Refreshing fruit soups, the scoop on our gelato taste test, gluten-free dining, and more.
Your Own Farmers Market
How many benefits are there to buying locally produced organic food? Let us list some of them: (1) no pesticides or antibiotics; (2) fresh produce; (3) happy local farmers (4) good-tasting food. But what if you don¡¯t have an organic food shop near you? Enter mypersonalfarmers.com, a virtual farmers¡¯ market, started by Peekskill residents Tom and Maryanne Hedrick, that delivers natural and organic foods from (mostly) Hudson Valley Farms to any home or office anywhere in Westchester. All you need to do is place an order on the site, pay a $15 delivery charge, and wait from four to perhaps 14 days to get your all-natural strawberry-rhubarb jam or loaf of organic raisin bread.
Worth the wait¡ªand cost? We decided to find out and placed an order on the site. The results? Read on.
Il Gelato Numero Uno
With less butterfat, less air, and a slightly warmer serving temperature, gelato is the delicious Italian counterpart to American-style ice cream. But where to find the best gelato in Westchester? We asked three local chefs to taste samples of hazelnut, pistachio, and strawberry, three of the more popular flavors, from five county gelaterias and restaurants, plus one national brand. Each gelato maker was then rated from 1 (blah) to 10 (delizioso!). The winner? See below.
Some of us can't eat wheat products¡ªthey make us sick. Celiac disease (CD) is a digestive illness caused by gluten-intolerance (gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains). It is estimated that one in every 133 Americans has CD. Among them is Yorktown Heights-based pediatric physical therapist Karen Miller, 26. Going out to eat can be quite difficult, she reports. Marinades, beer, sauces, breadings, broths, dairy products with stabilizers or thickeners they all may have gluten.
What to do? More and more restaurants are offering gluten-free meals, thanks to the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program, a national organization dedicated to increasing the number of restaurants with gluten-free menus. Among them:
The Heights Bistro & Bar (334 Underhill Ave, Yorktown 914-962-3777; www.theheightsbistro.com). A New American restaurant, The Heights is one of eight non-chain restaurants in Westchester to offer a gluten-free menu. The response has been amazing, says owner David Shakin. (FYI: Miller helped develop the menu here.)
Ciao! (5-7 John R Albanese Pl, Eastchester 914-779-4646; www.ciaoeastchester.com). This lively, family Italian eatery has a specially marked menu that identifies which selections may be prepared gluten-free.
Epstein's Kosher Delicatessen, (387 North Central Ave, Hartsdale 914-428-5320; www.epsteinsdeli.com). Some gluten-free offerings include fresh soups, and lettuce-wrapped pastrami, corned beef, and chopped liver sandwiches.
Halstead Avenue Bistro (123 Halstead Ave, Harrison 914-777-1181; www.halsteadbistro.com). Halstead offers multiple gluten-free options from beer (honey beer from Ramapo Valley Brewery) to desserts (cheesecake with a crust of caramelized apples instead of flour).
Jackson & Wheeler, (25 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville (914) 741-2000; www.jacksonandwheeler.com). Offers a gluten-free menu for lunch and dinner, including gluten-free pasta (cavatelli made from rice bran with wild-mushroom ragout), beer, and desserts.
Maud's Tavern (149 Southside Ave, Hastings on Hudson 914-478-2326; www.maudstavern.com). Maud adapts almost any item, even shepherd¡¯s pie (using corn starch instead of flour) to accommodate CD sufferers, and there are plenty of gluten-free desserts.
Ray's Caf¨¦ (176 South Ridge St, Rye Brook 914-937-0747). This reasonably priced Chinese restaurant has a full gluten-free menu.
Seasons An American Bistro and Lounge (289 Rte 100, Somers 914-276-0600; www.seasonsatsomers.com). The gluten-free menu includes selections of flourless appetizers (e.g., chicken satay, bacon-wrapped shrimp), lettuce wraps, cheese fondue to share, and create-a-plate selections.
