For authentic Buffalo wings, the secret isn't, 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 out various combinations of spices, Griffin said that the key to authentic wings is really about letting them sit long enough in the fryer.
"We cook them longer so they're crispier," he said.
The Buffalo, N.Y., 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 its doors in 1983, don't cook their wings long enough.
"They don't come out crispy like you would get them back in Buffalo," he said.
He opened St. Angelo's in 1981, two years before the first Hooters appeared in Clearwater, and said he used to have to give wings away because no one knew what to do with them.
He remembers having to ask the Publix bakery to make the kummelweck buns (see more on the kummelweck sandwich at right) the way he wanted, and asking friends to bring cases of hot dogs in their luggage when returning from trips up north.
Griffin himself is a true Buffalonian. St. Angelo's interior is peppered with the Buffalo Bills logo, and for years Griffin streamed the team's football games at the restaurant. Its slogan is "Where the Buffalonians Roam." Along with pizzas and wings, Griffin serves traditional western New York fare like beef on weck ("wick"), which is "basically like a French dip" on a sandwich, with roast beef soaked in au jus inside a kummelweck bun; Sahlen's hot dogs, which are cooked over charcoal as opposed to 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 drive to St. Angelo's for specifically. He has had customers from all over the bay area. The restaurant, he said, is a hit with the snowbirds.
Kevin Alessi moved down from Buffalo in 1983 and has been going to St. Angelo's for at least 25 years, at one point driving over from Tampa.
"They make the best wing around that I've found," he said. "He just knows it."
Alessi said it's the crispiness that sets St. Angelo's chicken wings, and authentic Buffalo wings in general, apart.
"Eating wings (in Buffalo) is like eating wings here," he said.
Contact Carlynn Crosby at [email protected].