If you haven’t been to Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo in a few years, you may be shocked by the changes.
A number of iconic Elmwood Village businesses have disappeared, including J.P. Bullfeathers and Elmwood Poster Art. While it’s totally okay to mourn the loss of these businesses, it’s hard not to be excited about what’s popped up in their place.
Recently, the space that housed the old Poster Art got a new lease on life with the opening of Zio’s Deli and Heroes. Inspired by iconic delis in New York City, Zio’s is part of the revitalized 1000 block of Elmwood that includes a new craft beer bar The Beer Keep and Jack Rabbit, a live music venue that has sprung up in place of the old Bullfeathers.
Co-owner Annie Doyle recently told us Zio’s is already feeling the love from the other business owners on the block.
“We’re actually really, really pumped to be a part of the 1000 block,” she said. “The coolest part, for sure, has been the support. The other businesses have a lot of big plans that they’ve been making with each other – between Breezy Burrito, Jack Rabbit and Beer Keep – and they’re already including us, which is super cool.
“That’s the beauty of Buffalo. You could open in another city and people might see you as competition or not want anything to do with you. But we immediately felt that community love.”
Zio’s bucks Buffalo expectations in a couple ways. First, you don’t expect a ton of greasy fare, like you might find down the street at Jim’s Steakout or ETS. Yeah, you can get a fried chicken finger or fried eggplant, but the menu goes light on decadent sauces and melted cheese.
Second, ** insert trigger warning emoji** they don’t use the standard Costanzo’s rolls. That’s right. Read it again if you have to. Those coffee-colored rolls from Costanzo’s Bakery are so synonymous with WNY sub shops, it’s a shock to the system when a place like Zio’s doesn’t use them.
Actually, Doyle told us, Zio’s does get rolls from Costanzo’s, just not those rolls. We’re listening…
“When you get a sub with a Costanzo’s roll, it’s that classic roll,” she said. “We wanted to avoid that because we want to be different.
“We were getting our hoagie roll from somewhere in New Jersey, through one of our suppliers,” she added. “But everything is so backordered that we had to find something local that we could get for sure, so we don’t have to wait for shipments. We found out Costanzo’s has a new product line with way different rolls. So now, we are getting our hoagie rolls from them.”
To those triggered by different rolls, Zio’s is still serving meat, cheese and veggies between two hunks of bread. So, it’s still a product that you’re familiar with. Relax.
On my recent visit, I found that like the 1000 block on Elmwood, change is a good thing at Zio’s. My classic Italian assorted hero, called the Vinny ($13), was like a cleaner, Whole Foods version of what you can get at your local WNY deli counter. It featured a zesty Italian dressing that cut through the meat, cheese and bread while complimenting the mortadella.
In addition to cold heroes, there are a number of hot heroes with a big focus on chicken cutlets. There are also classic deli sides and a soup option. Water and soft drinks are the beverage options.
In Buffalo, we talk a lot about rising home prices, rising rents and the g-word. But change can bring variety. Variety is good and Zio’s is Exhibit A.
Opening Hours (subject to change): Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday CLOSED