By Danielle Farrell, Sarina Deacon and Christine Basile
Winters in Niagara Falls are infamous for their bitter temperatures and relentless snow. To avoid the biting cold, locals and tourists alike seek solace in one of the many restaurants offered throughout the city. Recently, two others and myself found our escape from the elements at The Pizza Bistro at 507 3rd St. in downtown Niagara Falls. This is a small, authentic brick oven pizzeria owned by Shawn and Bernadette Webber. These two restaurateurs also own the adjacent wine bar, Wine on Third.
The Pizza Bistro is one of those places that is easy to drive past without ever realizing it's there. When a colleague suggested the restaurant, it was strange that having driven down Third Street on many occasions that none of us had never noticed it before. The beige coloring and inconspicuous sign made it difficult to discern the restaurant from the surrounding buildings. Although there is a small back parking lot, street parking is available too. This was fine during lunch on a weekday, but might pose a problem during dinner rushes or on weekends.
Walking through the door you are greeted by an interesting design choice: a set of curtains to walk through. The dining room is small, but not cramped. A few booths line the walls, and several tables are scattered in between. For the lunch time "rush", there was no rush at all. In fact we were the only ones there.
The menu had all the expected categories: appetizers, soups/salads, sandwiches, pasta and, of course, pizza. We decided to start with an appetizer of bruschetta ($9). For a pizza bistro, the presentation was impressive. It looked like an appetizer that would come with a larger price tag. The first few bites were as impressive as the presentation. The sweetness of the balsamic vinegar and tomatoes balanced out the acidity of the onions. After devouring most of the dish however, it became a little less impressive when we found a large piece of plastic right in the center of one piece of bruschetta. The waitress handled the situation quickly and professionally, making sure to apologize and ask what she could do to make it up to us.
The rest of the meal passed without any major incident. There were three lunch specials offered. We ordered the half pesto chicken panini with a garden salad ($8). The salad was full of fresh, crisp vegetables and had a tangy balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It was decent, but nothing to rave about. The sandwich, on the other hand, was perfectly prepared. It was filled with grilled chicken, roasted peppers, Asiago cheese and pesto mayonnaise.
We also ordered two half pizzas from the lunch menu, which came with the garden salads, as well ($9 each) The first pizza was a bourbon glaze pizza with homemade bourbon white sauce and topped with artichoke hearts, red onion, grilled chicken breast, rendered pork belly and both blue and asiago cheese. The crust had a slight garlic taste to it which was a nice bonus. While it was a decent pizza, it did seem a bit too busy. There was a large variety of toppings, but it probably would have been just as good with half of the ingredients.
The other pizza we got was a margarita pizza with freshly chopped herbs and fresh mozzarella. There was seasoning on the bottom of the crust instead of the common cornmeal. The sauce tasted sweet, and very flavorful. The dollops of mozzarella and sprinkles of basil were well appreciated. Unfortunately, half way through the dish, a hair was found on the pizza. While the pizza was delicious and full of flavor, the entire dish ended on a disappointing note.
After finishing our meals, we decided we still had a bit of room left to try one of the decadent desserts. We decided on the tuxedo cake. It came on a plate with strawberries and blueberries, whipped cream and a bit of vanilla sauce. To our surprise, the chef brought us an extra dessert to apologize for the plastic in our bruschetta. He brought out a salted caramel tart with shortbread crust and fudge. Both desserts were a delicious way to end our meal.
Overall, Pizza Bistro is a budget friendly restaurant with good portions and a seemingly quiet atmosphere. While the group experienced some ameatuer mistakes, this restaurant is bound to improve and continue to please pizza lovers for years to come.
The Pizza Bistro is located at 507 3rd St., Niagara Falls
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars