Best of Westchester 2012: Food & Drink
Soup to nuts—and cake, cheese plates, sushi, salad, wine...
Plums with Mozzarella and Pistachios
At Farmhouse at Bedford Post
954 Old Post Rd, Bedford
(914) 2347800; bedfordpost.com
Chef Jeremy McMillan’s take on the classic Caprese swaps out tomatoes for orchard-fragrant plums (or beets, depending on the season). The result counters the dairy deliciousness of melting, barely cohesive mozzarella with a touch of mouthwatering acid.
at TAVERN AT CROTON LANDING
41 N Riverside Ave
(917) 991-7661/(914) 271-8020
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Real fruit pies seem to have gone the way of the dodo. Double crusts are laborious to roll, and the work is not suited to economies of scale. We love the few, the proud, that make pies the old-fashioned way. Dave Tuttle’s handmade, buttery-crusted, juice-soaked pies win our hearts—and our taste buds.
H & R Bialy Corp
41 Quaker Ridge Rd, New Rochelle
Weekends in New Rochelle wouldn’t be the same without a fat Sunday New York Times and a big brown paper bag of hot H & R bagels. Sure, the line is long (and the counter people, brusque), but, if you want to start your Sunday right, you need to duck into this neighborhood standard.
Best Of The Bash
French Cowboy Slider by Chef Peter Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group
Oh, this burger wasn’t playing fair (and it wasn’t playing around). Peter X. Kelly’s killer French Cowboy Slider—ground-aged rib eye with Hudson Valley foie gras, spicy Japanese mayo (bottom) and tomato-and-mustard-seed compote (top), cooked on a plancha, and served on a toasted pretzel bun with sea salt —swept our May 17th Burger, BBQ & Beer Bash at our Wine & Food Weekend with 132 votes. Folks, the burger was juicy; it was lavish. There were rumors that people had six of them (while we’ll only cop to three). The kicker is that this burger is a one-off sensation—you won’t find it at any of Kelly’s restaurants (unless you know enough to order it off-menu at X2O Xaviars on the Hudson). Don’t say we told you.
386 Main St, Armonk
(914) 273-8686; restaurantnorth.com
Sure, Chef Eric Gabrynowicz gets his share of notice. Just 30 years old, he’s already snagged a James Beard Award nomination, a Slow Food Snail of Approval, and Food & Wine magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef, New York Area, Award. But let’s not discount the phenomenal talent of his partner in Restaurant North, Stephen Paul Mancini. Mancini is a wine wunderkind and a genuine star in his own right. Drop by to sample any of his tightly curated wine picks—or check out Mancini’s thoughtful cocktails and house-made, non-alcoholic sodas using locally sourced ingredients.
Budget Chinese Takeout
On’s Chinese Kitchen
475 Bedford Rd, Pleasantville
You know you want it: We’re talking Chinese takeout. Wonton soup, egg rolls, and General Tso’s chicken. Dumplings. Moo shu pork. Chicken lo mein. All of your favorites are here in this happy little Pleasantville standard that earns our vote for being (really) good as well as cheap, with huge (the white takeout boxes are filled ’til they’re nearly bursting at the folds), steaming-hot portions that leave your belly—and your wallet—full. (They get extra-special points for providing free local delivery!)
Mini’s Prime Meats & Specialties
15 Park Pl, Bronxville
White-coated butchers are becoming a rare breed; they’ve virtually disappeared at supermarkets, having been replaced by stockers of pre-cut, pre-wrapped meats. Duck into this old-fashioned Bronxville butcher shop where you’ll find top-grade meats cut to order, and a staff that can teach you just how to cook them. Also, look for grill- and oven-ready prepared foods.
Photo by Andre Baranowski
The Gnarly Vine
501 Main St, New Rochelle
(914) 355-2541; thegnarlyvine.com
This buzzy, cheerful, neighborhood tapas bar feels very Spanish, with a nightly crowd of casual wine drinkers and a long menu of simple bites. The perfect partner to a couple of wind-down glasses is The Gnarly Vine’s delectable and ever-changing cheese plate—usually offered with fresh fruit, quince paste, and honey.
Photo courtesy of Park 143 Bistro
Park 143 Bistro
143 Parkway Rd, Bronxville
(914) 337-5100; 143parkbistro.com
If you’re meeting a few friends at a restaurant (but would love the privacy of dining at home), then book Park 143’s elegant chef’s table. Its seating is both elevated and recessed to offer the illusion of privacy—but at Park 143, there’s an endless wine cellar, and none of the cooking and cleanup of home. That gets our vote!
Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cupcake
Photo by Andre Baranowski
350° Classic Bakeshop
30 Elm Pl, Rye
This peanut-buttery chocolate cupcake is one of 350°’s “signature filled cupcakes,” but it only appears on this cute Rye bakery’s baking schedule on Wednesdays and Saturdays. No matter. We’ve found that if you stock up like crazy mid-week, and then drop by again on the weekend, you can keep these delicious beauties around all the time. Mwahahahaha.
179 Main St, New Rochelle
“Saffron-scented silk” is one way to describe the luscious Peruvian shrimp chowder (or chupe) served at New Rochelle’s sleek Cienega. It’s a study in gold with saffron and aji amarillo, the yellow Peruvian pepper that gives this dish its subtle bite. Not enough? This soup’s crowning glory is a tiny, fried quail’s egg, making the whole look like a Caribbean sunset.
Chupacabra at Bistro
64 Main St, Tuckahoe
(914) 961-2233 bistrolatino
Imagine a margarita with a little bit of bite. The Chupacabra, a spicy little number at Chef Rafael Palomino’s new bistro, is named for a South American bloodsucker and unites tequila, lime, cucumber, mint, and a dash of Tapatio Hot Sauce. Caliente!
Hand-Dipped Chocolate-Covered Pretzels at Lil’ Chocolate Shoppe
15 Washington Ave, Pleasantville
Let’s face it: Just about anything tastes good when it’s covered in chocolate. But there’s something especially primal and deliciously decadent about crunchy, salty pretzels dipped in chocolate—particularly when they’re hand-dipped in sweet, luscious, high-quality chocolate. That’s what you’ll find at this tiny Pleasantville shop, just a stone’s throw from the Burns Film Center. Look for dark, white, or milk chocolate (sprinkled with M&Ms, toffee, or Snickers pieces, if you like) that yields to a perfect, snappy, salty crunch. Mmm.
3436 Lexington Ave Mohegan Lake
The saying goes that “sometimes, you just can’t get a break.” Well, Augie’s Prime Cut gives that saying the lie. On Thursday nights, Augie’s not only offers free live music, but each table may choose a free bottle (priced up to $35). Music, food, and free wine—it’s our favorite way to relax!
Rye Ridge Deli
126 S Ridge St, Rye Brook
(914) 937-4289; ryeridgedeli.com
Whatever dish you’re looking for, 10 bucks says that Rye Ridge Deli serves it, from basic matzoh ball soup and pastrami on rye to guacamole and chips, hummus with pita chips, tacos, and French onion soup. After such a globe-trot, you might like to relax with dessert—try some black-and-white cookies washed down with an egg cream. Yum.
75 S Greeley Ave, Chappaqua
(914) 238-0698; chappaqualocal.com
Everything you’ve heard is true. This kid-friendly ice cream shop/café sources its organic ice cream from the Hudson Valley’s Ronnybrook Farm Dairy and serves its takeaway in eco-friendly containers. Look for locally sourced ingredients spun into a health-conscious menu of salads, soups, and sandwiches—even the “Kool Kids” PB&J comes with a side of fruit or veggies!
PiononoS at Siete Ocho Siete
414 Pelham Rd, New Rochelle
(914) 636-1229; sieteochosiete.com
This filling snack will keep you on the dance floor longer: Imagine sweet plantains filled with spicy, cumin-scented beef picadillo and served with yellow pigeon-pea rice. When we wash it down with a glass of sangria, we can salsa all night—and that’s why this dish gets our vote.
33 Lockwood Ave, Yonkers
Calamari is often the test of a great kitchen, because the difference between tender and vulcanized can be only a matter of seconds. Sure, you can take the easy way out and stew or deep-fry the squid, but, by simply grilling it with olive oil and herbs, you’re delivering the freshest taste of the sea. Look for a great version at this classic Yonkers standby.
Growler Fill Station
DeCicco Family Markets (DeCicco’s Ardsley)
21 Center St, Ardsley
(914) 813-2009; deciccos.com
Oh, we love those DeCicco boys for turning their personal obsession into an honest-to-goodness county amenity. Their 12-keg system in Ardsley outdoes even the new Yonkers Whole Foods Market to offer just-tapped freshness and excellent, world-spanning variety. The next time that you pick up your groceries and an overpriced six-pack, smack your head and think, “I coulda got a growler.”
