Port Chester’s Arrosto, Heavy Metal Homemaking, Holiday Parties, and Arrosto’s Fluke Crudo
Arrosto Is Open and Sincerely Flatters
Shaved potato, truffle cream, radicchio, and guanciale pizza at Port Chester’s new Arrosto
Hey, kids—does this sound familiar? It’s a huge, Port Chester restaurant serving pan-Italian cuisine, with an extensive, mostly Italian wine list organized by region. It’s got a devotion to wood-fired pizzas topped with ingredients like wild mushrooms, clams, salumi, and Taleggio, but the restaurant that I’m thinking of also stresses antipasti for sharing in glorious array. There is, of course, house-made pasta, plus, democratic, all-pleasing mains, like steaks, chops, and roast chicken for diners whose meals don’t exist without them. Oh, and this restaurant also has a roomy, eat-in bar, and plans an outdoor space for when the weather is milder. Any guesses?
Comparisons between Arrosto and Tarry Lodge are inevitable, but there are key differences between these restaurants. At 300 seats (including sidewalk tables), Arrosto is roughly 30 percent larger than Tarry Lodge. And with its stress on “large-format” entrees—like an 80-ounce, aged, bone-in rib eye for $96, but meant to feed three to four people—Arrosto diverges (slightly) from TL’s concept. Though, to be historical, when I spoke with TL’s co-owner Joe Bastianich in 2008, he said of TL’s menu, “It’s a classic trattoria menu, so antipasti, primi, secondi, a little bit of everything. Some of the proteins may be more large portions, so steak for two, pork chops for two, whole roasted chicken for two—kind of lending itself to some more family-style stuff.” Looks like someone was listening.
Arrosto’s huckleberry crostada with brown butter anglaise
Like Tarry Lodge two years before it, Arrosto is the brainchild of a Manhattan-based restaurateur. In this case, it’s Godfrey Polistina of ‘Cesca, Virgil’s BBQ, Carmine’s, and Ouest (though Polistina is no longer involved in the last three). Originally, ex-Cru and Felidia– (that’s Lidia Bastianich) alum Chef Shea Gallante was slated to accompany Polistina to PoCho, but Gallante bailed rather abruptly after advance press to head up Manhattan’s Ciano, to wild acclaim. Last we checked, Gallante is still consulting at Arrosto and its menu feels like his brainchild. Since this was originally posted on 11/29, I was contacted by Arrosto. Their PR pointed out that Arrosto’s kitchen has been headed by Chef Richard Corbo since October. Arrosto’s current menu reflects a collaboration between Pollistina and Corbo, though the menu’s basic format was set by the time Gallante did pre-opening press.
Visiting last week, we were stunned by Arrosto’s size. While Tarry Lodge’s 200-ish diners are spread over two floors, Arrosto’s one floor seems an endless ranch house of dining areas. Its central feature—a large, wood-burning oven and grill—draws eyes from almost everywhere, but it’s also a busy cooking station for pizzas and weighty, wood-roasted mains. The bustling bar offers a quincunx of high-top tables, perfect for eating at while perched on long-legged stools, while a cozier, wood-paneled back dining room sports a warm, flickering fireplace. Appropriately, given all the visible flame, “arrosto” means “roast” in Italian.
It’s too soon for a critical review—we visited Arrosto when it had been open for only two weeks—but we tasted some dishes that piqued our interest, like fluke crudo with pomegranate and mint (that only missed perfection by a few lacking grains of salt). Pasta is resolutely house-made, and is served in $12 to $16 (“a little”) or $28 to $38 (“a lot”) portions (serving one vs. three or four people). “A little” casarecce (Italian for “homemade”) pasta was ideally textured, though we weren’t wild about its cheesy dressing of gigante beans and feathery duck confit. Wood-fired pizzas are the big story here, and, like Tarry Lodge, offer great value at $12 to $16 per pie.
Of Arrosto’s pizza, we like the crust’s tender fluffiness, and its smoky, woody char. Our shaved potato, truffle cream, and guanciale pizza was nicely highlighted by bitter radicchio, and we’re hoping to hit the round of lardo, chili flakes, pomodoro, and Pecorino Romano on the next trip. Sadly, it was impossible to sample every category of this vast menu in one meal, so we left grilled, sautéed, and roasted secondi for another visit. We have our eyes on that Godzillian three-pound lobster with vanilla brown butter, and those sweetbreads with fennel and garlic.
Arrosto’s 22 by-the-glass wines are additionally offered in 500-ml carafes and by the bottle. These bottles are attractively priced in the $26 to $65 range, with a huge list of strictly bottle wines running up to $125. Yet, it’s easy to drink well and frugally at Arrosto, with many labels in that cheap $30 to $40/bottle range. (Though, funny … no Bastianich Tocai Friuliano here). Also, if you can manage to cram in another calorie, don’t miss huckleberry crostada with brown butter anglaise or Nutella budino with salted hazelnut-caramel crunch and marshmallow brûlée. Mmmm (with just a touch of ooof).
It’s the Goddamn Holidays, Already!
Wake up, people! You’ve only got a few weeks to get it together—and that means shopping, cooking, and booking your favorite holiday parties (and, if you’re me, putting up storm windows). I’m thinking, since I’m already running out of time, screw it: I’m blowing my $$$ at open bars.
Xaviar’s Christmas Dinner and Holiday Cabaret at X20
You’ve heard about this notorious event; now it’s time to attend. From the announcement, “The evening will begin at 7:00pm with passed hors d’oeuvres, eggnog, and cocktails followed by a four-course, sit-down dinner. After dinner, guests will be entertained by Ned Kelly, who will present a Holiday Cabaret performance We Need a Little Christmas… Now! The evening’s entertainment will be completed with the traditional, spirited, and rousing Twelve Days of Christmas performed by all the guests. Once again, Ned will be joined by Mary Lou Shriber and his brother, Paul Kelly, andat the piano, Paul Trueblood.” For reservations, please call X2O at (914) 965-1111.
Christmas Eve at Le Chateau
Celebrate the season in (robber) baronial splendor, with Le Chateu’s glorious architecture draped in holiday décor. Look for high-toned, Frenchified dishes to match the digs, like quail and foie gras sausage with cranberry relish.
Sure, you could bail at 10pm, right after this $55, three-course, prix-fixe dinner—or you could go all in for the 10pm to 2am slot, $110 open bar, buffet, and party favors.
Get that black-wearing, VH1 addict off the sofa and into the kitchen. Check out Steve Seabury’s Mosh Potatoes: Recipes, Anecdotes and Mayhem from the Heavyweights of Heavy Metal , which offers recipes like Scott Rockenfield’s (of Queensrÿche) decidedly un-evil sounding tuna Niçoise salad. One quibble: Why no medieval church-smoked Norwegian salmon from black metal rocker, Varg Vikernes?
Fluke with Pomegranate and Mint at Arrosto
Fluke—one of those flounder-like flat fishes whose eyes migrate to one side of its nasty, flat-fish face—might be icky to look at (and unsustainably fished, to boot), but it’s beyond delicious to eat. Here, at Port Chester’s brand-new Arrosto, it’s served raw in all its glory. Smooth, cool, and silky, with just a drizzle of olive oil, it’s joined by a whisper of mint and perky pomegranate seeds.