Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Opens Its First New York Theater—in Yonkers
’80s Sing-Along Dance Party at Alamo; Cream Sauce Cravings: Lobster Manicotti at Fiamma Trattoria; Fettuccine Alfredo Pizza
Yonkers, otherwise known as the “sixth borough,” now gets to claim the first New York outpost of Alamo Drafthouse, the Texas-based movie theater that serves food… real food. Dishes are made to order in a full kitchen, many items from scratch using fresh, local ingredients. And there’s booze aplenty: 32 craft beers on tap (many local), fine wine, cocktails, even spiked “adult shakes.” Extra space between rows lets servers fill orders throughout the film.
And are they serious about their film. Six theaters show a handpicked mix of indies, blockbusters, classics, and foreign films on state-of-the-art equipment, with one theater equipped for 35mm. No ads before the movie here—a custom-made preshow instead. And if you talk or text repeatedly, you’re outta there without a refund. Don’t mess with Texas!
So how does this thing work? When you buy tickets, you reserve specific seats. Get there early to explore and place your order. Beer taps are in the lobby behind the ticket counter, and you have the option of ordering a drink there and carrying it in. When you get to your cushy seat, you extract the menu from a lighted alcove under the wood ledge in front of you and write your order on a paper that you prop up on a railing. Servers are on hand to answer questions, and throughout the film they discreetly deliver food.
Alamo has terrific people, but I don't envy them their job. Servers work hunched over, scooting through the empty space in front of you to fill orders up and down the row. If you need anything during the movie, they crouch to read your card in the dim, seat-level light and move on, like medieval ghostly apparitions. Don’t forget to tip these folks.
All that flitting about can be distracting. Ditto for the occasional whispering involved and for dealing with the check during a movie. But service is prompt and considerate, and they'll even bring you a doggie bag at the end. If they don’t have a beer you ordered, they’ll bring you a sample of another (if you want the Texas experience, try the Shiner). Timing is slightly stretched out, in keeping with the movie. And there’s a little room to spread out, but if it gets cramped, you can lean back and be at arm's length from the table. Food is served in deep-dish tins but with real silverware.
So how's the food? Two words: fried pickles. Dill pickle spears with flavorful breading and a mild buttermilk ranch dip, you had me at hello.
No really, how's the food? Well, haute cuisine it ain’t, but it's not supposed to be. Choose from snacks, burgers, salads, pizzas, and desserts, plus kids’ and brunch menus. Bottomless popcorn resembles homemade, down to the big serving bowl and about half the usual butter and salt. The Mexican salad wrap was surprisingly good—imagine, good salad at a movie theater!—with springy pieces of fried tofu and a nicely textured wrap, though it begs for more dressing. Hot wings are average; Hatch green chile queso blanco just misses an Oscar nod by being too salty. Burgers are good, but even better, the fried egg BLT on the brunch menu. My mushroom pizza had a nice mix of cremini, portobello, and oyster mushrooms, caramelized onions, and whole roasted garlic cloves on a house-made doughy crust. They could’ve cut off some of the tougher stems. But hey, we’re still in previews here; the place just opened, and First Tastes are only a test run. Here’s what sounds great: their special movie-themed menus, like an Indian feast paired with Avery beers for The Darjeeling Limited later this month.
The "adult shake" category could’ve been a contender, but they were serving them for the first time that day. My Greenport Black Duck Porter shake, at a whopping 1140 calories, tasted like a Frappuccino with an identity crisis. If you need fortification for The Shining, try some Jameson instead. Or maybe some warm—make that hot—freshly baked peanut butter banana cookies with ice cream on top? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Totally ’80s Sing-Along Dance Party at Alamo Drafthouse
August 23, 10 pm
Remember the "no talking, no texting" policy at Alamo that we discussed above? Well, all bets are off when this movie theater turns into a dance club for its Totally ‘80s Sing-Along Dance Party. VJs will have ’80s music videos blasting on the big screen, singing contests will be had, and brand-new Alamo’s awesome food and drink menu with waiter service will be available throughout. Get up from your seat, party hearty, and come back…or just strike a pose and pretend you’re Madonna. To that end, enjoy your inflatable air guitar and all the other free props you’ll get.
Lobster Manicotti at Fiamma Trattoria
This corner restaurant at the site of a former dive bar will make you feel like you're on Arthur Avenue, and Chef Doug Tucci is doing the classics right. Case in point: lobster manicotti. Maybe it's not the newest dish on the planet, but it's just so freaking good. Inside: plain poached lobster—fresh, generous, cooked perfectly. Outside: swoon-inducing cream sauce with jumbo lump crab, shallots, white wine, plum tomato, basil, and a touch of Pecorino. And mediating all this decadence, spongy homemade crêpes (vs pasta manicotti shells). Oh, did I mention it comes with salad—arugula or mixed greens, with shaved Pecorino? And a ramekin of bruschetta, with a big hunk of warm, crusty bread? Making the $27 price tag for this dish more like the price of a whole meal. But if you're thinking of skipping dessert, don't: the homemade cannoli is the real deal.
Fettuccine Alfredo Pizza at Quaker Ridge Pizza
Pizza with pasta on top has always seemed like gilding the lily (want some carbs with those carbs?). But pizza topped with fettuccine Alfredo? Come to Mama! It must be the creamy sauce, all the better to offset the crust with. Add some grilled chicken and broccoli, and you’ve got yourself a meal. This place also has a Philly cheesesteak pizza with peppers, onions, and slices of American cheese. Both types are available by the slice.