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Truly dedicated eaters are always on the look-out for new sources of dining intelligence. There are members of the species who think little of questioning friends - and even strangers - with the tenacity of an insurance salesman who suspects there may be gaps in your catastrophic coverage.

For those in the Buffalo area, University at Buffalo computer science professor William Rapaport has contributed mightily to the cause. His restaurant guide at is a homegrown wonder, compiling the dining impressions of Rapaport and dozens of dedicated contributors in an easy-to-search format.

The guide had its genesis on paper, as a hand-out for a 1988 computer science conference held at the university. Translated to the Web, it has been updated more or less annually, adding additional restaurants, additional voices, and updates on previously visited places.

The News' restaurant reviewer Janice Okun's highest recommendations are noted as a matter of course, but otherwise places that make the guide have usually pleased or disappointed one of Rapaport's correspondents. Some of the more popular places have four or more correspondents weighing in, while many have only one or two notes.

Since its hundreds of listings, including selections from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., to Lockport and St. Catharines, Ont., represent only a fraction of the restaurants in the area, Rapaport's warning, presented in bold print, is well taken: "You should not construe absence from this list as a negative evaluation."

That said, the listings are a breeze to navigate. Rapaport has organized them so they can be browsed by town or area of town, alphabetically, by cuisine, and even outdoor dining in the summer.

What's the best Chinese restaurant in Amherst? That might be up to individual palates to decide. But whatever the outcome, this site promises to give diners on a mission plenty of ammunition to fight their own battles.

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