Coals Fires up Westchester’s Pizza Scene, Countdown to the Best of Westchester Party, Don’t Miss Vintage 1890 Prix Fixe, and Killer Egg on Toast at Nessa



First Taste: Coals in Port Chester

“But is it pizza?” I asked, after a long and thoughtful chew. We were sitting in Port Chester’s newest pizzeria, Coals, a Bronx import that grills its pizzas not over the charcoal alluded to in its name, but over a gas flame. On the table were two large, amoeboid flatbreads whose irregular perimeters looked even more eccentric with their meticulously geometric grids of toppings. Sure, my “Dean Martin” (fontinella, fresh mozzarella, tomato, pepperoni, pecorino) sort of alluded to the classic American pepperoni slice with its dots of sweet, nearly confited tomatoes and wide discs of peppery orange sausage. But, still, there was something in the chew of this crust that reminded me (and this sounds totally nuts) of naan, the Indian flatbread. I’m not ashamed to tell you, folks: It nagged at this pizza obsessive’s soul. I had trouble sleeping.

Turns out that, in its dough, Coals uses a combination of all-purpose, whole-wheat, and corn flours that give its pizzas that haunting, naan-like chew. Also, Coals’s pizzas are cooked on one side, then flipped, strewn with toppings, and allowed to finish cooking. I feel like the chef responsible for this practice is just asking to be shot by the Neapolitan Pizza Police. The whole point of pizza—both American and Neapolitan—is to have textural differences in the strata of dough. In a Neapolitan slice, it’ll be hard where the round hits the rocket-hot oven floor, then fluffy, almost light, in the dough’s interior, which, in turn, will yield to some tasty char on the top crust, where it’s been exposed to 900 degrees of oven air. To cook the dough on both sides from the same heat source is, plain and simple, sacrilege.

But here’s the thing: Once you get over your taxonomic crisis, the Coals’ amoeba is pretty tasty. The folks there stretch their own (admittedly, very firm) mozzarella, which yields a mild milky flavor, and the tomatoes that they reduce and dab onto the pies in tiny pyramids end up tasting sweet and caramelized, as if they’d been oven-roasted. Plus, Coals is a pleasant, haimish {?? Its Yiddish – I think people know what I mean joint. On the orange walls of this deep, narrow storefront, there’s some Bronxiana and several allusions to Rhode Island, which is continued on a beer menu that lists, among delicious craft brews like Sixpoint’s Brown Stone Ale, the characterless Narraganset beer (offhandedly dissed by my husband as “regional PBR”). Coals’ Rhode Island theme hints at the inspiration for its grilled pie, the famous and genuinely charcoal-grilled pizzas served at Providence’s Al Forno restaurant. But, unlike the décor at that more serious restaurant, Coals is quirky, a little campy—basically, it had me at its black velvet Elvis (a Velvis!).

But is it pizza? I still haven’t decided, so I’ll be going back for more. Look for the current opening menu at Coals Port Chester to soon include burgers – currently, it is limited to “pizzas” and salads.

HotFlash: The Best of Westchester Party Is Coming, July 18!

Get out your glad rags because the county’s biggest party is coming—we’re talking 3,000 party people gathered on an island for a summer party that celebrates the best Westchester has to offer. Drinks, dancing, food, scantily clad hotties (of both genders!): Folks, it’s kind of like well-dressed summer bacchanalia with really kick-ass goodie bags. Anyway, those of you who have been to our annual hoedown in the past might not know about some improvements that we’ve made for 2012. First, we’ve accessed Glen Island’s great lawn for parking, which will speed up the causeway traffic and parking delays of yore. (This party is that big.)

Also new for 2012 is our extended VIP ticket, which buys access to the Best of Westchester party at 5:30 rather than at the 7 pm General Admission time. The good news is that the VIP tickets are only slightly more expensive than the General Admission passes ($100 rather than $75); the bad news is that the VIP tickets are very, very limited. For more info, check out our Best of Westchester party site,

Do you want updates, weekly Best of Westchester ticket giveaways, gorgeous prizes, and more? Like_Button_No_Logo Best of Westchester Party on Facebook where a chance at all shall be yours.

Hot Date: Three-Course Prix-Fixe at Vintage 1891

Tuesdays - Fridays, valid through August 2012 (dinner only)
$30.12 per person, excluding beverage tax and tip.

From the invitation:

Back by popular demand!
Vintage 1891 Dinner Prix Fixe
Through June, July, and August on Tuesdays through Fridays,
we will be offering a great price for our three-course menu.
Appetizer
Hummus-Olive Tapenade Crostini
Foie Gras Brûlée, Balsamic Marinated Berries, Lavender
Greek Salad, Romaine, Red Onions, Peppers, Feta Cheese
Main Course
Salmon, Coconut Kaffir Lime Rice Pilaf,
Braised Rainbow Swiss Chard, Lemon-Dill Sauce
Roasted Free-Range Chicken Breast, Puttanesca Sauce,
Spring Vegetable Risotto, Sautéed Kale
Sautéed Sea Scallops, Jalapeño Potato Puree,
Harissa, Tortilla Fries
Dessert
Peach-Strawberry Tart, Vanilla Ice Cream
Lemon Pound Cake, Strawberry Compote, Whipped Cream

For reservations, call: (914) 834-9463 or
email: information@vintage1891.com

HotPlate: The ‘Ino Truffled Egg Toast at Nessa

 

 

 

Oh, I’ve been a sucker for this dish from way back when it was introduced at ‘ino, the tiny Village restaurant that specialized in authentic Italian sandwiches. While Nessa in Port Chester skips ‘ino’s meticulous hollowing out of the bread (to cuddle that salted, runny yolk), it’s still as much of an ooey, gooey ode to an ovum as the iconic original. Slurp.

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