Table Hopping with Morris Gut
I have had many fine culinary encounters in 2021. Here is a short list of favorite dishes and dining venues you should try not miss in the coming year!
TITILLATING FLAVORS AT MARIA, NEW ROCHELLE!
Two-time winners of Michelin’s prestigious ‘Bib Gourmet’ Award, brothers Peter and Giovanni Cucullo have been causing a stir in New Rochelle, drawing patronage from all over the county to their flavorful riff on Italian/global cooking. Named after Mother, Maria’s has become almost a regular haunt for me. Love their happy hours from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. when they offer some favorite beverages and small plates that are loaded with flavor. I am hooked on such eclectic dishes as: Glazed Pork Ribs, Truffled Green Beans, Grilled Sausage with sweet & spicy Peruvian peppers, Mom’s Meatballs, Cauliflower Fritters, and Roasted Shishito Peppers. Special mention must go to their tender baby Lamb Chops. Nice dining room and bar filled with artifacts from home. Friendly staff, too. Good networking spot. The family also operates bustling Fratelli’s Pizza and Pops Café next door. Maria, 11 Huguenot St., New Rochelle. Take-out & delivery. Closed Sundays. 914-636-0006 www.marianewrochelle.com
BACCALA AT TRATTORIA VIVOLO, HARRISON!
Seasonal Baccala, also referred to as ‘salt cod’, is a traditional staple in many ethnic kitchens especially during holiday season. Chef-owner Dean Vivolo of Trattoria Vivolo prepares several versions, and one of my favorites is Baccala Salad. It is delish! Vivolo also prepares it fried, or in a stew with potatoes. His Paglia e Fieno con Funghi, was also incredibly flavorful with its mix of mushroom ragu, scallions, crispy prosciutto, and pecorino cheese. We enjoyed it with a side of tender Broccoi Rape. Chef 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; Rabbit Cacciatore; Crostino di Polenta, topped with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola, and tomato sauce; Lasagna Bolognese al Forno; Osso Buco, tender braised veal shank; occasional Roasted Porchetta. Good wine list. Sparkling lights evenings. Open 7 days. Free parking. Trattoria Vivolo, 301 Halstead Ave., Harrison. 914-835-6199 www.trattoriavivolo.com
ARTISANAL PIES AT GUSTO PIZZA, LARCHMONT!
David Masliah and Chef Erwen Perez of Encore have opened an artisanal pizza shop next to their popular bistro. One taste of their pies and your palate will fly off to foodie heaven. The imported woodburning pizza oven is named Victor, after David’s father, who was a pizzaioli in France for many years. Wines by the glass, appetizers, salads, and such delish individual sized pizzas as the Margherita, tomato, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil; or the Pancetta, tomato, pancetta, crème fraiche, onion, and mozzarella. Start with a bright Caesar Salad. Cozy and colorful setting. Open 7 days for lunch & dinner. Gusto Pizza, 18 Chatsworth Ave., Larchmont. 914-881-3466 www.gustopizzany.com
IRISH AMERICAN AT JACK’S BAR, EASTCHESTER!
Marking their first year, Jack’s is the new kid on the block, and a darn good one, too. Owner Shane Clifford and his staff have been drawing a fine crowd. The space has been totally remodeled and offers an enhanced Irish/American tavern menu on steroids. The best way to describe it. Generous specialties coming out of Chef Brendan Donohoe’s kitchen include a refreshing Harvest Green Salad; Double-Stacked Smash Burger; decadent Short Rib Mac N’ Cheese; Jack’s Meatballs; Seared Scallops; Chicken Curry; Shroom Pizza out of their woodfired oven; Berkshire Pork Chop; and Grilled Lamb Sliders. The staff could not be more friendly. Open daily. Indoor & outdoor seating. TVs. Municipal parking; free evenings. Jack’s Bar, 219 Main St., Eastchester. 914-652-7650 www.jackseastchester.com
FOGO DE CHAO BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE, WHITE PLAINS!
After major renovation to the landmark Bank of New York building on Main & Church Streets in White Plains, Fogo De Chao, a major Brazilian Steakhouse chain with 40 restaurants across the U.S., Middle East, Brazil & Mexico, premiered in this sprawling space as a flashy churrascaria BBQ. It is a sparkling spot for drinks, giant Market Table salad bar, and waves of fire-roasted meats served on skewers in the churrasco style. If you have never experienced this type of dining concept, get ready and make sure you are hungry. Additions to the traditional meat offerings include, a fresh daily seafood selection, a variety of fresh-made salads, and a dramatic bar/lounge area that serves Happy Hour all day, 7 days a week. Bar menu. There is also a butcher shop on the premises for take-home. Fogo de Chao is located at 235 Main Street, White Plains. www.fogodechao.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)