Scott and I had a very serious conversation the other night about our new digs and the culinary scene of which we are now a part. After our first dinner out in Buffalo, we found ourselves comparing each bite to that of our DC roots, and shaming ourselves for not keeping an open mind about the food scene in WNY. We reconciled that DC is in a league of its own, and in our opinion, one of the greatest food cities in the land. We decided that we would compare, but not dwell on our former experience.
And then we went to Aro Bar de Tapas and that has all changed.
Aro proves that some of the best bites we’ve ever had can be found in a strip mall in a Buffalo suburb. Truth.
A couple weeks ago, we married a trip to Home Depot (renovating appetite) with dinner at this small Spanish tapas restaurant in Amherst, NY, and have been fantasizing about it ever since. Owners Jeremy & Christina Horwitz have given us a taste of DC right in our new backyard. Having spent time eating in DC and traveling throughout Spain, this couple knows good tapas and has an impeccable eye for aesthetic. Behind the scenes, Executive Chef Robert Mahoney is providing Western New York with an experience that we feel could give any of the top restaurants in DC a run for their money.
For starters, this month has been a relatively dry month with all of the moving and chaos. You can imagine our delight when we found ourselves sipping on two delicious Gin & Tonics that rivaled some of our favorites at Estadio in DC. In fact, Aro has the first “gintoneria” in the US, and with almost 30 iterations on the cocktail menu, it’s impossible not to find something to your liking. We will say that the price point seems more on par with DC, but we can’t complain about the quality.
We love tapas, and small plates can be dangerous for a couple like us. The more we try, the more we want, and our experience at Aro was no different. The menu is authentic yet approachable, and even if you have never experienced tapas you will feel comfortable navigating the page. For starters, we suggest a charcuterie board with some of their finest ham and cheese – and definitely order the Ibérico de Bellota touted as the best ham in the world. Don’t forget the olives if you are going for true Spanish flare.
Though everything we tried was wonderful, the Brócoli Frito is the true stuff of dreams. There are few dishes that I would order multiple times at one meal, but the broccoli will have me driving the hour to Aro alone. Order it, and then order it again. And before you move on to more traditional seafood and meat plates, snag an order of the Queso a la Parrilla and the Patatas Bravas.
We love seafood, and both the scallops and the shrimp were solid, but neither could compete with broccoli (read: I’m still thinking about broccoli…). However, they were flavor forward, plated brilliantly, and a lighter alternative on the menu.
Scott’s a meat-lover, and was more than impressed with all of the items from that section of the menu. Standouts include the Dátiles con Tocino (bacon wrapped dates!), Chuleta de Cerdo (pork chop), Lomo de Buey con Romesco (grilled hangar steak) and the Pintxo Moruno (grilled short rib).
However, we would be remiss if we did not mention what has set the bar for future dessert experiences. If you are like I am, and tend not to get dessert on account of needing more savory, please think again. We tried 4 of the 5 (don’t judge) and it is next to impossible to pick a winner. However, after 2 weeks of intense deliberation, it would have to be Ojo del Búfalo (caramel milk chocolate mousse, guanaja brownie, sponge candy, chocolate roche) that warrants first place. But the Flan For The Lovers & Haters, Churros con Caramelo y Chocolate, and the Mel i Mato were all exquisite.
Seldom can I devote this many words now to a date night post, but it’s hard to contain the excitement we felt after our experience at Aro. It’s not a secret either, for as we sat we looked around at a bustling restaurant full of satisfied and satiated people. From the second you walk in until your very last bite, Aro Bar de Tapas delivers and has now set the bar for all future Buffalo Date Nights.