Locals know: This is the hole-in-the-wall to hit for cozy, unpretentious, delicious food. Attentive male waiters in white dress shirts and ties stopped by our table throughout the meal, quietly offering freshly ground pepper, grated cheese, and water refills. Our snowy-haired main server exuded an old-fashioned elegance, humor, and warmth that compensated for the dated and mildly dilapidated décor. (After a nice meal there, you might say, “charmingly weathered.”) The utilitarian gray-blue carpet and water-stained ceiling reminded me of high school classrooms suffering from budget cuts. And mirrors on almost every wall don’t do much to provide a semblance of space because the maroon-and-white clothed tables are pushed so close together that conversation with other diners isn’t out of the question. But it’s an intimate, quirky place with straightforward fare. Near the entrance hangs a boot-shaped rendition of Italy made out of wine corks.
Good bread with a crunchy outside and soft inside bodes well for the meal. Wide strips of salty pink prosciutto are unceremoniously draped over sweet arcs of honeydew. A salad special of fresh mixed greens, candied walnuts, shavings of Parmesan, and raspberry vinaigrette was bordered by pear slices and orange wedges, making it look like a flower.
The gnocchi might be the only pasta made in-house, and it’s worth a try. The pillows of potato luxuriate in creamy pink sauce dotted with bits of prosciutto and herbs. Meanwhile, a server appears tableside to shower the top of this heavenly mound with grated Parmesan from his little bowl and spoon. Yes, please! Veal scaloppine Francese, sautéed in lemon, butter, and white wine, won’t disappoint. With a choice of pasta or vegetable on the side, the dish was more than enough for two people. Regulars swear by the chicken alla Piero, sautéed in Marsala with mushrooms, pimentos, and artichokes.
Tiramisù is the only house-made dessert, and they were sold out on our visit, unfortunately. Skip the heavy cheesecake for the fluffy, creamy amaretto cake with almond-brown sugar crumble topping. Expect a small, basic wine list and if BYOB, a $20 corkage fee per bottle.
44 S Regent St, Port Chester (914) 937-2904