5229 Main St, Williamsville, NY 14221
Web: Trattoria Aroma
Rating: [learn more]
A solid base menu of Italian favorites, ranging from salads to pizzas, pastas to steaks, chops, and seafood, with impressive varying daily menus of entrees and desserts. Consistently good food.
Prices are on the high side and service can be slow; though food is always good, it can waver a bit from visit to visit, dipping on specific dishes and rising to greatness on others.
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Fine Dining Italian Pizza Tuscan Williamsville
"We found the Sicilian lamb to be a true delight; the seafood-stuffed calamari special on one day was quite possibly the best we've ever had, and we've eaten a lot of calamari."
Western New York has no shortage of perpetually busy Italian-American restaurants, and though there are some exceptional places that people are willing to drive out of their way to enjoy, there are very strong others that attract steady crowds with consistently good food and friendly service. Trattoria Aroma on Main Street in Williamsville is in the latter camp, a cozy, dimly lit venue that has yet to serve us a bad meal, and on occasion actually delivers exemplary ones. Though the entrees at Aroma aren't cheap or massive, it's rare to leave feeling disappointed with the quality.
As you munch on a loaf or two of complementary bread drenched in a tasty green pesto, you'll note that Trattoria Aroma's menu is a limited, single-page set of options that are augmented by legitimately special specials. Divided roughly into quarters, the menu consists of appetizers that sell for between $6 and $16, including salads such as the Insalada Griglia ($9), a beautiful balsamic vinegrette-drenched half heart of romaine lettuce covered in parma proscuitto, thin strips of roasted red peppers, chunks of gorgonzola, and pine nuts. Offered as an alternative to a classic Caesar, which isn't on the menu, the Griglia was seriously excellent, deftly mixing small dashes of sweet peppers with little bits of chewy cheese, crunchy, sour-sauced lettuce and soft, slightly salty ham. The $6 Aroma house salad had other members of our most recent group smiling, too, but not as wide as the Griglia.
Similarly, there are flat pizza options selling for $12-$16, and pasta entrees that average $17. We've sampled a wide variety of the pizzas, this time ordering and generally enjoying the $15 Funghi, a thin-crusted mozzarella pizza with caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, fontina and truffle oil; while we've occasionally had better versions elsewhere, and this one's oil level was a little over the top, it contained enough mushrooms and onions to satisfy. Classic pizzas, like the Margherita with mozzarella, basil, and tomato sauce, are also on the menu alongside more adventurous alternatives, and trend in the good and above range.
Aroma consistently offers delicious veal, steak, and chicken entrees, with prices starting at $17 - the chicken - and climbing upwards; a filet mignon or "Filetto di Manzo," for instance, is $25. While all of the items on the regular menu are solid, there's almost always something tantalizing on the smaller daily menu: on our most recent visit, the seafood special was a $25 sea scallop, jumbo prawn, mahi, and baby clam dish with a tomato white wine broth and grilled bread, which we thought was good, not great; the prawns were indeed large and delicious, but few in number, and the scallops ranged from juicy and succulent to slightly dry. Another special, the ribeye steak, was offered in 8 ($16) or 16 ounce ($26) sizes alongside potatoes and vegetables, the smaller size enough to satisfy a member of our group; on a separate occasion, we found the Sicilian lamb (Agnello Siciliano, $25) to be a true delight, surpassing our expectations in taste, though not in size. A plate of seafood-stuffed calamari offered as a special on one day was quite possibly the best we've ever had, and we've eaten a lot of calamari.
Notably, Trattoria Aroma shares space with the previously-reviewed SeaBar, and diners at each restaurant are offered the option - should they request it - to order items from the other's menu. Thus, we've ordered Aroma's desserts at SeaBar and SeaBar's sushi alongside an otherwise Italian meal at Aroma; in our experience, it's smarter to just stick with the food at Aroma, as we paid $10 for a highly overpriced, overly mayonnaised spicy tuna cut roll, for which we were handed a separate check.
The thing that drew us to Aroma as patrons of SeaBar was the former's varying dessert menu, which tends to have quite a few options, and has included such items as brownie-like chocolate cakes, bread puddings, and tiramisus along with lemon sorbetto, biscotti, and the like. We have yet to meet a dessert at Trattoria Aroma that we didn't like, though the tiramisu - recommended by our server - was fine to good on flavor, and mostly satisfying in cool, creamy texture and a fun plating with crosshatches of chocolate sauce. The aforementioned chocolate cakes, bread puddings, and biscottis did more for us.
Aroma's low points aren't trivial. The prices are, perhaps by design, certain to discourage younger, value-conscious diners; its crowd tends to consist of graduate-aged couples and older, better-off patrons who apparently don't mind paying $16 for items such as the Mostaccioli Fume sausage pasta, or $21 for the Manzo d' Alba pasta - slices of beef tenderloin with mushrooms and tomatoes. Between the dim lighting, the prices, and the nice wine selection, this is definitely a good date place, but not the typical Italian family restaurant. Additionally, the service can on occasion be a bit slow, though it's always friendly, and not every night is a great food night here: our most recent visit was inconsistent from diner to diner, all experienced with the place and agreeing that it was deserving of a three-star overall rating, though the meal we had was for some people a little under that mark. Three stars is, in our view, what Trattoria Aroma deserves; there are nights when it's nearly great and nights when it's below-par, but even so, the food is consistently at least good, and the overall experience of dining here similarly pleasant. It's worthy of a visit if you're a fan of Italian and in the neighborhood.