My second meal in Buffalo. This time I had company and felt much
less lonely than I did at the Anchor Bar.
This is also a place that has been getting some press. Known for
handmade Italian fare the place has been described with the
words…“Looks like the Bronx, tastes like Manhattan.” Five minutes
outside of Buffalo in Lakawana NY The Mulberry sits in what appears
to be a purely residential neighborhood with lots of folks sitting
on the front porch watching people head off to a meal.
Plain looking from the outside it has a much more swanky interior
with white table cloths and loads of signed headshots and
memorabilia hanging from the walls. Our server was quick and
appeared on the ball, even if she missed a couple of things on the
menu, she was quick to check and straighten out the whiffs.
Everything was well timed in delivery and she was really good at
checking in to make certain everything was going well.
I had seen Mulberry and Chef Jerge on an episode of
Diners Drive Ins
and Dives and was impressed by the attention to detail and all of
the homemade goodies the place churns out from pasta to meatballs
everything is done in house. My companion was up for just about
anything and we ordered the meatball and calamari for apps, the
daily lasagna and braised veal cheeks. Italian bread arrived with
olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The appetizers followed quickly and
ended up being a mixed bag.
THE BALL OF MEAT
The meatball is enormous in every way…size, heft and flavor. The
sphere ranges somewhere between a baseball and a softball. It’s
almost like a small roast. It is also dense, walking around the rest
of the day I never forgot I had eaten ¾ of this beast as it rolled
around in my innards like a shot-put. Never a regret because chewing
the monstrosity was delightful. Very forward meatiness and a
surprising amount of black pepper are the first things that struck
me. With the size the texture is spot-on as it barely clings to
itself until you begin to chew; which is when it generously
surrenders its flavors simultaneously by disintegrating. Then you
get all the rest of the usual suspects, garlic, greens, etc. which
make for a serious meatball. Top it all off with a fresh red sauce
and it is something to behold and devour. Worth standing in the Mac
store thinking…oh that was a lot of meatball. Molto Bene!
Unfortunately the squid didn’t continue in the same vein. It was
chewy and the breading didn’t really do much to offset the gnaw.
Traditional Caesar salads came with the meals which were fresh and
had a nice dressing but were functional at best.
Check Out The Size Compared to the Ho-Hum but Full-Sized Plate of Squid
"Small" Lasagna; Different Every Day
Braised Veal Cheeks With Unique Risotto
Perfect Tender Braisiness
Everyday the lasagna varies and it is as much a beast as the meatball. We tried the small plate which was plenty. The cinder block sized portions on other tables proved we had made the right choice as far as size was concerned. Today the layers consisted on sliced meatball, mushrooms, banana peppers, and roasted pork along with the cheese and the house rolled pasta. The earthiness of the fungus was excellent and the bite of the peppers mediated the rest of the seriously rich innards. A really well done brick of Italian tastiness.
I ordered one of the specials which were the veal cheeks. Braised to
a ridiculously succulent richness the cheeks themselves were
superior. Expertly seasoned and prepared to perfection. The meat sat
atop a risotto flavored with a cheese I had never heard of before.
Apparently an Italian tradition that might be in danger due to the
intensity of the labor required to produce it, I found the Bitto
cheese to be something like a grassier Parmesan with a nice stretch
and salty flavor. The rice itself was well done, lack of which has
been the failure of many an Italian restaurant, it all came together
really well. The only suspicion I had was whether the sauce
underneath had been intensely reduced (possible) or had been quickly
thickened with a slurry of some sort (likely) as it very quickly
skinned over once the plate hit the table. Still it was really good
overall. Mulberry is a fine Italian destination in a quiet
neighborhood. Feels a little like home. In some ways, I hope never
to return (some of you will understand) but if I should ever find
myself in the Buf again…for whatever reason…I might have to spend
the day complaining about how full I am from those gargantuan but