What Makes a Great Dish? Grilled Octopus and Branzino
What makes a great dish? It’s an excellent question and one that may challenge you to pause and enjoy your favorite dishes in new ways. Close your eyes and inhale. Chew just a little slower. Taste each bite completely…
If you have not yet had the opportunity to sample these two Buffalo area favorites, make a point to visit Ristorante Lombardo and Tempo soon.
Ristorante Lombardo, $13.50
Served with smoky white beans, fresh arugula, and pickled fennel, this grilled octopus is surprisingly tender and rich. Dare to close your eyes and you will have no idea what meat you’re eating. The octopus is not simply grilled, but rather, it’s tenderized and then poached in a broth of water, white wine, red wine vinegar, pickling spice, and some aromatic vegetables, for about two hours. The difference is clear in the taste and texture. The octopus possesses a serious barbecue flavor, and just the right amount of char plays off of the pairings, working especially well with the smoked paprika of the beans and the sweet and sour flavors of the fennel. Use your knife to scrape that last bit off the plate because every bite of this dish is treasured.
1198 Hertel Ave., 873-4291, ristorantelombardo.com
Grilled branzino fish
Nestled in an herb infused broth with cherry tomatoes so soft they’re ready to burst, the dish can best be described as delicate, from the branzino to the gnocchi. The savory fish (packed with flavor from the broth) surrenders to your fork with the gentlest prod. It is served over potato gnocchi, which is so delightfully big and billowy, you’ll fear it falling apart. The quintessentially Italian preparation is straightforward, with every ingredient on display for the diner, but a touch of mystery comes in the sweet fennel tucked beneath the fish—it adds depth, making each bite count.
581 Delaware Ave., 885-1594, tempobuffalo.com
What’s your favorite restaurant dish in Buffalo?