Boniello’s: A Neighborly Italian Restaurant with DIY Charm
In a small strip mall across from Sunoco on Hamburg Turnpike is an Italian restaurant you might’ve missed. It’s called Boniello’s.
I visited Boniello’s for the first time a year or so ago, encouraged by a neighbor’s recommendation. From entrees to pizza, interior updates and more, Boniello’s holds their own as a local, neighborhood restaurant.
The Restaurant’s Interior
You enter the room facing the tan walls. Wooden boxes turned into shelves hold picture frames, mugs, and fake flowers. A windowpane has the specials written on it in white cursive.
Thick, metal signs reading “Eat” and “Wine” hang among the decorations. Boniello’s signature wine-cork border runs the length of the narrow room. Each cork is signed and dated by a customer.
We sit in the last two-top table in the middle of the room. To my right is a wall that is decorated with 2x4s stacked to make a pattern. The top half of the wall has vintage window panes in faded farmhouse colors. The other wall is half grey bricks, and half reclaimed wood with engraved logos.
There are 12 tables in even rows going down the length of the room, and one row in the center. The tables and chairs are dark wood and seat 2-4 people.
Each table has a cigar box filled with salt and pepper shakers, a fake floral arrangement, sugar, and a picture-book. There are pictures of (what I presume to be) events catered by Boniello’s, customers, the owners and their family, and more.
There are two tables for larger parties by the front windows. The counter, kitchen, and pizza ovens are all the way at the back of the restaurant.
Boniello’s stores their menus in an old wooden dresser turned hostess stand. The menu is two-sided and laminated. The front of the menu features appetizers, salads, and soups, while the back is pasta dishes, pizza, and seafood.
There is also a small menu of specials. The piña colada shrimp is always listed on the specials menu. I’ve had it before and would recommend trying it!
I have been to Boniello’s several times, so I’ve had the opportunity of trying a variety of appetizers (plus repeats of my favorites!)
Fried Calamari | $10
Authentic and hand-breaded calamari usually include the pieces that have the tentacles. Boniello’s calamari has both the circular pieces and the tentacles (as of the last time I had it).
It is seasoned well, cooked quickly (as not to retain the oil), and is served with a side of their sweet, red sauce. This is also a fairly large portion (compared to some restaurants that I’ve tried), so it is a good appetizer to share.
Stuffed Clams | $7.50
When I first saw stuffed clams on Boniello’s menu, I knew I had to try them. Thus far, my dad’s recipe for stuffed clams has set my expectations when ordering this dish. But I wanted to see how Boniello’s approached this recipe.
I’ve ordered the stuffed clams several times now, and Boniello’s has been consistent with their ingredients and recipe.
Their stuffed clams have chopped clams, red and green peppers, and onions bound together with (what I think) is a flour-cheese mixture.
Compared to my family recipe, these stuffed clams don’t have the traditional, bread-crumby textures. Boniello’s is smoother and cheesy.
While it is different than the stuffed clams I’m used to, these clams are large — and good to share among two people.
Jodi’s Grilled Peach Salad | $12.00
It was out of my usual repertoire to order this grilled peach salad. If I ever order a salad it usually contains arugula.
This salad had peaches, mozzarella, and candied walnuts over lettuce, with a house balsamic. The candied walnuts were my favorite, though this salad had every texture and flavor you could want.
I also appreciate that Boniello’s takes the time to make their own croutons.
Pumpkin Soup | $5.00
In case you don’t know, I adore fall. It’s my favorite time of year and pumpkin is one of the main flavors I look forward to.
My recent visit to Boniello’s featured a pumpkin soup on their specials menu.
The soup came out in a large crock. It was a smooth texture, and delicious, though not really pumpkin….I’m not sure if I received the wrong soup (though, there were no other orange-based soups on the menu), or if my expectations were a little skewed.
This soup tasted like cheddar-potato, which is lovely and perfect for fall. But I expected this soup to taste more like the cinnamon-squash and pumpkin soup that pops up around this time of year.
My soup came with an adorable copper bread basket, which I used for dipping. This soup is rich (and probably has some cream in it), so I ate half and wrapped the rest.
Pizza Creation | $20—
Of course, I had to try Boniello’s pizza.
The pizza I ordered was one of our family’s creations. Essentially, it’s a plain pizza pie, mostly topped with sauce, with dollops of fresh mozzarella and sweet basil. No sliced tomato, no crushed tomatoes, not coating the entire pizza in cheese, just this.
It’s nice that the pizza-maker actually listened to our order and made a delicious pie. Boniello’s served exactly what we asked for.
Their pizza crust is awesome — fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. I also love Boniello’s sauce. The mozzarella (you can see) is fresh and creamy, and they were generous with the fresh basil.
Pasta Tartufo | $15.00
This is one of my favorite dishes: angel hair pasta with vodka sauce, peas, mushrooms, and prosciutto.
The pasta portions at Boniello’s are insane. I had enough leftovers for lunch the next day.
The prosciutto provided the saltiness to the creamy vodka sauce. The mushrooms added an earthy flavor while the peas were a fresh texture to the dish.
A side of garlic bread for dipping was perfect with the flavors in this dish. Boniello’s also lets you tailor these pasta dishes with what you want. My family has ordered different pasta dishes and added shrimp, breaded chicken, or veal for additional flavor.
Blackened Tuna Steak (Special) | $24
When I read Boniello’s specials menu, their fish entrees stood out to me. However, since I ordered stuffed clams as an appetizer I didn’t want a clam-based entree too. The other entree was shrimp and artichokes in white wine sauce, but I could make that at home.
What was left, was the blackened tuna steak.
Now, I have a variety of thoughts about this. First, that sometimes “blackened” seasonings are too peppery/spicy for me. The second, is that I wasn’t sure if I would really be blown away by a tuna-centric entree.
But, the waitress clarified that their blackened seasonings are not spicy. She also explained my sauce options — white wine or horseradish — and that if I wanted a thicker sauce, to order the horseradish. So I decided to try it.
It was shocking how delicious those vegetables were. I think they might’ve been steamed and then sauteed in the garlic and seasonings. There was zucchini, green beans, and carrots. The rice was simple and light mixed into peas.
The tuna steak was literally that. Steak. Tuna’s not the type of fish, like flounder, that pulls apart in layers, you actually had to cut the tuna. It was dense.
On its own, the blackened seasonings were not overwhelming (thank god). Without the sauce, the tuna needed salt (which I hardly ever use). However, dipping it in that creamy horseradish sauce provided all the seasoning you needed.
I personally don’t really like horseradish as a flavor. But this sauce was great because the horseradish was subtle and mellow. The main sauce flavor seems to be a type of cream, and the note at the end was a bit of the horseradish. I’m glad I picked this sauce instead of the white wine. The consistency was good for dipping.
Overall the dish was light, and I nearly finished it, except I wanted room for dessert so I had it wrapped.
I forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu. But most of the desserts were $4.50-$8. The dessert menu offered cupcakes, cheesecake, mousse cakes, cannoli, etc.
Zeppoles are one of my favorite desserts. Hot from the fryer and coated in powdered sugar, they are delicious. You can order 6 or 12.
Boniello’s knows how to plate their desserts.
The tartufo is chocolate and vanilla ice cream coated in a chocolate shell. Since they cut the ball into pieces it’s a good dessert to share with a group.
The Community Spot
Boniello’s is a popular Italian restaurant no matter what day of the week. From people popping in to pick up a pie, to the line of people who try to grab a table before it fills up. Locals will enjoy the charming updates Boniello’s has made to their decor, while savoring the homey Italian recipes.