Westchester’s Five Best Dishes in April 2013

Stracciatella soup at Italian Kitchen, Saigon-style pho at Saigonese and other must-try dishes.



Pho, a noodle-laden beef soup at the County’s only Vietnamese restaurant, Saigonese in Hartsdale

photo by James Sexton

1) Stracciatella Soup at Italian Kitchen
We caught this starter on Italian Kitchen’s excellent $19.99 prix-fixe lunch. It was lushly, almost extravagantly, flavored with on-the-bone chicken. At the point when I ate this, I had endured a brutal cold and flu season that included (but was not limited to) bronchitis, flu, stomach flu, and three weeks of a stuffed nose. I suspect this soup helped make it all go away.

2) Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky from Corx Wine & Liquor
This is the small-batch American whiskey that’s setting the world on fire—Balcones even managed to challenge (and win over!) whiskeys from Scotland in a blind UK Scotch tasting. I was drifting through brand-new Corx Wine & Liquor on Mamaroneck Avenue and spotted the hard-to-find Balcones on the shelf. It was expensive ($60-something per bottle), but I don’t regret it: Imagine a liquid form of Toll House cookie dough batter, all vanilla, brown sugar, and butter. When I opened the Balcones bottle, my whole kitchen was perfumed—in fact, I thought I might have accidentally broken my bottle of vanilla extract.

3) Homemade Buffalo Chicken Wings
I really do try to eat responsibly, so I took Michael Pollan’s advice. He said you should only eat junk food that you prepare yourself. These Buffalo chicken wings made a God-awful mess of my kitchen and were shockingly fattening to boot. I don’t think I’ll do it again for a while, but, with these suckers, I went out in a real blaze of glory. Not only were the wings deep-fried, but, afterward they were rolled in melted butter and Frank’s RedHot sauce. Then, they were served with a sour cream/mayo/blue cheese dip and no part of that was “lite.” I couldn’t look myself in the mirror for a whole hour.

4) Saigon-style Pho at Saigonese
Speaking of homemade, I’ve been on a pho bender for the last two years. When I’m not juicing a cubic yard of vegetables every morning, I’m whipping up batches of light, nutritious pho (believe it or not, the critic’s life is hard on the body). As much as I like having my own pho on hand, I’m beyond thrilled that Saigonese opened in Hartsdale simply because its pho Saigon dac biet is miles better than I can do at home. It’s also inexpensive ($9.50) and packed with brisket, rib-eye, meatballs, and tendon with rice noodles, bean sprouts, lime, and basil leaves. This cuts a lot of shopping and time off my day—and, let’s face it, I wasn’t going to get to cooking those beef tendons.

5) P.L.T. at Polpettina
While this sandwich is small, it’s also rich and packed with seriously juicy roasted pork. The National Pork Board was definitely not talking about this particular pig when it suggested that pork is “The Other White Meat.” Believe it or not, the mild porchetta makes a great swap for salty, smoky bacon in Polpettina’s twist on the lunch standard. Beyond the stellar pork, it’s really simple—tomato, arugula, and roasted garlic aioli—and really good.