At Big Hoss Bar-B-Q (see review, page 44), owner and Buffalo native Hoss Orwat does chicken wings – because every restaurant guy who's ever spent time in Buffalo is bound by law and tradition to do chicken wings at his joint, no matter its official cuisine or location. But, being Hoss, he doesn't do the usual chicken wings. These are pit-smoked to start, then finished in the fryer. Also, he sells them by the pound.
Good as such unusual wings can be, sometimes you want the real deal: Anchor Bar/La Nova/Bob & John's-style wings as big as a child's fist and hot enough to burn your mustache hairs. When that mood hit, I used to rely on Luciano's on Broadway, owned by a Buffalo refugee. But last week I found another option: Woody's Wings in Aurora, which I visited on a whim. I should have known from the minute I walked in the door that I was going to be happy here, because as any aficionado of good wings will tell you, a proper wing joint 1) does nothing but wings and sides from the fryer (except for maybe pizza), and 2) has a smell about it that's absolutely unmistakable. It's the stink of hot butter-flavored oil and Frank's RedHot steaming on sizzling chicken -- an astringent and caustic reek powerful enough to lift your chin and make your breath jag. To me, it's the smell of good times and last calls, of frozen winter nights and summer afternoons when I, like most residents of Buffalo, lived on chicken wings and Canadian beer and was happy to do so.
Woody's does wings by the ten-count, in sauces that range from mild (pretty much just butter with a kiss of hot sauce) to hot (which isn't really that hot, but just biting enough to make a cool cup of blue-cheese dressing appropriate) to nuclear (which I haven't tried because I'm not a sadist). The dining room looks like it could have been transported whole from an Elmwood Avenue street corner – it's just a big white box festooned with sports pennants, wobbly tables, an ancient Galaga machine and a couple TVs always showing different sporting events -- and is overseen by the open line at the back, where a crowd of sweating line dogs dunk and shake and sauce and toss all night long. Woody's is counter service only, and it's not exactly quick, since the cooks give each batch of wings a good eighteen minutes in the oil so that they're cooked to the bone and have a nice, crisp skin. But these big, fat wings are worth the wait.
1740 South Buckley Road, Aurora
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