Westchester Eats

Our let-us-eat chocolate cake taste test, shops for choosy cheese-lovers, must-visit diners, and more



Westchester Eats

 

By John Bruno Turiano

 

Fromage homage

Sharp or mild, smooth or crumbly:

the cheese stands alone

 

BY DIANE WEINTRAUB POHL

 

Demand for  artisanal cheese seems to be higher than ever and—lucky us—we’ve got a number of shops right here in the county with cheeses to quell our cravings. Whether your favorite hails from cow, sheep, or goat; whether you covet cave-aged, bark-wrapped, or wine-soaked; these county shops can indulge you to oozy, odiferous excess.

“People are taking time to slow down a little and appreciate friends and family,” says Alex Walsh of Bedford Gourmet (Arcade Bldg, Rte 22, Bedford Village 914-234-9409), which offers approximately 150 cheeses. “Eating cheese is a part of that.” Though the shop sells prepared foods as well, cheese has been the dominant item since the doors opened almost 30 years ago. Now people clamor for its creamy, soft French Fromage des Clarines and three varieties of Westchester’s own Rainbeau Ridge goat cheese. Columbia County’s Coach Farm’s triple crème is another hot seller. “People say they don’t want high fat,” Walsh says. “But they’re liars. They’ll just go spend an extra hour at the gym.”

 

Apparently they want high fat in Pound Ridge, too. The year-old plum plums  (72 Westchester Ave, Pound Ridge
914-764-1525) can’t keep enough French triple crème Pierre Robert in stock. Hard, nutty Swiss Hoch Ybrig and soft washed-rind Italian Taleggio are other big sellers, says manager Wendy Marilee. The charming melon-toned shop displays about 50 to 70 cheeses on its temperature-controlled granite countertops, several of them from upstate and New England. Choose a few for a very civilized autumn picnic, courtesy of Plum Plum’s wicker picnic baskets complete with blanket, china, flatware, and wine glasses.

 

At Marshall’s Cheese (27 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry 914-591-1997), beer mugs might be more apt, since proprietor Barbara Marshall feels beer is a natural—and farmstead traditional—complement to cheese’s properties. “Beer’s effervescence cuts the creaminess and richness in cheese and goes well with hard cheeses, too,” she says. And so she offers many handcrafted brews to accompany her stock of about 200 cheeses, several of which hail from the Hudson Valley. But regardless of provenance, she bonds intimately with them all. “They need to be looked in on; they’re living, breathing things,” she muses. “They need to be taken care of.”

 

At the Auray Cheese Shop (1935A Palmer Ave, Larchmont 914-833-2274), along with all the usual European suspects are raw-milk specialties from Ireland and Wales, and a hard Bavarian cow’s-milk variety, Chiantino, from the Allgau Alps, which Auray co-owner Matthew Peretz says is “fantastic.” Cheese often is a seasonal product, and Peretz’s autumn favorites are the Portuguese vegetal-nuanced Serra and Serpa. You can discover them all right along with him by tuning in to his blog, www.cheeseshopdiaries.blogspot.com, for all-cheese, all-the-time coverage.

 

Mint Premium Foods (18 Main St,
Tarrytown 914-703-6511) doesn’t limit its star power to cheese; its accompaniments are just as seductive. Why let your Italian black-truffle-laden Moliterno fly solo when it can cozy up to a Tuscan honey? Inter-continental sparks will fly when pairing an
Israeli pomegranate jelly with a Spanish sheep’s-milk cheese, promises Mint owner Hassan Jarane. You’ll shed all your cheese-related inhibitions here courtesy of Polish smoked varieties and Argentine provolones, and decorum will vanish completely with Italy’s Ubriaco cheese, which is barrel-soaked in reciotto grapes and translates as “drunk.”

—Diane Weintraub Pohl

 

 

6 Diner Destinations

 

Eldorado West Diner (460 S Broadway/Rte 9, Tarrytown; 914-332-5838). It’s hard to miss this glowing pink-and-turquoise-diner, open 24 hours and right next to the 287 on-ramp. Design your own three-egg omelet for breakfast or indulge in blueberry pancakes. Warm up for a stacked turkey or corned beef sandwich with a pickle and cole slaw. Share a platter of typical bar food nibbles (wings, mozzarella sticks) or a selection of Greek appetizers (stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie). This one is sibling to the Eldorado at 55 Main Street, Elmsford 592-6197.

 

Mamaroneck Diner & Pizza (405 E Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck; 914-698-3564). You can almost see the harbor and marina from behind this modest, homey diner. Greek yogurt with honey and nuts makes a great breakfast and eggs Florentine with crunchy, cubed potatoes will keep you going all day. Love, too, the meatloaf panini, half-pound burgers, fresh fruit smoothies made with yogurt or ice cream, and Tuscan tomato and eggplant soup.

 

Mount Kisco Coach Diner (252 Main St, Mount Kisco; 914-666-5676). When Bill and Hilary wanted to spoof the final Sopranos episode, they headed for the Mount Kisco Diner. Go for the extra-large Greek salads.

 

Mont Olympos Diner (1 Fort Hill Rd, Yonkers; 914-961-4677) rises above Central Avenue on a hill so, if you sit in the right booth, you actually have a view of green trees. Mont Olympos is diner as castle, with a corner turret outside and over-the-top mirrors, chandeliers, and cut-glass panels everywhere. Go for Greek diner classics, such as chicken souvlaki delight and lamb kebab or Jewish deli-style blintzes, lox and bagels.  Many of the entrees are restaurant (as opposed to diner) quality. The breakfasts are great, the coffee is fresh and hot, and the matzoh-ball soup is a meal by itself.

