For authentic Buffalo wings, the secret is not, as they say, in the sauce.
According to Brian Griffin, owner of St. Angelo’s Pizza and Wings (4051 Madison St., New Port Richey), it’s not even about the sauce at all; he says 90 percent of people use Frank’s RedHot anyway.
While others tend to overcomplicate things by adding lemon or butter or trying various combinations of spices, Griffin said the key to authentic wings is really to let them sit in the deep fryer long enough.
“We cook them longer so that they are crispier,” he said.
The Buffalo, NY native, who moved to Florida in 1981, explained that sports bar giants like Buffalo Wild Wings, Kerr’s Wing House and Hooters, which popularized the Chicken Wing when it opened in 1983, do not cook their wings long enough.
“They don’t come out crisp like you would bring them back to Buffalo,” he said.
He opened St. Angelo’s in 1981, two years before the first Hooters appeared in Clearwater, and said he used to give wings because no one knew what to do with them.
He remembers having had to ask the Publix bakery to bake the kummelweck buns (see more on the kummelweck sandwich on the right) as he wanted, and asking friends to bring cases of hot dogs to their luggage returning from trips to the north.
Griffin himself is a true Buffalonian. The interior of St. Angelo is dotted with the Buffalo Bills logo, and for years Griffin has broadcast the team’s football games in the restaurant. Its slogan is “where the Buffalonians roam”. In addition to pizzas and wings, Griffin serves traditional Western New York fare, like beef on weck (“wick”), which is “essentially like a French dip” on a sandwich, with roast beef dipped in. juice inside a kummelweck bun; Sahlen’s hot dogs, which are cooked over charcoal rather than boiled in water like in Chicago; haddock sandwiches and fish fries; Weber’s mustard; and bottles of Labatt Blue and Genesee beer.
These are Buffalo staples that Griffin said people specifically go to St. Angelo’s for. He had clients from all over the Bay Area. The restaurant, he says, is a hit with snowbirds.
Kevin Alessi moved from Buffalo in 1983 and has been to St. Angelo’s for at least 25 years, at one point driving from Tampa.
“They make the best wing I have found,” he said. “He just knows it.”
Alessi said it’s the crispiness that sets St. Angelo’s chicken wings apart and authentic Buffalo wings in general.
“Eating wings (in Buffalo) is like eating wings here,” he said.
Contact Carlynn Crosby at [email protected].