CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Stuffed banana peppers are a Western New York specialty, and Western New Yorkers have voted to say the stuffed banana peppers at Bobby J's Italian American Grille are extra special.
"It's really truly an honor," said Bobby J's co-owner Bob Desiderio about his restaurant's Buffalo's Best win. "I have to thank everyone from all over Western New York who voted for us!"
Those loyal customers keep demand high for the signature stuffed banana peppers.
On a typical Friday or Saturday, Bobby J's serves up hundreds of them each night.
And work starts as early as 6 a.m. to prep all the peppers and make sure everything that ends up out in the dining room truly is Buffalo's Best.
"It's something that we have to do every day to keep them fresh, and there's always something to do here in the kitchen at Bobby J's," said Jason Desiderio, Bob's nephew who serves in the retaurant as a chef, bartender, and server.
With an assembly line set up in the kitchen, chopping, cleaning, and filling, the Bobby J's crew churns out cases of stuffed banana peppers that are cheesy, creamy, and delicious.
They're made with locally-made ricotta and several imported cheeses, plus bread crumbs, fresh basil, and garlic, cooked up to order in piping hot extra virgin olive oil and served with blistered grape tomatos and crusty Tuscan bread.
The banana pepper itself is grown on a local farm. The Desiderios describe them as "semi-hot".
"Mother Nature plays games with them once in a while. Sometimes they can be a little bit hotter than other times," pointed out Bob Desiderio.
"I like spicy food," Jason Desiderio added. "So I mean once in a while they get pretty hot and when you put the roasted garlic on and the fresh Italian bread, it's like a match made in heaven."
The recipe has been handed down through the Desiderio family.
Bob Desiderio owns the restaurant with his brother Jay. Their sons Rob, Tom, and Jason are all chefs.
And their commitment to family and fresh Italian cooking shine through for Bobby J's guests who can't get enough of Buffalo's Best stuffed banana peppers.
News 4's Katie Alexander was at Bobby J's Friday morning to see what makes the stuffed banana peppers so special. Watch our coverage below: