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A suburban favorite in the EV
By Jessica Keltz; photos by Jim Bush

In a way, Trattoria Aroma’s recent southward move — adding a second restaurant in Buffalo to complement its beloved Williamsville location — could be considered part of a larger trend. Soup specialist Brodo began on the Elmwood strip, then added a Snyder location, and Hertel Avenue favorite Romeo and Juliet’s now has a second restaurant in Amherst. For those of us who prefer to dine within walking distance of home, moves like these can mean exciting new culinary options. So, when I found out that a new-yet-tested pizza/pasta/wine haven was slated for the former Just Pasta storefront on Bryant, I was definitely excited.

On my first visit to Trattoria Aroma, I started with pan-fried artichokes. Three half-portions of the vegetable were accompanied by a scant handful of sharply flavored greens dressed with just a dab of balsamic vinaigrette. The artichokes’ smell, oddly, reminded me of fried seafood—something about the combination of a substantial, salty breading, and a squirt of lemon. Though not strongly seasoned, they were well prepared, with no tough ends, yet a firm texture. I would definitely eat these again.

My dining companion did not fare so well with her first course, a cold zucchini/tomato/basil soup on special that night she described as tasting “like cold pasta sauce.” The bits of goat cheese didn’t add much; rather than contributing a sharpness or tanginess to the dish, they were “gritty” and “bland.”

For our entrees, we both selected pastas, a house specialty, and I also made a second visit to taste the pizza Aroma is known for. My selection, the Pappardelle Piemonte, was wonderfully hearty considering its ingredients: wild mushrooms, spinach, and shaved parmesan in a garlic/olive oil sauce. The mushrooms tasted like shiitakes, but less earthy, and every ingredient was perfectly cooked to its correct texture.

The Parpardelle Mare e Monte was less of a hit; while the pasta and pan-seared tenderloin were cooked just as well as my spinach and mushrooms, the garlic white wine parsley broth seemed underseasoned. Tiny sea scallops sounded wonderful but tasted a bit too fishy and got lost amongst the big flat sheets of pasta.

But Aroma’s pizza lives up to its region-wide reputation. Its ultra-thin crust is crisp without being hard, and also makes the dish much lighter than it looks. Topping pizza with spinach, gorgonzola, halved grape tomatoes, and caramelized onions could be a huge mistake because so many things could go wrong—mushy spinach, or mushy tomatoes with tough slippery skins for starters—but nothing did, to say the least. Each ingredient retained its own flavor and a firm texture, creating a great variety of tastes that complemented each other well.

Desserts at Aroma are winners as well, although I thought my pistachio gelato could have been served in a much smaller portion. The tiramisu was described as “fresh and light” and ringed with a rich chocolate puddle for dipping. After a meal like that, it could easily serve two.

In addition to pizzas and pastas, Trattoria Aroma is known for its extensive Italian wine list; while most selections are sold by the bottle, about six to eight reds and the same number of whites can be had by the glass. The menu also includes specialty cocktails.

As is the case with so many restaurants, a large part of Trattoria Aroma’s appeal comes from ambiance. The main dining room opens up onto a step-above-the-sidewalk shaded patio and the bar makes an ideal place to sip wine, share a heap of cheese and olives with an old friend and spend the evening catching up. And now that it’s located in one of Buffalo’s most sought-after neighborhoods, you can watch the world go by as you dine.

Trattoria Aroma
307 Bryant St., 881-7592

Jessica Keltz, an attorney and former journalist, lives, works, plays, and eats south of North Street in the city of Buffalo.


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