It all started when founder Dominic Santasiero, who emigrated from a small town in the foothills of Naples, opened up a small pub on Niagara Street. Now, 90 years later, the restaurant continues to cook many of the authentic Neapolitan dishes it did back then. Spaghetti and Meatballs, Stuffed Shells, Sausage and Meatball Sandwiches, and sauce-to-go, by the pint or quart, are the mainstays.

As Dominic’s four sons became involved in the business, there were some rocky times. “During the depression, when people didn't have the money to go out for a meal, they had a special—‘Free spaghetti with a nickel beer’,” says great grandson, John Brands, Jr., who operates the restaurant for his mother, Phyllis Brands.

One look at the heaping plates of food coming from the kitchen, and you can guess which one is their specialty. It is, without a doubt, pasta e fagioli, or as the menu board calls it, “Pasta Fasoola.” An old-fashioned, old-world, macaroni and bean soup, every restaurant has its own variation, but Santasiero’s is the hands-down favorite of Western New Yorkers.

For a change of pace, (though it’s hard to pass up the Pasta Fasoola) there is Macaroni and Lentils or Macaroni and Peas, true Italian peasant fare, and rarely offered in today’s trendy, upscale restaurants.

Another signature dish is Eggplant Parmigiana, which as well as the entire menu, is made from scratch daily. New entrées occasionally find their way onto the menu. One of John’s creations is Pasta Santanesca, a variation of the classic Pasta Putanesca, but without the anchovies. Not as pungent, but still quite piquant, the sauce is a blend of garlic, oil, onions, basil, black olives, and fresh tomatoes, which is served over penne pasta.

Though the restaurant has 2 separate dining rooms, the front bar/dining room, complete with TV noise and the bustle of waitresses in and out of the kitchen, has an old-fashioned, neighborhood ambiance. The wall behind the bar displays a collage of vintage family portraits, along with signed photos of many of the celebrities who have made their way to Santasiero’s through the years. Many local and national celebrities are regular customers. So too, are many of the local sports stars from the Sabres, the Bills, and many of the visiting teams who come to Buffalo.

Their ongoing success for nearly a century seems no surprise to most people, including the Santasiero family. “It’s very simple,” “Good food at good prices.”

 

 
 
Copyright © 2011 Santasiero’s Restaurant | 1329 Niagara St. Buffalo, NY 14213 | Phone: (716) 886-9197
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