Restaurant Review: Between The Lines

A snazzy makeover makes Harrison’s Between The Lines well worth a visit



Reborn and Rejuvenated
A snazzy makeover makes Harrison’s Between The Lines well worth a visit

 

“Someday, I want to open my own restaurant.” That’s nearly every chef’s dream. However, many give it up early on, once they understand how expensive and labor-intensive it is to launch a restaurant and how great the chance of failure. But others bravely sail into the perilous waters—and often end up on the rocks.

 

That’s where Richard DiGiacomo was after two years of trying to make a go of Bistro 235 in downtown Harrison. “We had the food, but we were lacking atmosphere,” says the chef-owner.

But life can turn on a chance moment. One evening Paula Young, former reporter with the New York Daily News, left her sweater behind. When she came back the next night, things were slow, and DiGiacomo was alone, planning to cook for a friend back from a ski trip. He invited Young to stay for dinner. She became a regular, but soon learned the restaurant was near to closing. “She told me, ‘All you need is a face-lift,’” DiGiacomo recalls. Young, who had capital and decorating skills, became his angel and partner, creating an atmosphere worthy of the food.

 

Bistro 235 closed down in June, and a month later was reborn as Between the Lines.

The name, proposed by Young, refers first to the fact that Harrison and environs were known as “between the lines” during the Revolutionary War, when the British occupied Manhattan and the rebel colonists, the land around Peekskill. There is also a beautiful literary reference on the back of the menu: “Man seldom reads with care, unless reading a letter from someone he loves. Then, and only then, he reads every word, inside the margins and between the lines.”

 

The romantic influence is evident in the new dining room: Two alcoves in the front windows offer a lush, intimate dining spot for couples, with deep blue velvet curtains and blue velvet club chairs. The rich pumpkin walls are hung with prints of antique hot air balloons and maps, and the original tin ceiling repeats the gorgeous blue color. In the back corner is a lushly decorated built-in nook, where six good friends can pull shut the blue velvet curtains on the world and dine in luxurious privacy.

 

The bar has ravishing red walls and a blue-tiled bar and hanging lights that repeat the colors of the four velvet club chairs along the wall: alternating blue and red, with wooden cocktail tables. Filling the whole wall above is a mosaic mirror whose stylish shape and color remind me of a chic ’50s fifties coffee table. Somehow the room seems to inspire a little martini drinking. It’s perfect that the restaurant features live jazz Thursday through Saturday.

 

DiGiacomo offers a relatively small menu of six appetizers and seven entrées (plus specials). For appetizers, we tried the impeccably fresh sea scallops, pan-fried to a golden brown and served with a delicious orange beurre blanc sauce. One was placed on top of a nicely textured, saffron-flavored “risotto cake” (the size and shape of a rice cracker), then topped with fine slices of candied orange peel. Two freshly made crêpes stuffed with finely chopped sautéed mushrooms were rich and delicious. Other possibilities were grilled shrimp on endive spears and spinach salad with smoked salmon and apples

 

The wine list is interesting: No bottle costs more than $45, and all are available at neighboring importer Select Wines LLC. (The wine list invites you to take it home and order the wines over the phone or from the web site, www.selectwinesllc.com.)

 

For the main course, we tried something you don’t see much on modern menus, chicken Cordon Bleu. The nicely moist chicken breast with golden brown skin was rolled around a thin slice of ham, and served with a flavorful sauce and a parsnip purée. Both entrées came with tasty chunks of beets, carrots and parsnips that looked very pretty scattered around the plate. The special that night was skirt steak, marinated in lime and Chipotle chilies and served with garlic mashed potatoes. I tasted a little heat from the chilies, but no lime (who knows, maybe that’s a good thing). I would have liked more garlic in the potatoes.

 

Two desserts survived from the old restaurant, and we just happened to order them both: crème brûlée and chocolate volcano. The crème brûlée had richness, depth of flavor, and a nice glaze of caramelized sugar on top, but it was cool in some places and warm in others. The chocolate volcano was excellent—an individual cake made with real Belgian chocolate and a hot, molten middle. The cappuccino was also excellent.

 

I’ll quibble with some of the menu descriptions, which are sometimes meaningless (dried harvest berry sauce) or misleading (calling the chocolate volcano a “soufflé”). That aside, the food is good, making Between the Lines well worth a visit in its new incarnation.

 

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. Business has tripled since Young and DiGiacomo have teamed up.

 

BETWEEN THE LINES 

235 Harrison Avenue, Harrison

(914) 835-8888

 

HOURS:

Lunch, Mon. to Fri. 12-3 pm

Dinner, Mon. to Thur. 5:30-10 pm, Fri. and Sat. 5:30-11 pm, Sun. 5:30-9 pm

Live jazz Thurs. through Sun.

 

PRICES:

Appetizers: $7-$9

Entrées:  $16-$23

Desserts: $7

 

 

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