20 New Fabulous Restaurants in Westchester
Where to see, be seen, and get your eat on in 2010
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583 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
Comfort’s chef/owner, John Halko, has the luxury of knowing his customer base. His first Westchester business—the wildly-popular, original, mostly takeout Comfort—earned him the loyalty of Rivertown families, who found reasonably priced fast food prepared with organic ingredients. Within a few months, his Asian-spiced chicken had supplanted even pizza delivery as the pinch meal of choice, though a phone-booth space made lingering at Comfort un-comfortable, as did an absent liquor license and bathroom.
Halko’s urbane new digs across the street sports a full bar and bathrooms, plus a slew of new dishes designed for enjoying in “little-c” comfort. Alongside the familiar standards (like Comfort’s addictive rotisserie chicken), look for deep, warming bowls of Thai-style shrimp curry, in which snappy, perfectly cooked shrimp bask in deep lakes of lemongrass-scented sauce. In fact, you’ll find that everything in this stylish, family-friendly eatery—from organic burgers, steaks, and pastas to loads of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes—offers loving consolation when home cupboards are bare. Plus, at Comfort, takeout is still offered (and used)—but now home delivery is a bonus for locals.
115 Cedar St, New Rochelle
This gorgeous former plastics factory has been reborn as a Puerto Rican restaurant, where dancing, drinking, and dining mix with perfect ease. Gone are the dark colors and heavy moldings that marked its iteration as MacMenamin’s Grill. Instead, you’ll find stark brick walls and billowing white curtains: the space’s loft-like glamour is restored.
Fans from the Bronx to Connecticut come for Don Coqui’s inclusive, happy vibe, which includes massive servings of homey Puerto Rican standards, like slow-cooked pork pernil served with pigeon pea rice and tostones, or hanger steak churrasco paired with black bean rice and tangy, garlicky chimichurri. They wash it all down with potent mojitos, and when their heads start to spin, they sweat it out on the dance floor to the strains of “It’s Raining Men.”
A table at The Cookery is a no-thrills affair—until the food arrives
39 Chestnut St, Dobbs Ferry
So much about Italian food—its reverence for fresh ingredients and lack of pretension—is exemplified in The Cookery’s no-nonsense dining room. You’ll find no linen tablecloths and no regiments of glasses—only napkins made from dishtowels, and waiters who wear mechanics’ uniforms. The no-frills approach speaks volumes in restaurant-ese: this little restaurant is all about its kitchen.
The Cookery’s sumptuous appetizer of grilled housemade scamorza with tomato jam and baby lettuces ($7). The dishtowel? Evidence of The Cookery’s no-nonsense approach to dining.
Look for robust regional dishes executed with finesse, including divine house-made pastas, gutsy house-ground sausages, and fish so perfect (like dorade with fennel and borlotti beans) you’ll think it swam down from heaven—via Italy. In fact, it’s a little sickening, but Chef Dave DiBari’s great at meats, too. We can’t wait for his jubilantly carnal marrowbones stuffed with pork cheeks and breadcrumbs—DiBari quips that this on-trend February special was inspired by stuffed clams.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napolitana
1955 Central Ave, Yonkers
Sacrilege! Pepe’s august 1925 pizzeria—the anchor of New Haven’s fabled Wooster Street—has come down to Yonkers to challenge the Great Pies of New York. Can it beat Tarry Lodge, or even Totonno—or is Connecticut pizza coming to Yonkers akin to bringing coals to Newcastle?
We’re not going to detonate that particular bomb, but we will confess our addiction to Pepe, whose twin coal-fired behemoths crank out some of the best clam pies south of Norwalk. Imagine yeasty, slightly charred rounds holding lavish beds of juicy topneck clams, whose briny, sea-side punch is punctuated by salty Romano cheese and sliced garlic. And don’t judge us on this one—after all, addiction is a sickness—we love these pies paired with liter after liter of artificially-flavored Foxon Park birch beer, brewed in East Haven, Connecticut, but always available at Pepe.
Lolita Cocina and Tequila Bar
230 Mill St, Byram, CT
Look for a table-side tequila cart at this urbane, bi-level party place, where a cozy outdoor terrace overlooks projected silent, captioned films. Inside, ranks of votives glimmer, reflected in old, shimmering mirrors, making this chic, clubby restaurant as tough/cool as a Sergio Leone flick.
But with a serious Mexican kitchen headed by ex-El Teddy’s Juan Manuel Reyes, Lolita’s doesn’t stop at margaritas but boasts a sophisticated take on South of the Border. Look for barbecued spare ribs and masa-dusted fried oysters (paired with chili-spiked masa and chipotle crema), as well as blackened grouper tacos served with jicama slaw and pepitas. We don’t know about you, but it all looks delicious—and we’re already whistling the theme from Fistful of Dollars.
Through the glass doorway, adjacent to The Gap on South Moger, you’ll find the vivid green-walled interior of NEO.
NEO World Bistro and Sushi Bar
69 S Moger St, Mount Kisco
Evoking the futurist hero of The Matrix and the bounty of the new world, this serene, subterranean space spins Asian fusion with a twist. Instead of endless loops around the Orient, Chef Sianto Njotoatmodjo’s (formerly of Thornwood’s ACE) sails west—hitting Europe and even Mexico for an inclusive culinary embrace.
NEO World Bistro’s bibimbap is a fiery Korean treasure.
Look for sushi tortillas to start, piled with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, cilantro, and guacamole, or dip into soothing aioli-slicked bouillabaisse or Parmigiano-dusted seafood risotto. Inventive, super-fresh sushi is always a winner, though these days we’re craving heat. We wrap ourselves around radiantly-hot stone bowls of Korean bibimbap, spiked with pleasant, sinus-clearing fire.