By Julia Barth, Features Editor
Located on Transit Road in Williamsville, N.Y. is Neat, a restaurant that has gotten increasingly popular for its great selection of food, specialty cocktails, local beer selections and inviting atmosphere.
Although it is located in a high traffic spot, when one enters the restaurant, they are immediately transported into a world that takes them outside of Buffalo. Most days, it is packed with people, either having a drink at the bar or seated at a booth or table for a meal.
It was a beautiful September day when I went, so we chose to sit at a table outside that was shielded from the blinding sun by an umbrella. Unlike outdoor seating at many other restaurants, the table was large enough for all six of us and the seating was comfortable. The atmosphere of the outdoor area of Neat was energetic but definitely not too crazy. It wasn’t too loud that we couldn’t talk, but there was enough murmur of other people dining or drinking outside that it wasn’t awkward.
The view looking out was a beautiful fountain and mini, man-made lake which added to the ambience of dining there. If you choose to dine at Neat, I would say that eating outside is the way to go, although the aesthetic of the interior was extremely inviting as well.
As for the food and drinks, the beer and cocktail menu is extensive and there are many drink options tailored to customers’ specific likes and dislikes. Looking for a specialty cocktail? Neat has it. Looking for a local beer on draft? Neat has it. Looking for a simple glass of wine? Neat has it all.
The food menu, though, is where Neat really shines. Appetizers are plentiful, and when I went we got corn fritters, hot pepper arancini, wood-fired meatballs and a specialty “Neat” board.
The corn fritters were exceptionally crispy and the taste was carried by the fluffy interior and spicy dipping sauce. Neat was also able to master the hot pepper arancini, which were crispy on the outside and almost creamy on the inside. The rice ball was cooked to perfection and topped with marinara and pesto sauces for dipping. The wood-fired meatballs and “Neat” board were also a favorite among my group, the former being a little dense (but still flavorful) and the latter being a spread of meats, cheeses, olives and baked pitas.
Neat excelled most at options for appetizers with other choices including wood-fired wings, wood-fired cauliflower, stuffed avocado or steamed clams.
Service at Neat was exceptional to say the least, with our server constantly checking in on our food and drinks and making sure everything was up to par.
For dinner, I ordered Neat’s veggie burger with fries which came in a timely manner, right on time with the other food my table ordered. Topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, the burger was a traditional veggie burger, probably made with some sort of Beyond meat; nonetheless, it was still juicy and delicious. The french fries were also traditionally cut but extremely crispy and salty.
As for the other options Neat offers, they have everything from speciality burgers to soups and salads to handhelds to wood-fired pizzas. Their braised short rib soup is award-winning, their burgers all come with two patties each and they have six specialty pizzas ranging from classic cheese and pepperoni to prosciutto and sweet pear.
If you are looking for a bigger entrée, Neat has options like chicken milanese, wood-fired pork chop, wood-fired scallops or balsamic seared salmon.
Along with all of these options for food, Neat also caters towards its customers that are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. Many appetizers are vegetarian, as well as some meals like the veggie burger and wood-fired pizzas, and the restaurant provides gluten-free buns and dough upon request. Neat’s website (www.neatbuffalo.com) is perfectly curated to show viewers its full menu along with vegetarian and gluten free options, and it even has pictures to go along with all of your dishes so one could get a good idea of what to expect in their meal.
Neat is a restaurant that I think not enough people in Buffalo go to or know about, and its atmosphere, service and food all met my standards, making it a place I would definitely visit for dinner with friends or family again and again.
Neat is open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to close, according to their website, and it is located at 5175 Transit Rd. Williamsville, N.Y. 14221.