Naked City Tavern
Truffle Eggs – Scrambled Duck Eggs, Basil Oil, Shaved Black Italian Summer Truffles, Crème Fraiche, Opal Basil
Chicken n’ Waffles – Buttermilk Waffles stacked with Crispy Chicken Confit, Sunny Side Farm Egg, Bourbon Maple Syrup
Lobster Pasta – Spinach Pappardelle, North Atlantic Lobster Tail, Mushroom Butter Cream Sauce, Wild Mushrooms, Shaved Black Italian Summer Truffles
Goat ‘Osso Buco’ – Candele Pasta, Whipped Butter, Tomatoes, Parmesan
Bakery Style White Pie – Mozzarella, Pesto, Ricotta, Purple Basil
Crispy Calamari – Buttermilk Soaked, Cherry Peppers, mixed Radish Greens, Lemon Zest, Pappadew Crema
Basil Milk Gelato – Sweet Tomato, Crispy Basil, Balsamic Syrup
Consistently tempted by Tweets, Instagram photos and Facebook posts of Chef Christopher Palmeri’s most recent inspirations it was with two local business owners that early-Saturday lunch was enjoyed at Naked City Tavern, the space slowly developing its personality by way of a Buffalo Bills mural in the Game Room while the items rolling out from the kitchen continue to speak of a skilled hand and boundless imagination.
Now approaching two months in and deservedly earning accolades from nearby residents as well as writers for the Naked City Pizza classics as well as a Chef’s Menu offering everything from Truffles to Foie Gras, it was with old Black Sabbath playing that our group found seats in the raised room separated from gaming and big-screen televisions, a pair of small monitors tuned to an SEC matchup though the sound was turned off.
Greeted by a smiling Chef Palmeri after the server presented laminated menus and poured drinks, more big news on the way for a man whose hard work has reaped just rewards, it was after a brief chat that the offer was made to cook carte blanche for the table, a total of seven dishes again showing the sort of food one would never expect in a 24/7 gaming establishment.
Discussing everything from Pizza to Travel in eager anticipation of what the Chef would send out, course one featured fluffy Duck Eggs tinged in Basil beneath a dollop of Crème Fraiche and a shower of Summer Truffles, the concept as bold and nuanced as anything from the brunch menu at Bardot or Bouchon with a follow-up of Chicken n’ Waffles that could easily draw similar comparison, the crispy Chicken every bit as rich as the Duck on the Hunter’s Waffle at the former while the price rings in at less than half of Thomas Keller’s despite being just as good.
Turning attention next to handmade pastas, both the Spinach ribbons and long tubes beneath piquant stewed Goat cooked to a springy al dente amidst plenty of sauce, one would be challenged to find a Lobster Pasta of this caliber anywhere in America for less than twenty dollars, let alone one dialed up with a Wild Mushroom Ragu and a light shaving of Truffles imported by a longtime friend of the chef located just down the road.
Competing in a Pizza completion just one week later, and thus taking the opportunity to get some feedback on the structure of the crust and toppings in consideration, a White Pie offered bold house Pesto beneath mounds of melting Ricotta, the crust perhaps a bit low on Salt if one were to quibble, while the follow-up of Calamari offered no lack of flavor with a Buttermilk undertone amidst the heat of Peppers and Cream dialed up with Pappadew.
Still lighter on desserts than one would hope, the Dutch Baby gone from the Late Night and Breakfast menu though Nutella French Toast remains, Basil Gelato from Art of Flavors was beautifully paired to reduced Balsamic and fried Basil in a sort of Caprese Sundae that reminisced of the Tomato and Summer Vegetable Soup at Michelin-starred Il Ridotto in Venice.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Still lacking a bit in décor, Chef Palmeri promising that this is next on the ‘to-do’ list, Naked City Tavern continues to swing for the fences with food that defies any notion of 24/7 dining, the Chef’s Menu slowly catching on as the clientele reveals itself with even more exciting changes upcoming.
RECOMMENDED: Truffle Eggs, Lobster Pasta, Chicken n’ Waffles, Crispy Calamari.
AVOID: The Pizza was an off-menu work in progress and currently not available in that form.
TIP: Those looking to catch anything other than Buffalo Bills games should be aware that Naked City Tavern currently does not offer game volume, instead going with an in-house soundtrack occasionally punctuated by TouchTunes.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.