502 New Rochelle Rd, Bronxville
(914) 663-4976; eliataverna.com
Grilled halloumi cheese is one of our weaknesses—it’s salty, a bit greasy, and oh, so fun to eat. When grilled, this brined Cypriot cheese (made from blended goat’s and sheep’s milk) gets tight, a little bouncy, and almost squeaks when you chew it. One of our favorite versions can be found at Eliá Taverna, a cozy neighborhood Greek spot in the Chester Heights section of Bronxville.
La Piccola Gourmet Italian Deli
885 Yonkers Ave, Yonkers
There is nothing like those spirals of house-made pork sausages that you find in Westchester’s great Italian delis. Just think of what you might do with them once you get them home—the grill, sausage and peppers, Sunday sauce—the world is yours. We love La Piccola for its perfect version—with just enough spice to make the pork more delicious.
Ice Cream Shop
Photo by Debbie Allan
Lighthouse Ice Cream Kompany
127 W Main St, Tarrytown
(914) 502-0339; lighthouseicecreamkompany.com
Look for super-fatted Battenkill Valley Creamery milk (named highest quality milk at the New York State Fair) to be spun into luscious ice cream with glorious flavors like peach and strawberry. The fruit comes from local farms, and don’t skip sundae sauces—you’ll find caramel, dulce de leche, hot fudge, marshmallow, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and pineapple. Yum.
Calcutta Wrap and Roll
465 Ashford Ave, Ardsley
Cheap, fast, and delicious, this bare-bones Indian restaurant is offering all-inclusive lunch thalis (with vegetables and a choice of naan or rice), all priced at less than 10 bucks. Always look for ample vegetarian options, excellent naan, and parathas—and true bargain-seekers might happily subsist on 16-ounce cups of veggie- and pulse- (i.e., legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, etc.) filled dals, just $3 to $4.
Photo by Andre Baranowski
Potato Chips Fondue
at The Beehive
30 Old Rte 22, Armonk (914) 765-0688 beehive-restaurant.com
Look, it’s not diet, or lite, or even health-conscious, and you won’t find this dish on any nutrition pyramid anywhere. But when you want something that’s insanely indulgent, something that speaks to your very soul, duck into Armonk’s Beehive for crisp, house-made potato chips served with warm, cheesy fondue for dipping. C’mon—you know you want it.
Arthur Avenue Bread
149 Cortlandt St, Sleepy Hollow
You see them in all of Westchester’s best delis: great, floury rounds of basic, rustic, Arthur Avenue bread. And, though it did originate in Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood, recently, the iconic Arthur Avenue Bread relocated its retail and wholesale operations to Sleepy Hollow. In its new retail store, you’ll find those famous rounds as well as long bastones, kaiser rolls (and other sandwich loaves)—plus muffins, bagels, cakes, authentic cannoli, and cookies.
Dante’s Gourmet Deli
429 Central Ave, White Plains
Sometimes, you can fall in love with just a smell. This happens to us every time we walk into Dante’s, an authentic, old-school Italian market that also serves top-quality imports. Looking for Puglian burrata? Or fragrant San Daniele prosciutto? You’ll find it here, along with excellent Italian breads, fresh sausages and meats, canned goods, Italian sandwiches, and antipasti. Delizioso.
12 High St, Rye
(914) 925-2668; ryeroadhouse.com
Meatloaf may not sound like anything to write home about, but this one’s got our pen in our hand. Rye Roadhouse’s house-made, Cajun-spiced version is slathered in rich pan gravy and comes with corn bread and a choice of two sides. Our picks? Mashed potatoes and jalapeño mac and cheese. Who needs veggies?
Delite Bake Shop
773 Yonkers Ave, Yonkers
You know those white-and-brown iced cakes with the shatteringly crisp pastry that alternates with yellow pastry cream? Delite is our source for this old-school Italian treat (known as “mille-feuille” in French-speaking countries)—and, while you’re there, pick up some cannoli and sfogliatelli—those familiar custard-filled “clam shells” whose name no one ever pronounces quite right.
102 Fisher Ave, Eastchester
(914) 961-0061; polpettina.com
This 20-seater is winning Westchester’s hearts by sourcing its ingredients locally and spinning them into delicious comfort standards. Look for pizzas made with house-stretched mozzarella—itself made with Hudson Valley milk—plus incredible lamb pastrami, melting meatballs, Captain Lawrence beer, and so much more. Blink-and-you-miss-it specials mean that first-time visitors keep coming back. In fact, our only complaint about Polpettina is that (understandably) we might have to wait our turn for a table.
2 Weaver St, Scarsdale
(914) 472-4600; massascarsdale.com
While many wines age well, olive oil does not. That means that one of the keys to getting great olive oil is to get it first. At Italian restaurant Massa’, the owners have a sneaky deal—one of the owners also operates a Puglian olive grove. The olives in the extra-virgin oil (500-milliliter bottles are available for purchase at $20) are as flavorful and fruity as they were when they came off the press.
