For better or worse, mostly for better, Buffalo is a town increasingly fascinated by local destination restaurants. Workplace water coolers now regularly warble with talk of the latest restaurant opening, where one can get a culinary riff on this-or-that with a pint of hoppy local beer or a coupe of crafted cocktail.
All of us at Step Out Buffalo are guilty as charged when it comes to participating in this newfound fascination, but we also enjoy a great neighborhood tavern: a place where you can belly up to the bar in jeans and a hoodie and tuck into a sloppy sandwich while the snow flies outside and the latest Buffalo sports loss blares out of a corner TV.
Located next to Delaware Park and across from the zoo, Parkside Meadow is one of those taverns that also serves as a sort of mini museum, replete with both items recovered from the building’s past and collages of Buffalo memorabilia sourced and assembled by the owners.
The Parkside Meadow is the passion project of Nancy Abramo and her husband Len Mattie, who spent three years just renovating the building.
“It took us three years to open, three years to remodel, to gut, to purge,” Abramo recently told Step Out Buffalo, her eyes widening as she spoke. “We were in the basement for one year, the first year; because that’s what you’ve got to do, start from the ground up.”
“It was just amazing, the amount of work” they had to do, she added.
Norman Rockwell didn’t paint bar scenes, but if he did, they might look like the interior of the Parkside Meadow. The memorabilia on the walls and beneath glass table tops might initially draw you to the restaurant, but the dimly-lit coziness will keep you coming back, both in the summer and in the winter.
Situated neatly between North Buffalo and the Elmwood Village, it’s easy to see the restaurant as a family-friendly place where couples can bring their young children to meet up for a pint and some Buffalo staples.
One particular menu staple that any visitor should try, as we did on a recent visit, is the Italian beef. With oozing melted provolone and a medley of pickled vegetables known as giardiniera, the open-faced sandwich smacked of North Buffalo and evoked hazy vino-soaked memories of Italian Heritage festivals past.
As good as the Italian beef was, it paled in comparison to the shaved lamb sandwich. Channeling Mediterranean flavors into a melt-style sandwich you could find in any American diner, the sandwich featured a deeply-satisfying meatiness and melted Havarti cheese – both of which were cut perfectly by mint-garlic aioli. Housemade potato chips, served on the side, provided a crunchy textural balance. The sandwich was sloppy and sophisticated, like an exotic, olive-skinned runway model with ever-so-slightly torn clothes and tousled hair.
The Parkside Meadow also has a healthy selection of local beer, with Pearl Street, Resurgence, Big Ditch, Community Beer Works, and Southern Tier breweries all represented on our visit. While the restaurant doesn’t have a sophisticated cocktail menu, the bar is stocked with many premium bottles. So you can get a Cutty Sark or Grey Goose with your local brew along with Rochester based Balls Vodka and Holy water potato vodka.
This being North Buffalo, there’s also a great wine list that includes bottles from Italy, France, Chile, California, the Finger Lakes, and even Chateau Buffalo at Clinton Market.
The Parkside Meadow is a true North Buffalo gem, and the kind of authentic neighborhood tavern that shouldn’t be forgotten among all the new-fangled eateries that are popping up at breakneck pace. Some particularly good times to check out the restaurant are Wednesdays for half price wings, Thursdays and Fridays for their Fish Fry and Sundays for brunch or the new Sunday dinner menu.
The Parkside Meadow
2 Russell Street, Buffalo, NY 14214
Hours: Monday11:30 am – 11 pm, Tuesday Closed, Wed, Thurs 11:30 am – 11 pm, Fri, Sat 11:30 am – close, Sunday, 11 am – 7pm