Amuse Bouche

Sensational Summer Cocktails, Digging into Corn, Celebrating the Peak of Blueberry Season, and more.



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Booze Buzz: Backyard Drinking

These warm-weather eateries offer tantalizing­—and refreshing—potent potables.




When summer’s heat descends, practically anything wet, cold, and within reach is a welcome refresher. Here are a few tips on sensational seasonal sips from local eateries and watering holes.

   Sangria, the popularity of which was jumpstarted at the 1964 World’s Fair, has developed an image of cheap swill to wine buffs, and, to be sure, there is plenty of uninspired red punch with floating fruit that gets called sangria. But we in Westchester are especially fortunate that Rui Cunha, owner of Oporto (191 E Hartsdale Ave, Hartsdale 914-722-6565; oportorestaurant.com), has elevated this humble red quaff to new heights. Oporto offers three distinct sangrias—red, white, and white-strawberry.
Each is available in three sizes (8 oz, $6.50; ½ l, $12.95; 1 l, $23.95). Dry Portuguese table wines serve as the base for each of Oporto’s renditions, and sangria-meister Cunha uses pure fruit liqueurs—rather than sugar, honey, or juice—to sweeten the blends. And he uses oranges for sweetness and color, plus limes for more acidity. Sparkling water adds a tingle. The question of which version is best is grounds for debate (and refills) at the restaurant. And the debate is sure to spill outside Oporto’s doors soon, as the summer of 2008 will mark the debut of Oporto’s first bottled sangrias.

 Wine lovers often think pink for summer refreshment; dry, ice-cold rosés are refreshing on their own and a wonderful complement to most any food you’d encounter in an alfresco setting. Plates (121 Myrtle Blvd, Larchmont 914-834-1244; platesonthepark.com) offers two of the best: Domaine Tempier’s Bandol ($55 bottle) and Robert Sinskey’s vin gris from Carneros, by the glass ($12).

 Summer is a great time to tap the imagination at eateries whose cuisines are rooted firmly in the warm-weather spirit. Resist the temptation to grab a 32-ounce sweet tea at McDonald’s drive-thru; instead, enjoy this authentic Southern-style treat with the down-home cooking at Memphis Mae’s (173 S Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson 914-271-0125; memphismaes.com). In Mount Vernon you can chill with a Hurricane or Key lime Margarita at the Bayou (580 Gramatan Ave, 914-668-2634; bayourestaurantny.com), or a mango Mojito at Jamaican-tinged Ripe Kitchen & Bar (151 Sandford Blvd, 914-665-7689). Like your summer tipple strong? Wind down with a homemade limoncello—the zesty lemon digestivo native to Southern Italy— at Grappolo Locanda (76 King St, Chappaqua 914-238-5950;  grappololocanda.com). 

 

Nibbles


Angelina’s (97 Lake Ave, Tuckahoe 914-779-7319; angelinasoftuckahoe.com), a Southern Italian restaurant, was named by Wine Enthusiast magazine as one of the nation’s most wine-friendly eateries. The DiNapoli family, who took over the restaurant in March 2007, built up the wine list from some 45 wines to close to 700 (they now have more than 5,000 bottles in their cellar). “The best part of building a restaurant wine list is the people I meet and places I go,” says owner Louis DiNapoli. “Next, I am going to the Banfi Winery in Montalcino, Italy.” Angelina’s offers a $100 per person monthly wine dinner—this month on the 15th, a Caymus four-course dinner. //

The defunct Chart House has morphed into a brand-new American brasserie, Half Moon (1 High St, Dobbs Ferry 914-693-4130; harvest2000.com). The dinner-only waterside restaurant is the fourth for the Fort Pond Bay Company; others include Harvest-on-Hudson in Hastings. Executive Chef Sal Sprufero offers dishes such as the Montauk clambake ($52 for 2 to 3 diners; $105 for 4 to 6); a mixed à la plancha (steel-plate griddle) plate (pork belly, veal chop, lamb chop, pork chop); veal scalloppini topped with an over-easy egg in a green peppercorn-and-lemon tarragon sauce; and seafood bruschetta in a herbaceous broth. Main dishes cost between $18 and $37; the international wine list includes many bottles under $50 //

In the base of the Bar Building and adjacent to the Ritz is the newly opened Via Quadronno (199 Main St, White Plains 914-288-9300), an offshoot of the Via Quadronno originally in Manhattan. The Northern Italian restaurant specializes in dishes from Milan. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served //

A quartet of new owners has transformed the formerly rundown High Street Roadhouse into the Rye Roadhouse (12 High St, Rye 914-925-2668; theryeroadhouse.com), a neighborhood eatery serving Cajun, Creole, and Southern dishes. “It was a dive,” admits co-owner Greg DeMarco. “A dive that was loved, but a still a dive.” The makeover was extensive, resulting in a completely new bar and kitchen. Joe Baynes, a CIA graduate and a former chef at the Westchester Country Club in Harrison, heads the kitchen. Main dishes (from $16 to $27) include “Big Joe’s” jambalaya, bourbon-glazed pork chops, crawfish étouffée, and blackened red snapper. A Creole brunch on Sunday also is available, with candied pecan-coconut French toast, poached eggs with andouille hash, and fried or poached eggs and sausage gravy over buttermilk biscuits. Blues and Southern rock bands play the Roadhouse twice a month //

Also new in Peekskill is 12 Grapes Music & Wine Bar (12 N Division St, Peekskill 914-737-6624; 12grapes.com), a New American eatery one block from the Paramount Center for the Arts. Dishes offered include rack of lamb with glazed carrots and broccoli rabe, grilled mahi-mahi with black-bean rice, and New York strip steak in a blueberry barbecue sauce (entrée prices range from $18 to $32). Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, the restaurant offers live music Wednesday through Sunday //

French bakery Bisou Pâtisserie and Café (146 Bedford Rd, Pleasantville 914-747-9780), which opened this past winter, now offers outdoor seating. Enjoy one of Owner and Pastry Chef Carolyn Atamian’s confections; she is an alum of Fauchon, Jean Georges, and Payard Pâtisserie…You now can enjoy your shrimp Francese, veal piccata, and chicken Sorrentino under the open sky a couple stories above White Plains’ busy thoroughfare at Iannelli’s (359 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-683-1313). The Southern Italian eatery has a new 3,000-square-foot, 60-seat rooftop terrace.   // JBT

 

 

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