Atlantic halibut with sunchokes, grumolo radicchio, asparagus, and ramp vinaigrette
New York City chef/restaurateur duo Scott and Heather Fratangelo brought their artful plating, inspired ingredients, and attention to detail to Ardsley when they opened L'inizio in 2013, and we thank them. The place nods at local sustainability with reclaimed wood from turn-of-the-century White Plains barns. (Oh, how these modern establishments love their reclaimed wood!) Contemporary sloped chairs pop against minimalistic gray walls with silvery wormwood wainscoting, burlap-sack window drapes, and lighting that harkens to a medieval castle. Vibrant, crafty vegetable paintings brighten the austere look. Music adds more edge, with songs from Amy Winehouse and Florence and The Machine on the playlist.
There’s not much of a bar in the middle of two small dining rooms, but the few triangle-shaped stools belie an artisanal-cocktail approach that delighted my guest. She skipped over the Old Fashioned, which is anything but, with a blueberry- and orange-peel-infused Larceny bourbon. Going against Italian tradition, she instead relished the warming and energizing Margarita of white tequila infused with Calabrian chili and honey, oak barrel-aged two weeks on premises, then served muddled with basil and lime. “We take our cocktail program seriously,” says Executive Chef Scott Fratangelo, formerly executive chef/owner of Manhattan’s Spigolo. Before that, he worked at the celebrated Union Square Café (as sous chef), Gramercy Tavern, Capsouto Frères, Café Centro, and Estia.
One eye-closing bite of the introductory ciabatta—floury and crunchy on the outside, soft and pleasing inside—reveals the talent of Fratangelo’s wife, Executive Pastry Chef and Co-Owner Heather Fratangelo, a French Culinary Institute (today the International Culinary Center) graduate who worked at Eleven Madison Park, db Bistro Moderne, and Salute before she met Scott at Union Square Cafe.
Let’s continue to toss tradition aside and describe dessert first. Heather’s dramatic rendition of pumpkin cheesecake is drizzled with Prosecco caramel and cranberries, and pierced with pumpkin-seed brittle. Her coffee panna cotta is almost too good for dipping the airy, cinnamon-sugar bombolini that come with it. The house-made salted caramel semifreddo (an Italian frozen dessert) connects with its chocolate soufflé tart through a stem of ganache.
But L’inizio’s savory side shouldn’t be overlooked, because all the meat comes from D’Artagnan, an organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free purveyor—and because it’s done so well. Several antipasti are worth trying: fluffy, smoked Maple Farm ricotta and acacia honey on grilled bread; crostini with rich chicken-liver pâté, sage, and peach mostarda; bacon-y baked clams; and impressive house-made pork sausage with parsley and yellow wax beans. Save room for the creamy, surprisingly light
gnocchi with braised Fazio Farm rabbit; fresh Castelvetrano olives; and savory, brown rosemary sauce. The acorn-squash-and-ricotta ravioli are sweetened with cider butter, while crispy Brussels sprouts add an earthy taste. The moist, flaky Arctic char with chowder isn’t bad, either.
To pair with all that, the Fratangelos curate a lengthy wine list. They also create special prix-fixe dinners, offer weekend brunches, and have a Barrels & Bites menu 5 to 6:30 pm and 9 pm to close daily.
698 Saw Mill River Rd, Ardsley (914) 693-5400