Niagara Falls, New York: Fortuna’s
Southern Italian fare is the focus of this 75-year-old Niagara Falls fixture, owned and operated by three generations of the Fortuna family. Expect bright salads, fresh seafood and a mix-and-match menu of sauces (15!) and homemade pastas. Veal is also a specialty, served alla parmigiana, picatta, cacciatore, alla Francesca and more.
The hardest decision you’ll have to make at Michael’s is which pasta to have the chefs smother in the Capizzi family’s famous meat sauce. Dessert’s a no-brainer, though — order the fried dough, which comes dusted in confectioner’s sugar. Other standouts that draw the local crowds: beans-and-greens soup, fried ravioli and a chef’s salad with rolled mozzarella.
Niagara Falls, New York: La Hacienda Ristorante and Pizzeria
Located in the heart of Niagara Falls’ Little Italy, La Hacienda is a go-to for New York style pizza. And homemade ravioli. And beans-and-greens soup. And meatball sandwiches. And veal Milanese. Basically: They’ve got it covered.
You’ll find this family-owned restaurant tucked inside an old house on Center Street in historic Lewiston. And you’ll certainly feel right at home inside: father-son duo Jack and Calogero Soldano, along with their families, will make sure of that. If it’s nice out, be sure to snag a seat on the patio and enjoy a menu of Northern and Southern Italian specialties: gnocchi al pesto, osso bucco, Sicilian carbonara and the like. Pizza-lovers won’t be disappointed, either.
Grab a table at this Lockport eatery on any given night and you’ll likely meet three generations of the Molinaro family: owners Michael and Sarah; sons Rocco and Matteo; Michael’s parents Antoinette and Michael; various sisters and brothers and cousins, too. They’ve all put their stamp on the exhaustive menu, which features Nonna Molinaro’s trademark spaghetti and meatballs, as well as scampis, alfredos, parmigianas, pizzas, Italian subs, stromboli and more.
North Tonawanda: Frankie Primo’s +39
Wondering what the “+39” is all about? It’s the country code you’d dial up if you were trying to reach, say, your Sicilian or Neapolitan kin. Jay Manno has both Sicilian and Neapolitan roots, but he was born and reared in North Tonawanda, which made the Niagara County town a good fit for the second outpost of his Buffalo bistro. Expect decadent twists on classics, like pappardelle with pork slow braised in chianti, or tortellini with roasted portobello, fontina cream and chargrilled ribeye.