Having grown up in Brooklyn, it was tough to reconcile ourselves to the signature dishes of Syracuse during our university tenure, which we quickly realized was largely limited to salt potatoes — i.e. salted potatoes. Though when we cast our net a bit wider, we eventually developed a sort of captive fondness for the various regional specialties of Central New York, from Rochester’s white hots to Utica’s chicken riggies.
Save for its branch of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, though (not to mention Delaware & Hudson, which gamely name checks Mid-Atlantic staples such as Saratoga potatoes and scrapple), Brooklyn’s otherwise inclusive dining scene has been even slower than we were to embrace what the rest of the state has to offer. Fortunately, CNY cuisine just got a serious shot in the arm with the opening of Buffalo’s Famous, hell bent on asserting the Golden Snowball champion as more than just a mecca of wings.
Housed in the small Ditmas Park storefront previously inhabited by Nine Chains, the fast-casual eatery is partially owned by local restaurant kingpin Avraham Shuker (Mimi’s, Lea, The Castello Plan), but conceived and operated by a pair of Buffalo natives, Matthew Fortune and John Marren. And while styrofoam-coffined stacks of battered, vinegar- and blue cheese-perfumed chicken wings—available in 5-100 piece increments, ranging from mild to extra-hot—reliably litter their orange counters, it would be a pity to ignore more endurably city-specific offerings.
Take the beef on weck, for instance, boasting tissue-thin ribbons of meat slathered in horseradish, bathed in jus and piled on housemade, salted and caraway-seeded kummelweck rolls; Chiavetta’s chicken, grilled in a proprietary marinade, sourced from a 60-year-old Buffalo catering company; bottles of loganberry pop, enjoyed straight or incorporated into a 40-strong assortment of Perry’s ice cream milkshakes; and most marvelously, garbage plates—in respect to original creator, Nick Tahou Hots, rechristened here as famous plates—an astonishing pile-on of french fries plus macaroni salad or slaw, coronated with one or two proteins; chicken fingers, roast beef, a hamburger, a veggie burger or a split Sahlen’s hot dog, engulfed in finely textured, cinnamon and clove-spiced meat sauce.
On behalf of our Syracuse-born husband (whom, it goes without saying, was the greatest discovery of our upstate exile) we can only hope they consider adding a side of good old salt potatoes.
1111 Church Ave., Ditmas Park
All Photos by Louise Palmberg