Table Hopping with Morris Gut
Amore! The coupling of good food and wine with the sensual is the aphrodisiac of literature and verse through the ages. Pucker up! Valentine’s Day is Monday, Feb. 14th. Warm things up a bit, make a whole weekend out of it! Restaurants and nightspots throughout Westchester are gearing up to serve some of their most titillating specialties. Here is an eclectic round-up of delectable dishes and dining venues for you and your loved one and don’t forget to reserve early…FOLLOW CURRENT COVID PROTOCOLS AND STAY SAFE!
ROBUST ITALIAN OUT OF A DINER AT
Chef-owner Dean Vivolo and his friendly staff are on top of their game. His robust regional Italian cuisine is served out of a restored diner just across from Harrison’s Metro-North station. Sit at the counter, tuck into a booth, or take a table in the rear greenhouse and enjoy the surprising contemporary and traditional flavors emanating from his kitchen: tasty thin-crusted pizza; fresh old-fashioned Meatballs and Sausage; Crostino di Polenta, topped with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola, and tomato sauce; Paglia e Fieno; Lasagna Bolognese al Forno; Italian Stir-Fry; Osso Buco, tender braised veal shank; occasional Roasted Porchetta. Good wine list. Sparkling lights evenings. Closed Mondays. Free parking. Trattoria Vivolo, 301 Halstead Ave., Harrison. 914-835-6199 www.trattoriavivolo.com
ROMANCE BY THE FIREPLACE AT
This high-end Italian steakhouse with locations in Pelham and Armonk just premiered a 3rd. location in Greenwich/Byram offering classic cuts of prime beef and chops along with a hearty helping of Italian/American specialties. Tony Lala and his crew will take good care of you. Be seated in the handsomely renovated dining room with its warming stone hearth, or bar/lounge and peruse the menu over a good glass of wine. Diver Scallops, Steak Tartare, slabs of Canadian Bacon, Spaghetti Carbonara, Pappardelle with Short Rib Ragu, Zuppa di Pesce, even a Classic Burger. Carnivores should consider the Lamb Chops, Veal Chop, New York Strip Steak, or Porterhouse for two. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner. Macelleria, 2 South Water St., Greenwich. 203-531-7050 www.macelleriaitaliansteakhouse.com
SOUTHERN COMFORT AT FREEBIRD!
I have been enjoying my visits to Freebird Kitchen & Bar this past year. We have devoured Fried Calamari, meaty Racks of Baby Back Ribs, Cobb Salad, spicy Chicken Wings, crispy Brussels Sprouts. Shrimp & Grits and Braised Short Ribs, too. The cooking here is very satisfying, and all done with a friendly southern theme. Portions are ample and shareable. The lighting and those artsy birds hanging from the ceiling in the dining room give it a magical atmosphere. There is a seasonal rooftop. Sunday Night Jam sessions. Sprawling bar. Craft beers. Happy hours: Tues.-Thurs. 4-6pm; Fri. 2-6 p.m. Weekend Brunch. Closed Mondays. Freebird, 161 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. 914-607-2476 www.freebirdkitchenandbar.com
ROMEO & JULIET AT MAGNO’S GRILL!
It’s a special Surf & Turf for Valentine’s: Filet Mignon w portobello, Port wine sauce & Lobster Tail stuffed with crabmeat, shrimp, scallops in scampi sauce. This talented group also serves Jurassic Tomahawk Steaks, and a fine version of Parrillada, hearty mixed grill with chimichurri sauce. Chef/owner Angelo Magno, formerly of Tango Grill, opened his own 60-seat spot featuring fine versions of Italian and Argentinean classics. Look for such house specialties as: fresh Empanadas, Chicken or Veal Parmigiana, hearty Paella, and hefty Pork Osso Buco. Cocktail bar. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Municipal parking nearby. Reservations accepted. Magno’s Grill, 108 Centre Ave., New Rochelle. 914-235-0008 www.magnosgrill.com
COCKTAILS & A VIEW AT LA PICCOLA CASA!
Thru the years Chef Walter Ricci worked many popular kitchens in greater Westchester including the former Umberto’s in Rye and Giorgio’s in Port Chester. The restaurant is housed in the landmark DeLancey House where author James Fenimore Cooper lived for a time across from scenic Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck. Walter will be serving his new updated menu featuring many of his well-known specialties: Italian classics with concentration on the finest ingredients. There’s terrific Baked Clams, Seafood Pasta, and Rack of Lamb. Pastas are terrific, especially with seafood. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. Free street parking. Reservations accepted. La Piccola Casa, 410 W. Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck. Phone: 914-777-3766.
DINE PARISIENNE-STYLE AT ENCORE BISTRO!
One of my favorite French eateries is bustling Encore Bistro in Larchmont where proprietor David Masliah and Chef Erwin Perez serve such hearty bistro favorites as: delicious Tartin de Tomates, Moules Provencales, a fabulous Salade Parisienne, along with St. Jacques au buerre blance and Steak Frites as a main course. (It’s hard to stay away from their rendition sweetbreads!) Plates du Jour, too. Great French fries here, the real thing! For dessert there are classic versions of Tarte Tatin and Profiteroles. Great deal: there is a 3-course lunch for $19.50 served Monday thru Saturday. Open 7 days for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Cozy bar. Encore, 22 Chatsworth Ave., Larchmont. 914-833-1661 www.encore-bistro.com
ARCHIE GRAND OPENS IN WHITE PLAINS!
It has been in the works for months, Archie Grand, a 130-seat chef-driven ‘New American’ restaurant has opened on Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains in the former James Joyce space. It is owned by seasoned hospitality veterans Vincent Ninzatti, and Brazen Fox owners Declan Rainsford and Rory Dolan. Dolan also owns the highly popular Rory Dolan’s on McLean Ave. in Yonkers. Took a sneak peek recently and the design and décor were quite dramatic. I would be willing to bet there will also be a touch of the Irish in the premises, too. At this writing, they were open for cocktails starting at 5 p.m. It is located next door to Cantina Taco & Tequila. More on this shortly. Archie Grand, 166A Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. www.archiegrandwp.com
(Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)