The Westchester County seat is a city of about 60,000 residents that swells to more than 200,000 during the workday. It should come as no surprise, then, that there is a plethora of meet-for-a-bite-at-the-bar-after-work eateries. Add in high walkability and cuisine-diversity scores, and you have one exciting foodie town.
Panini and Pinsa
At chef-owner Tony Spiritoso’s endearing Southern Italian La Bocca on Church Street, there are hunger-inducing sights at the bar: an Italian-made cured-meat slicer, long plates of briny olives, glistening stands of tomatoes displayed like miniature gemstones. In 2018, it became the first and only restaurant in Westchester to receive an Ospitalità Italiana certification, indicating that a high percentage of the ingredients and wines are designation-certified. Hitting that mark on the well-priced bar menu is Calabrese soppressata, Tuscan salami, pecorino from the small coastal Calabrian village of Crotone, and a host of panini (order the mortadella and provolone). Go on the right day, and there may be a long wooden board on the bar with a slow-cooked whole-roasted pig staring back you.
The pasta bar at Roman-inspired TVB By: Pax Romana is Italian culinary theater of sorts, where patrons can watch Giovanna Runco (Nonna to two of the owners) make spaghetti, penne, cavatelli, and more. After you down a bowl of cavatelli with house-made sausage and garlicky broccoli rabe, save a bit of your appetite for one of their pinsa Romana-style pizzas, made with a soy-wheat-rice-combo flour that results in a light, airy crust.
Mediterraneo is a showcase space, including its bar.
photo courtesy of Mediterraneo
Classy, Sexy Vibes
Want a bar-dining experience that’s the opposite of the numerous Miller Lite-and-wings-serving pubs along Mamaroneck Avenue? The BLT Steak bar, on the first floor of The Ritz-Carlton, offers fun house cocktails, craft beers on tap, (like Allagash White), and 24 wines-by-the-glass. Pair a Fuzzy Monkey (Russian Standard vodka, rum, peach liquor, pineapple, and OJ) with a sextet of slurp-worthy Baja Kumamotos oysters and Hipster Fries (shishitos, beef jerky, Parmesan), and your evening will be off to a good a start. Heck, make a fashionable bar crawl out of it by heading across the street to the Manhattan-esque Mediterraneo for tender, slightly charred Spanish octopus and a smoked prosciutto and Gorgonzola pizza. From there, it’s a block and a half down Mamaroneck Avenue to Modern Japanese Ichiro, where you can choose among 24 special rolls (e.g., the White Plains with white fish tempura and avocado topped by Cajun white tuna and black caviar).
For Day-Sleeper Diners
Do you start your day with a noon breakfast and think sunlight is overrated? White Plains has a Puerto Rican hotspot to feed your inner night owl. Open until 2 a.m. Thursdays and 3:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, a seat at the Miami-club-scene-inspired Don Coqui’s long bar will grant you sightlines to much of the action (e.g., karaoke Tuesdays, salsa dancing and lessons on Thursdays). An appetizer platter (including crispy pork, coconut shrimp, empanadas, sweet plantains stuffed with beef and cheese, and more) matched with a fresh-fruit-juice punch or frozen cocktail (or two) should be liquid courage enough to have you jumping into whatever the lounge floor action is that evening.
A block or so down is Mamaroneck Avenue’s restaurant-bar hybrid (of which there are many) with the strongest kitchen offerings, Hudson Grille. The low-lit interior has a large, horseshoe-shaped bar (open until at least midnight daily) offering lots of good beer, including a properly poured Guinness, plus plenty of shareable plates (Blue Hill Bay mussels in coconut milk with grilled bread and a right-on spinach-and-artichoke dip) and a winning pepper-crusted sliced steak sandwich.
Behind the marble bar at Kee Oyster House is a sparkling display of raw-bar offerings.
Photo courtesy of Kee Oyster House
Some Like It Raw
What’s a good foodie town without a raw bar (or two)? In a style reminiscent of Old New York, with lots of white subway tiles and nattily uniformed barmen (including a shucker) behind the marble bar, Kee Oyster House, on East Post Road, offers sparkling fresh clams on the half shell; shrimp, crabmeat, or lobster cocktail; a variety of East and West Coast oysters; scallops sashimi; and indulgent, wallet-busting towers of dang-near all of the above. Pair it with a quaff from the beverage program’s highlights: 20 single-malt Scotches, 20 bourbons, and seven craft beers on draft.
Back on Mamaroneck Avenue, the 30-seat bar at Lilly’s is a chill hangout, where the ’80s and ’90s music playing is just loud enough so as to not to squelch convivial banter. The bistro has ocean-fresh $1 oysters (minimum of six) and $5 draft beers, wines, and special cocktails (Mon-Fri, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.) at the bar only.