 

The Red Fox Diner (138 Saw Mill River Rd, Elmsford; 914-592-4641) with its small center counter and turquoise leatherette booths), is a smaller, working man’s place, an easy off-easy on from 287W. Go early on weekdays for $2 breakfast specials.

 

Star Diner (66-1/2 E Post Rd, White Plains; 914-684-8702). Squeezed in between two buildings, the tiled and aluminum-clad Star Diner is a tiny, 70-year old classic. The real butter French toast is to die for.

 

—Judith Hausman

 

Short Order

 

Owner and Chef Anthony Goncalves has replaced his highly venerated, more formal eatery, Trotters, with a less-pricey and more casual Iberian restaurant, Peniche Tapas Restaurant (175 Main St, White Plains 914-421-5012). “Trotters had a good ten-year run, but I wanted to challenge myself with something new,” Goncalves says. Peniche pays homage to the foods of Iberia, offering many small plates ($7 to $9) and only five entrées ($17-$24), including fiery monkfish stew and skirt steak with romesco sauce. “A meal won’t necessitate a two hour stay,” Goncalves says.  Goncalves is planning to open a more formal restaurant, tentatively called 42, on the 42nd floor of the  Ritz Carlton Westchester, which is still under construction…

 

The 13,000-square-foot, bi-level space in White Plains that once housed Papa Razzi and the New York Sports Club will next month be the home of Antipasti (One N Broadway, White Plains 914-949-3500; www.antipastiny.com),

a 250-plus seat modern Italian eatery. Co-owner and Katonah resident Mark Anthony Mazzotta says his antipasti bar is an “Italian version of a sushi bar.” Patrons can create their own plates, choosing from 25 items, including house-cured meats, stuffed calamari, eggplant caponata, and caramelized fennel. This will be the fourth restaurant for the Mazzotta Brothers Restaurant Group, which own Pomodoro in Riverside, Connecticut, and Amore in Armonk and Thornwood. “White Plains has become a destination and we are excited to be part of it,” Mazzotta says…

 

Also scheduled to open soon in White Plains, across the street from the City Center, is The Melting Pot (30 Mamaroneck Ave, www.meltingpot.com), a fondue restaurant. This will be the third Melting Pot in the metro area (the other two are in Westwood, New Jersey, and Darien, Connecticut). A three-course fondue tasting for two will cost approximately $67 and a four-course about $100. Entrées range from $18 to $28…

 

Taking a cue from Manhattan’s famous burger joint Shake Shack, Kory Wollins, a former caterer, has opened Burgers, Shakes, and Fries (302 Delavan Ave, Greenwich, CT 203-531-7433; www.burgershskaesnfries.com). Wollins slips one-third pound burgers between white bread that he heats on a griddle with butter (yummy!). Just like Shack Shake, there’s limited seating (15), counter service only, and killer shakes (try the daily special flavors such as coffee, cinnamon, and Neapolitan)…

 

Ginza Japanese Restaurant (83 E Main St, Elmsford 914-789-5001) has opened in the place of Japanese-Korean eatery Okidoki. Sushi and sashimi dominate the menu with a smattering of teriyaki and noodle offerings. Most entrées fall between $15 and $20…

 

Michael Schmutzer has been hired as the new executive chef at Doral Arrowwood (975 Anderson Hill Rd, Rye Brook 914-935-6600; www.doralarrowwood.com). Schmutzer, a native of Austria, was previously executive sous chef at Abigail Kirsch Catering in Tarrytown. He replaces James Gambardella, who was promoted to director of Food and Beverage…

 

LesserEvil (www.lesserevil.com), the Tuckahoe-based wholesale snack-food company whose products are sold nationally, has opened its first retail location (93 Lake Ave, Tuckahoe 914-779-3000) in the space that once occupied children’s indoor playground Locomotion. LesserEvil’s snack foods, which are free of trans-fats, preservatives, artificial flavors, and gluten, include Kettle Corn (sweetened popcorn in various flavors) and Krinkle Sticks (potato-stick snacks in various flavors)…

 

Anna Shea Chocolates of Tarrytown and Katonah is opening a third store in Rye (12 Purchase St, 914-301-5624), having taken over the space of the now-defunct Reimer Kitchens…

 

 5 Spoke Creamery (Port Chester 914-934-1649; www.5spokecreamery.com), a purveyor of small-batch cheeses made from raw grass-fed cow’s milk, is planning to open a working farm in Westchester next spring. 5 Spoke’s Owner and Rye Brook resident Alan J. Glustoff currently travels once a month to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to produce his cheeses but will phase out these excursions once his Westchester farm is ready. “Raw milk boosts the immune system because it contains beneficial bacteria,” says Glustoff, who has a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from the University of Illinois and has worked in research for major food corporations. “Plus, raw-milk cheeses have richer flavor and textures.”

 

Concerned about eating an unpasteurized product? “The aging process kills any pathogenic bacteria in raw milk,” assures Glustoff, who reports there is a 60-day minimum aging rule for producing raw-milk cheeses. 5 Spoke Creamery cheeses, which include smooth and buttery Redmond Cheddar and the mild Red Vine Colby, can be purchased (approximately $15.50/lb) at all Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets, Whole Foods Market in White Plains, Sgaglio’s Marketplace in Katonah, Morton Williams in Hartsdale, and Porricelli’s Food Mart in Greenwich and Cos Cob, Connecticut, as well as through the company’s website…

 

The Katonah Grill (128 Bedford Rd, Katonah 914-232-0946) is offering diners a $10 gift certificate for every $200 spent dining there.