Peanut Butter Cookie
The Iron Tomato
57 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 328-9400; theirontomato.com
Is there anything as homey as a peanut butter cookie? There’s gotta be a compelling reason to eat this treat anywhere other than in your mother’s kitchen. That said, drop into The Iron Tomato and get a cookie that’ll make your mom jealous. It’s fat, peanutty, chewy, and delicious—plus, after you eat one, you won’t be asked to take out the garbage.
China White Noodle Bar
578 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase
(914) 437-9700; chinawhiteusa.com
Admittedly, this dish looks a bit like the work of Hannibal Lecter; the duck is served on a wide platter, with its skin and flesh expertly removed and splayed like an edible Rorschach test. But who cares? We love the simple pleasures of swiping our tiny pancake with hoisin, and then loading it up with that crackly/sweet duck. The final touch is the watery crunch of shredded scallion, and a sip from one of China White’s wicked mai tais. Turns out, our Rorschach test spells the word “delicious.”
Martine’s Fine Bake Shoppe
10 Fisher Ave, Tuckahoe
Here’s the thing about quiche that’s so incredibly fabulous: In one little bite, this nearly ubiquitous pastry offers protein, starch, and veg. Plus, it’s French! We love the version sold at this intimate Tuckahoe classic—it’s got a buttery, crumbly crust and excellent, fresh-tasting fillings (and, PS, our hearts).
The Cuban at La Bella Havana
35 Main St, Yonkers (914) 920-9777; labellahavana.com
The unofficial snack of Miami (the Florida city that welcomed so many of Castro’s refugees), the Cuban sandwich makes the perfect foil for a few Mojitos. It’s all about balance—rich ham vs. briny pickles, rich cheese versus yellow mustard—and we love that La Bella Havana gives its sandwich press an extra shove to make the bread so crackling crisp.
Smoothie Bar (Lassi)
Little Spice Bazaar
27 E Main St, Mount Kisco
(914) 218-3333; littlespicebazaar.com
India had it all figured out, even before Pinkberry and Red Mango stepped in. They’ve been whizzing up cool, tangy yogurt with sweet, fresh fruit for absolutely ages. Stop into this cute little snack bar operated by the fine folks behind Little Kabab Station and tuck into crispy chaat and pulse salads washed down by delicious (and nutritious!) lassi.
487 Main St, Mount Kisco
(914) 241-6333; plgourmet.com
Myong’s sliders have a secret weapon: Instead of ground beef, they’re made with lamb. This gives these little burgers an outsized, meaty edge, which is only amped up with crisp Asian coleslaw and a tangy curry dressing. Who knew something so cute could pack so much punch?
Harvest Field Market
75 Fleetwood Ave, Mount Vernon
This popular fruit and grocery market offers seductive bargains for anyone who’s sick of pretty pyramids of produce offered at “Whole Paycheck” prices. Sure, it’s small and a little out of the way, but Fleetwood residents swear by Harvest Field’s value. And do you really need a thousand aisles when the fruit prices are so good?
412 North Ave, New Rochelle
(914) 355-2527; joloskitchen.com
The paired words “vegan” and “restaurant” generally don’t elicit gustatory raves, but Jolo’s Kitchen is a complete standout in the meatless world. While adhering to strict Rastafarian foodways—which means no meat or alcohol—Jolo manages to create vegetable-, pulse-, and grain-based foods that pack lovingly cooked flavor. Don’t miss the smoked “duck”—wheat-gluten mock meat with lima beans, onions, peppers, and spices. It’s amazingly meaty and substantial, and perfect to wash down with delicious, gingery juices that taste like $12 worth of produce squashed into each $5-to-$7, 16-ounce cup.
Flourish Baking Company
160 Summerfield St, Scarsdale
Everything is better in pastry—even your vegetables! Taking a page from classic French pastry (and classic English meat pies), Flourish offers savory, meal-in-a-box, vegetarian tarts that—with the addition of a salad—make the perfect, no-fuss summer meal. That gets our vote!
Piri-Q Restaurant Grill
360 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck
Imagine a Portuguese take on a chicken-and-ribs joint—but one by Chef Rui Correia, the man behind Greenwich, Connecticut’s wildly popular Douro Restaurant Bar. Piri-Q’s name is a blend of Portugal’s spicy piri-piri sauce and good old American barbecue, which sounds just about perfect on a warm summer night.
