For its Sunday buffet, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Dish Famous Stuffed Pizza (846 South 291 Highway, Liberty ) lays out an assortment of thin-crust pizza for the very reasonable price of $9.29 for adults and $4.99 for children 12 and under. There's also a nimble-fingered cook named Caleb juggling four little frying pans at a station set up for made-to-order omelets and any number of variations on the pasta theme. You want a pesto linguini with Alfredo sauce and fresh tomatoes to go along with your ham, cheese, and onion omelet? Just ask, and they'll both be ready by the time you fill your plate with stuff from the buffet line -- spongy, lukewarm pancakes and soggy French toast, prefabricated Danish pastries, chewy roasted potatoes, and wedges of fresh melon.
At a load-up-your-plate brunch like this one, the quality of the food matters less than the quantity. The made-to-order dishes are great, and so are the flaky biscuits topped with a cream gravy loaded with good Italian sausage. The bacon also is nice and crisp, and while those little pancakes may have been sitting on the steam table for a bit, just slather them with a dollop of warm stewed cinnamon apples or blueberry sauce, and a lot of culinary sins are forgiven.
Still, the narrow vat of already prepared pasta (penne baked under a blanket of cheese and tomato sauce) was globby and unappetizing, and the dessert selection (a fluffy cheesecake with a fresh-tasting strawberry sauce; fruit pies; and little squares of chocolate, pecan, and fruit pastries) couldn't tempt me into submission. My friends disagreed with me, though, and loaded up their plates with lots of the sweets and gobbled them down, sighing, "La dolce vita."
The desserts (including chocolate mousse) are much better at the Italian brunch served each Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Figlio (209 W. 46th Terrace). In fact, everything is much snazzier at this well-laden affair, and yes, you pay a little more for it: $14.95 for adults and $5.95 for kids. Crispy-crust pizza is baked in a wood-burning oven, and the chef makes pasta dishes and fritattas to order. There's a wonderful salad display, with antipasto items (ham, salami, and good cheeses) alongside the fresh green stuff, the freshly baked sticky buns, and the best hot, yeasty breadsticks in town. It's a more glamorous brunch, but when you're at the Plaza, you should eat as the Romans eat.
A few blocks west, however, there's only cold pizza (but a hot vegetable lasagna) at the Sunday "Bountiful Brunch Buffet" from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tomfooleries Restaurant & Bar (612 W. 47th Street.). Tomfooleries takes a United Nations approach to its cuisine: The buffet includes huevos rancheros, French baguettes, English muffins, German potato pancakes, and sweet-and-sour chicken. The price is $13.95 for adults and $6.95 for children, payable in all-American currency.