Usually I’m a wine gal, but sometimes I can expand my horizons if it means experiencing a killer restaurant I’ve never been to. Microbreweries have been popping up like crazy around upstate New York, and the entire country too. Over the past few months of living in Buffalo, I have heard a lot of buzz about the success and quality of Big Ditch Brewing Company. I recognized the name from living in Rochester beforehand (Wegmans sells their beer), not knowing they are a Buffalo native.
Exploring their menu a little before arriving, I couldn’t help but gravitate toward the pizzas listed, naturally.
I’m one of those people that prefers going out Friday night versus Saturday night. I love the anticipation built up during the working week that I can’t wait to kick off the weekend on Friday! So once it hit 5:00 pm, I walked from work a few blocks over in downtown Buffalo to Big Ditch. It was nice to explore the city a little further and see sites like Shea’s, The Electric Tower, and Fountain Plaza.
Happy hour was in full swing, parking was filling fast, and the energy in downtown Buffalo was electric. I was meeting my boyfriend and our two best friends at Big Ditch, but arrived a little early. The hostess sat me down at our table in the upper level near one of their various bars so I could peruse the beer list and food menu.
I could wait for food before my company arrived, but I most certainly could not wait for a cold one. In looking at their beer list, I loved that a lot of the beers names were inspired by the Erie Canal, once referred to as the “big ditch”. Clever names like “Low Bridge” and “Excavator” caught my attention. However, I went with one of their signature beers, and probably the most well-known, the Hayburner.
Like I said, I’m no beer drinker, but this was a quality IPA in my opinion. I loved the citrusy blend, especially the hints of grapefruit and melon that I could taste! It was smooth, crisp, and refreshing, plus had some hops towards the end.
Once my boyfriend and our friends arrived, I later tried some of their beers they had ordered and none were as good as the Hayburner. I think the Hayburner could be well-paired with a variety of bar foods, not just pizza.
When everyone had their beers and were settled, we were all eager to get some food on the table! My best friend and I both have a deep relationship with pizza; she’s my soul sister and my slice sister.
We both ordered the Italian market pizza, which has pepperoni, Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, and fresh mozzarella! Our men ordered non-pizza entrees, one being a pork sandwich and the other being meatloaf. Safe to say, there was going to be full stomachs for all!
Something I continue to say about Buffalo, and I’ll gladly say it again, is that I LOVE the food scene here. I know I’m not the only one that thinks this because Buffalo continues to win national recognition and awards for it’s food, restaurants and bars. It makes Buffalo unique. Calling all foodies: You would love it here!
Big Ditch is the perfect example of why there’s national recognition. Located in the heart of downtown, Big Ditch seems to have a relatively renovated building with a modern, yet cozy environment. Features like exposed ceilings, massive windows, wooden accents, and dark walls all contribute to creating a cool, cutting-edge vibe. Without even trying any of the food or beer on tap yet, I knew this place was doing something right when I walked in, just based on it’s look. Kudos to the designer!
We had an awesome spot seated along the balcony of the upper level, so we could oversee the busy tap room below including many tables and the main bar. What was most special about this spot was that we had a higher view of the city and the sunset because the windows go right up to the ceiling!
Also, the production facility is on-site and is connected to the tap room, which is neat for local purposes. In other words, the beer is pretty dang fresh.
ProTip #1: Pair Your Pizza With Alcohol
The beer was doing a great job of filling us, but we were excited to pair it with our pizza. Upon it’s arrival to our table, I couldn’t help but capture this glorious moment of bliss:
(^This picture is the definition of #Blessed)
The first thing I noticed when the pizza came was that we both had banana peppers on them, which wasn’t on the menu. I’m not a big fan of banana peppers, especially on my pizza. However I was hungry, so I still ate it. The banana peppers on a smaller pizza were too dominate of a flavor and took away from the meat. Luckily, the Hayburner came through and helped to get rid of any banana pepper flavor on my palette.
I was happy with the crispy cup-and-char pepperoni (I’ve heard so many names for this kind of pepperoni) and the amount of roasted red peppers I got. The fresh mozzarella was flavorful and abundant, while not too overpowering. The crust didn’t knock us out of the park, but it held up well considering all of the toppings on the pizza, which is always appreciated!
I think my favorite part of this pizza was the size! The taste itself was relatively average for both of us, but the size was perfect. We each worked through about half of our pizza that evening, I had two slices later that night once we were home (always a good idea), and my boyfriend had the last two slices for lunch the next day! A good pizza always has enough for leftovers.
At the end of the day, the champion here was the Hayburner. It was a great beer to pair with this loaded pizza and made the experience as a whole yummy! Pizza + [your preferred choice of alcoholic beverage] usually only makes the night a better one. In thinking about unique places to bring those visiting us in the future, Big Ditch Brewing Company will be top of mind!
Pizza & love,