Budget Crunch: Bada Bing
I’m not a sports bar regular, but the charismatic vibe of Bada Bing unexpectedly wooed me when I went there with friends for dinner and a Sabres game. From the bouncer who greeted us at the door to the server who waited on our table, the staff is friendly. There’s both a lively energy and a casual, laid-back atmosphere. It’s the kind of place people go after a workday to have a meal and watch a game, or on a Saturday night, dressed and ready to party. It’s also a popular downtown lunch spot. The place has regulars and I can see why.
There are high tops, booths, tables, and plenty of seating at the bar. Lining the walls are flat screen televisions for watching sports, and many patrons come to do just that. Indeed, before dining at Bada Bing, I probably would have called it a sports bar with Italian food, but customers appear to consider it as much restaurant as bar.
My dining companions and I started with an order of sweet potato fries ($4.99). Cut and cooked well, and served with butter and honey on the side, they were tasty. The menu’s variety of “sangwiches” intrigued us: what’s a “sangwich?” Answer: a sandwich that comes on a bomber roll expertly seasoned as garlic bread, and toasted to the ideal crunch. All with playful Italian names, the sandwiches’ protein options range from burgers to sausage to chicken and even egg. You can even add a stuffed hot banana pepper to any sandwich for $2.99.
We asked our server which was best, and she recommended The Bing ($10.99), which features steak topped with a stuffed hot banana pepper and a layer of melted provolone cheese. The steak was slightly overcooked, but the fantastic garlic bread roll, stuffed hot pepper, and hearty layer of cheese made up for it. Sandwiches come with a choice of sides, including fries, macaroni salad, potato salad, coleslaw, tomato and cucumber salad, and pasta. I sampled the spaghetti with marinara sauce and my group agreed this isn’t the place to visit for pasta.
Our group also tried the pizza and wings to see how they stacked up against Buffalo’s many tough competitors. Bada Bing proved a viable contender, and I noted the number of diners around us gobbling up hot orders of pizza and wings. The medium wings (ten for $8.25) were crispy and saucy, and served with a side of celery and bleu cheese. The server had informed us that they are pretty hot for medium wings, and she was right. Our cheese and pepperoni pizza ($16.50) had a nicely crispy crust, if a bit on the thin side. It was also a little greasy, but had fine flavor.
Buffalonians may call Bada Bing a great sports bar, but I can see how its patrons feel it’s a well-kept secret for a meal too. It had a good-sized, but not overwhelming crowd for a weeknight, which made a nice option for watching a weeknight game. Bada Bing also has free Wi-Fi.
115 West Chippewa St., Buffalo, NY 14202
Nina Barone is a marketing-communications professional and adventurous home cook. Equipped with a “spice rack” comprising three pantry shelves, she enjoys feeding one or a crowd. Read her blog at buffalofoodie.com.