Ribs on the Run
396 Central Ave, White Plains
(914) 428-7427; ribsontherun-ny.com Ordering takeout can mean getting stuck in a short rotation of standards: pizza, Chinese, maybe Greek (if you’re feeling kinda adventurous). At Ribs on the Run, we can step out of the rota and get some down-home deliciousness—fast and reasonably priced. Ribs are the star here, and are available by the rack, half-rack, or in various combos. Whether you want a single BBQ rib dinner, a rack of succulent baby backs, or a family-sized combo package, you can find it here. St. Louis-style ribs? No problem. Chicken-and-rib combo? Coming right up. This humble little shop, tucked among the strip malls on busy Central Avenue, also offers burgers, fish, wings, wraps, and a bunch of sides and apps, including amazing corn fritters.
The Olde Stone Mill
2 Scarsdale Rd, Tuckahoe
If you’re looking for some serious fungi impact, check out Tuckahoe’s Olde Stone Mill. Its cream-sauced truffle ravioli are stuffed with wild mushrooms and laced with cognac and fragrant truffle oil. Ravilicious.
Hartsdale Wine & Liquors
216 E Hartsdale Ave, Hartsdale
(914) 723-3535; hartsdalewine.com
Finally: Champagne, offered for our beer budget. This seller of fine wines offers a variety of excellent deals, like discounted mixed cases, bargain call-brand spirits, and much, much more. If you have a taste for the good stuff—but can’t really afford it—you can drop into this friendly Hartsdale shop and start amassing the cellar of your wildest dreams, one bottle at a time.
The Kneaded Bread
181 N Main St, Port Chester
(914) 937-9489; kneadedbread.com
For years, The Kneaded Bread has been much more than a bakery, offering wonderful soups, coffee, salads, and sandwiches to happy lunchtime throngs. Now, a renovation with new café-style seating means that its lunch trade can spread out. Look for the wide and seductive salad bar (which includes shrimp/chicken grilled to order) that’s joined The Kneaded Bread’s ample bag of tricks.
Very Lemony Lemon Cake
Photo by Leslie Kahan
By the Way Bakery
574 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-0555; btwbakery.com
There is something glorious about an old-fashioned, American layer cake, and you can’t get a better one than the Very Lemony Lemon Cake at By the Way Bakery—it’s filled with lemon curd and has a sharp bit of lemon zest. And, by the way, you’d never know by looking—this wonderful cake is both dairy- and gluten-free.
Decadent, delicious, desirable—sample any of these treats to enter dessert nirvana.
Upside Down Pineapple Cake
Alvin & Friends Restaurant
49 Lawton St
Juicy with sugar (and a little bit of acid), spiced pineapples give this sticky dessert its urbane style. It’s the perfect way to end a meal at the place that has apparently become, by general consent, New Rochelle’s dining room.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet
386 Main St
Oh, the audacity! In a restaurant so characterized by sophistication, Chef Eric Gabrynowicz dares to serve chocolate chip cookies for dessert. That said, these are not just any old chocolate chip cookies—they’re cooked in miniature skillets and arrive topped with an oversized scoop of Hudson Valley-made Jane’s Ice Cream.
Banana Dulce de Leche Crumble
14 Main St
Chef Jill Rose’s desserts are legendary—buttery croissants, lemony tarts, her famed Chiboust cake. But we have a special place in our hearts for this homey, buttery crumble that unites banana with the butterscotch sweetness of dulce de leche.
216 Union Ave
These hot, extruded batons have deliciously crispy, deep-fried ridges that make snapping into a bite even more delicious. But don’t take our word for it—pick up a bag while they’re hot; we’ll bet those puppies don’t even make it two blocks.
X2O Xaviars on the Hudson
71 Water Grant St
Just like traditional cooking, molecular gastronomy succeeds or fails by the hand that wields it. The good news here is that Chef Peter Kelly is working the Anti-Griddle knobs. His parti-colored lollipops of freeze-dried ice cream are creamy and rich, but fruity and kinda chewy—and oh, so flavorful. These suckers get our vote for the treat of the year.
Photo by Maarten Steenman
455 Lexington Ave
Here’s a tip for when you’ve done something rotten: Get the one that you’ve aggrieved a big box of La Tulipe macarons. They’re so pretty, so gem-like, so bursting with intense fruit flavors that it’s impossible not to smile with a box in hand.
Burrata Wood Fired Pizza
425 White Plains Rd Eastchester
In a world of sticky, gummy cannoli, Burrata’s light and milky version stands out—though, with plenty of good-quality citron, it still has that obligatory, corner Italian bakery feel.