pasttime.
It’s a bar with a tavern menu, starting out small with burgers, grilled sandwiches, vegetarian items, hand-cut french fries and sweet potato fries. Toward late summer, full-fledged entrees will be introduced, she said. Of course, her hot sauces will be available at the table.
One of the standouts on the menu will be “Mama Bombs,” which are arancini, rice balls made from risotto stuffed with fillings, rolled into a ball, crumbs and deep-fried.
Meli, who’s Sicilian, said it wasn’t until she ate arancini in restaurants that she realized her family’s standards were different. While most were orange-sized – arancina means “little orange” – the Meli family made its more like grapefruit-sized.
Those “Mama Bombs,” $5, contain about 8 ounces of cooked rice, plus meat or vegetarian filling, she said. “That’s good for an appetizer for two, or a meal.” Also on the menu: grilled Spam sandwich with white cheddar and Weber’s mustard ($6.75).
Underway: The hot dog stand that developer Rocco Termini is putting into a shipping container-based building at 128 Genesee St. – that is equally known for the risque name – should be open at the beginning of August.
“It’s under construction now,” he said of Dog é Style. “It’ll be gourmet hot dogs and more, with a full bar,” Termini said. Chef Mike Andrzejewski, who has partnered with Termini in downtown Italian restaurant Tappo, will consult on the menu, but it hasn’t been worked out yet.
Termini will be overseeing the restaurant-themed apparel, among other details. “We’re going to have an online competition for designing the T-shirts,” Termini said. In other words, double entendres will be on the menu.
“People have been talking since we announced it,” said Termini. “If it didn’t have that name, no one would have noticed we were opening a hot dog stand in downtown Buffalo.”
Expanding: Café 59 will open a second location on Porter Avenue this fall, said owner Chris Connolly.
It should be open by late August at 388 Porter. The former shop, Morning Glory Café, had its last day Friday.
The new place will be “more of an express option, focusing on coffee, espresso drinks and baked goods,” with sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch, he said.
Renovations to the 500-square-foot place will be limited. It should take about two months, he said. “If we can be open earlier, we will be.”
Working: One of the longest-serving pizzerias on Elmwood Avenue is working on plans to open a second location at 13 E. Mohawk St.
“It’s going to be pretty much a carbon copy of the Elmwood location, without the banquet hall,” said Jeff Jacobbi of Casa di Pizza. “But it’s not quite a done deal yet.”
Hopefully “we can open in the fall,” he said. “But we’ve been running into some complications.” A contract has been signed, but if the restaurant can’t get the permits it needs from the city to pursue its plans, then it’ll fall through, he cautioned. If it works out, it’ll be about half the size of the Elmwood Casa di Pizza, he said. “We’ve been on Elmwood for 61 years.”
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