Best New Restaurants 2011

Westchester’s newcomers sling serious star power (and flavor).



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Arrosto
25 S Regent St, Port Chester (914) 939-2727

House-made pasta at Arrosto

This massive Port Chester newcomer comes via our most recent Manhattan restaurateur expat: Godfrey Polistina, who is former owner/founder in Manhattan’s ‘Cesca, Carmine's, Virgil’s, and Ouest. (He still owns 'Cesca.) Along with antipasti meant to share in array, Arrosto introduces large-format mains. Look for an 80-ounce, aged, bone-in rib eye meant to feed three to four diners, or a three-pound lobster with vanilla brown butter for as many as can take it down. This is the sort of restaurant that favors large groups with hearty appetites.

Yet wood-fired personal pizzas—with toppings like shaved potato, truffle cream, and guanciale or lardo, chili flakes, pomodoro, and Pecorino Romano—make this a seductive spot for just about anyone looking for a great, Italophilic meal. All of Arrosto’s pastas are made in-house and are offered in “a little” or “a lot” portions. They include chewy casarecce with gigante beans and duck confit, or sweet potato gnocchi with Brussels sprouts and walnuts. Plus, Arrosto’s 22 by-the-glass wines are additionally offered in 500 ml carafes and by the bottle, with many of these bottles in the $26 to $65 range (though a vast list of strictly bottled wines creep up to $125). Happily, Arrosto has many wines in that cheap and cheerful $30 to $40/bottle range. We love Arrosto’s motto: “Life is too short to drink bad wine.” (For a full review, see page 108.)

Lalibela
37 S Moger Ave, Mount Kisco (914) 864-1343

Lalibela, named for a northern Ethiopian town, swept into Mount Kisco on a warm African breeze, simultaneously introducing Westchester to the nuances of injera, wats, tibs, and berbere, while building a loyal group of devoted fans.

Though Lalibela’s digs are modest, with ochre walls, a few posters, and unclothed tables, the murky depth of two African spice combinations—berbere and mitmita—are all the geographical evocations one needs. Dishes arrive piled on spongy injera flatbread, which serves as plate, food, and fork. Diners scoop manageable mouthfuls with shreds of injera, hopefully washing down the spice with cool Ethiopian beer. While we love all the flavors and the warm hospitality of owner Selamawit Tesfaye, we especially applaud Lalibela for adding more diversity to our dining scene.

D Thai Kitchen
677 Commerce St, Thornwood (914) 741-1313

Unassuming (to the point of nearly invisible), D Thai Kitchen’s looks are deceiving. Behind its modest Commerce Street façade, Chef Tom Theuyoo slings remarkably complex, homestyle Thai food.

Look for well-poised, herb-laden curries that manage a judicious balance of mouthwatering acid and heat, where massaman’s coconut milky richness is countered by the funky snap of citrus and fish sauce. Drunken Man noodles are properly spicy, while satays come with irresistible peanut/chili sauce. Salads are also fabulous, especially candied duck slices on a crisp slaw of bright mint, lime, and green apple. Yum.

Piri-Q
360 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck (914) 341-1443

The indomitable Rui Correia, of Douro Restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut, and the (sadly) now closed Oporto Restaurant in Hartsdale, has winnowed his Portuguese restaurant concept to offer a new kind of culinary fusion. Piri-Q takes its name from the blend of two traditions, piri-piri sauce from Portugal and good, ol’ American barbecue. Expect Chef Correia’s version of comfort food with wood-grilled meats to take center stage.

Along with the bolinhos (Portuguese deep-fried cod balls), you’ll find crowd-pleasing tapas like meatballs, hummus, and grilled chourico. These yield to char-grilled, piri-piri-dressed chickens, offered with a slew of available sides. Also look for barbecued ribs (seasoned with Portuguese spices), while meaty standards like bitoque (beefsteak served over Portuguese chips with fried egg and garlicky wine sauce) round out a carnivorous spread. Lighter eaters might share chicken paelha and simply grilled salmon with veggies. With options like these, who needs supermarket rotisserie?

Eclisse Mediterraneo Cucina
189 E Post Rd, White Plains (914) 761-1111

Eclisse joins Shiraz to make Westchester a nexus of Persian dining; never before has the word “borani" been spoken by so many locals. But unlike Shiraz, which sticks to Iran, Eclisse includes the cuisines of nearby Mediterranean cultures, resulting in a crowd-pleasing and neighborly culinary mix that dips into Greece, Italy, and Spain. Alongside standards like caprese salad and pasta, you’ll find Persian standouts like mirza ghasemi, an addictively tarry eggplant dip that defies all human restraint. Traditional Persian stews speak of subtle spicing, like warming ghourmeh sabzi, or beef stew with dried lemon, parsley, scallions, kidney beans, and herbs. Meanwhile, Eclisse’s fabulous cocktail list beckons with the heady Arabian Nights mixers rosewater and house-made falernum. For dessert, don’t miss stellar saffron ice cream with fragrant rosewater and pistachios. (Look for a full review at a later date.)

Alvin and Friends
49 Lawton St, New Rochelle (914) 654-6549

Mile-high plating by Chef Raymond Jackson at Alvin and Friends

Along with Cienega (see page 51), Alvin and Friends characterizes the new New Rochelle, a place that celebrates its cultural diversity, but in a moneyed, style-conscious way. Stunningly handsome owner Alvin Clayton—a former model from the pages of Vogue, Glamour, Elle, and Esquire—has culled friends from New Rochelle’s cultural elite, including interior designer Michelle Sanchez-Boyce. Together, they've created a chic meeting place that celebrates African American, Caribbean, and Southern cuisine.

Hung with Clayton’s richly hued paintings (he’s contributed work to the art collections of Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, and Robert De Niro), Alvin and Friends has all the charm of a very sophisticated private home. Meanwhile, Chef Raymond Jackson of Manhattan’s now-defunct Maroons charms with the universal appeal of jerk chicken wings, Louisiana oyster stew, fried chicken, and spicey fried catfish with cornbread. These are the sort of flavors that mark everyone’s soul food, regardless of their incidental ethnic background.

 

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