Will That Be Porter
With Your Sicilian?
Billy Joel may be known as the "Piano Man," but Ron Masciandaro, owner of The Pizza Place (92 Main St, Yonkers 914-709-1050), is known as the "Pizza Piano Man." The 45-year old Hartsdale resident, who studied at Boston¡¯s Berklee College of Music, is as fond of the ultra thin-crust New York style pizza he serves as he is of playing Tony Bennett, Hoagy Carmichael, and Whitney Houston tunes on the upright piano just inside the shop's front door. With the exception of the apartments above and adjacent to his shop, Masciandaro doesn't deliver. "I want people to come here, have a slice, and maybe listen to a little Cole Porter."
Franz Fruhmann, previously exec-utive chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills and the opening consulting chef at Paul Newman¡¯s The Dressing Room in Westport, Connecticut, has replaced Matthew Stanczak as executive chef at North Star (85 Westchester Ave, Pound Ridge 914-764-0200; www.northstarny.com). Entr¨¦es include pan-roasted halibut in a five-onion sauce, seared breast of duck, and shrimp-and-squash risotto.
Chef Jason Milanese, formerly executive chef at the Beach House Restaurant at the Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod, prepares modern makeovers of classic dishes at the new The Saltwater Grille (183 Harbor Dr, Stamford, CT 203-391-6500; www.saltwatergrille.net) The New American bistro, which took over the space of the former Rusty Scupper, is located on the Long Island Sound and has multiple balconies and patios. Dinner entr¨¦es, which include roasted day-boat cod, grilled rare tuna steak with herbed spatzle, orecchiette with local mushrooms, and double-cut pork chops over maple sweet potatoes, range from $14 to $32.
Also new in Stamford is Ferrante Restaurant (191 Summer St, Stamford, CT 203-323-2000; ferranterestaurant.com), a Northern Italian eatery opened by Lenny Lorando (famous for receiving a $16,000 tip¡ªone of the largest on record while working at Nello in Manhattan). Main dishes range from $16 to $40, and include cannelloni with wild mushrooms, pan-roasted organic hen, center-cut swordfish in a Champagne mustard, as well as 20 different gourmet pizzas.
The Mint Cafe (381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow 914-631-2120), run by Hassan Jarane, the owner of Mint Premium Foods in Tarrytown, has opened on the grounds of Philipsburg Manor. Panini, salads, and desserts like housemade ice cream and lemon-mint sorbet are offered. The cafe is open every day but Tuesday and most items are less than $10.
High-end nursery Mariani Gardens (45 Bedford Rd, Armonk 914-273-3083) now operates a 16-seat breakfast and lunch caf¨¦. Selections include crepes, omelets, salads, fresh fruit smoothies, and baked goods such as muffins and brownies.
Due to open some time this month in the space that once housed the Bolobar is Pour (241 Main St, Mount Kisco 914-864-0606; www.pourmtkisco.com), a wine bar and small-plates eatery. It is the brainchild of Anthony Colasacco, a former part owner of The Granite Springs Inn. Light fare, including tramezzini (Italian tea sandwiches); sharing plates (cured meats, grilled flatbread with white bean dip, bruschetta trio); panini; plus soup from nearby Ladle of Love, will be served, costing from $6 to $18. Pour will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 pm until 2 am. Next month, Lola's Tea House (130 Fifth Ave, Pelham 914-738-2100; www.lolasteahouse.com) is set to open, offering homemade soups and salads, finger sandwiches, and themed afternoon teas (English, Chinese, Moroccan, French)
Pleasantville-based Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. (99 Castleton St, 914-741-2337; www.captainlawrencebrewing.com) was voted No. 5 in Beeradvocate magazine's "Top 50 American Breweries" poll. The survey was based on user reviews submitted to www.beeradvocate.com. The brewery is open Friday 4 to 7 pm and Saturday 12 to 6 pm for tastings.