Mix It Up at Vera
Great pizza sure, but Vera is so much more…cool vibe, awe-inspiring mixed drinks, savory small plates, beautiful entrees…and pizza extra-ordinaire. It reminds me of a 30s speak easy, or something out of a Paul Newman movie. The bartenders are perched at their station eagerly waiting their chance to create perfection in a glass- cocktails made with fresh juices, homemade concoctions and plenty of love. The wait staff is also ready to field the inevitable “what’s your favorite drink?”. They can make recommendations based on your liquor preference with the best of them.
Located near the food hip corner of Lexington and Ashland, next to Kuni’s Sushi Bar and across from The Place, Vera Pizzeria is anything but your traditional pizzeria. The dim lights, wood floors, brick surrounds and some outstanding dinner rock lend a sense of another place and time.
The space is not large at maybe 35′ x 45′. The bar covers one wall, tables against a banquet the other, some sturdy rectangular tall boys in the middle, roughly 10 foot ceilings, semi-open kitchen in the back. Nice big windows overlook Lexington, candles on the table, and a Longhorn antelope head decorates the space high above the bar.
Vera is well known around town for their tantalizing mixed drinks, and our tasting did not disappoint. The drink menu lists a great-looking assortment: Blood and Iron, The Concept, GlOgg, Brass Lantern, Devils Pride, Applied Science, Cardamon Spiced Old Fashioned, Hey Mister, Hot Rum & Cider, Fort Collins. Vera announced their Spring cocktail menu today.
Like a lot of the first timers we asked our waiter for some direction- told him what we like, don’t like, felt like, and he did a great job steering us to satisfaction. Our picks:
- Pepper Pots (for the daring – Egg white!) – Bourbon, maple syrup, fresh lemon, black walnut bitters, egg white, fresh ground pepper.
- Earhart – vodka, St. Jermaine, fresh lemon, blackberry and strawberry purée.
- Good Luck Chuck – Uncle Val’s botanical Gin, Lilly Blanc, Bernadictine, house made ginger tincture, green chartreuse rinse.
- Fort Collins – Barrel Aged Gin, house crafted rosemary syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice and sparkling water
Besides the great vibe and mixed drinks, these guys put out some terrific food. The menu is an eclectic grouping of pizza, small plates and entrees. According to their website it is “Cuisine inspired by the flavors of Italy and the people of Buffalo, N.Y.” Gotta be good.
- Ham and Chicken Croquettes with Maple Dijon aioli $8.
- Warm Duck and Pork Terrine – with pistachios, bacon, roasted apples and Cabernet cream – $12
- Fig Jam Pizza – balsamic fig jam, peaches, pickled red onions and smoked blue cheese – $14
- Pork Bianka Pizza – salt cured pork shoulder and smoked ham with Dijon white sauce, caramelized onions, asparagus and gruyère $14
- Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin – stuffed with Gorgonzola and dried mission figs served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and balsamic reduction – $18
This is another restaurant that does a great job of putting together layers of flavors and textures that oppose yet compliment. Creamy with crisp, salt with sweet, crunchy with smooth. Everything was fantastic. We all had different favorites. I loved the Fig Jam pizza, but one slice was enough. I could eat the Pork Bianka Pizza until I bust. Probably my favorite dish though was the Warm Duck and Pork Terrine. They slice the terrine, heat it up and dress it – sinfully good. Nothing was left unclaimed as a favorite.
Some of the items I’ll be back for:
- Beef Cheek Poutine – with red wine beef gravy and cheese curds over crispy fried potatoes – $10
- Truffled Deviled Eggs – with capers cornichons and crispy shallot rings – $6
- Goat Cheese stuffed Arancini – with the red wine tomato sauce and fresh herbs – $10
- Beef Short Rib Pot Pie – with Murphy’s Stout gravy and winter vegetables – $16
- Slow Roasted Pork Belly – with sweet potato mash, asparagus and caramelized pear gastrique – $13
They also have some good looking salads, and a Nickel City Cheese & Charcuterie board. Some of the other pizzas include a margarita, housemade sausage, roasted garlic and tomato, and pierogi.
For dessert, not that anyone was still hungry, we ordered the housemade donuts with a thick, rich chocolate sauce and cheesecake. All good. The donuts could feed two or more.
Unfortunately Vera is not open for lunch, but they do dinner six days a week. Go! Now! After reviewing the items we missed I’m thinking of returning tonight. I really wanted that Pork Belly, and a redo on the Warm Duck and Pork Terrine is a very definite possibility. Be forewarned- they change their menus often.
220 Lexington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14202
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