First Taste: Burrata in Eastchester; Armonk’s Restaurant North Gets Its Slow Food Snail of Approval; and Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Hits March 18th–31st

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It was a rocky opening. For a few weeks in fall and winter, I’d see a sign off Route 22 that read, “Hearth Wood Fired Pizza,” and I knew it was  one doomed piece of architectural embellishment. Marco Canora and Paul Grieco (of Manhattan’s famous Hearth) would soon have a bone to pick, and, lo, up went the new sign that now reads “Burrata Wood Fired Pizza.”

But isn’t burrata and pizza weird, too? Burrata–a type of cheese made by enveloping fresh mozzarella curds in a pocket of stretched fior di latte—is rarely served cooked because there’s very little point. Burrata’s appeal lies in its Freshen-up gum quality, the firm skin’s resistance yielding to the milky ooze of curds. Once burrata is cooked, really, all you have is mozzarella.

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Walking into Burrata, we were pleasantly surprised by the vibe. Burrata is a small, pleasant looking place in tones of dove gray and white, with a homey, tiled bar floor and a prominent, gold-tiled, wood-burning Ferrara pizza oven. If you have to wait (which often you will: Burrata is new and rather buzzy), you can console yourself with a delicious Negroni (Beefeater gin, Carpano Antica, and Campari – sadly served on the rocks) or a bottle of nutty/malty Italian Menabrea Ambrata beer. Wines are another smart option. Though the list is a focused 17 bottles ($32-$72), all but two of those vintages are available by the glass, which go for $10-$17. Burrata is a nice place to sip around, and we liked a light Masi Verduzzo ’10 for $10.

We skipped the appealing salumi and formaggi board, which marked the first menu sight of burrata. Normally, I’d have gone for the mortadella, coppa, prosciutto and sopressata (a weakness), but I knew that pizza was in my future. I hit the namesake burrata as an antipasto, hoping to see what it was like before it hit that oven. It was served as “crema,” curds in a bowl (sans mozzarella wrapper), with sea salt, black pepper, fresh basil and crostini. There were a few problems with this dish, but, then again, when we visited, Burrata was all of two weeks old. I hope that in future they’ll get a better crunch on their sodden garlic buttery toasts, and maybe strive to season those overly chilled curds more aggressively. Seasoning was also uneven on a giant frisée salad whose pancetta lardons and watery (and not quite fully reheated) poached egg couldn’t adequately punctuate all those greens.

Thankfully, pizzas were better. They arrive in smallish personal rounds with a fluffy/briny/tender crust amply dotted with tasty char. I order Burrata’s “Burrata” ($18, with wild mushrooms, garlic, chili, Parmigiano, and porcini oil) and there it was: cooked burrata in deep white pools, virtually indistinguishable from mozzarella. Still, the chili and wild mushrooms gave the ample dairy some lift, and the other pie that we ordered, “Prosciutto” (mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and arugula), was even better. The crust held up nicely to its classic (and classically delicious) toppings.

To finish, a crunchy cannolo filled with a wonderfully light, almost un-cheesy, ricotta cream made an excellent dessert. Sure, there were a few slips, but given Burrata’s youth, they’re all understandable and survivable. We’re looking forward to checking back in when Burrata has its sea legs.

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Burrata Wood Fired Pizza
425 White Plains Rd, Eastchester
(914) 337-3700;

HotDate: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

Have you also noticed a slowing down of local restaurant events? Guess what, kids? They’re all hunkering down for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. Catching up with Restaurant North’s Stephen Paul Mancini, (see below), he informed me that his preparations included the purchase of an entire steer from Meiller’s Farm in Pine Plains, NY. Chef Eric Gabrynowicz and Mancini are battening down the hatches and sharpening their knives for what will be their busiest weeks all year. According to a recent announcement, HVRW has amassed almost 200 participating restaurants this year, and all are offering lunches for $20.95 and dinners for $29.95. Check here for a list of participating restaurants and any possible weekend exclusion. Remember: tip well (and get your dialing fingers limber)!


HotFlash: Restaurant North Gets a Slow Food Snail of Approval!

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Some travelers use the Michelin Guide, some use Zagat, but I know that when I’m in Italy, I’m dining according to Slow Food’s guides. The restaurants that the Editore deem worthy of the naïve red snail logo exemplify everything in food “that is good, clean and fair.” More selfishly, I also know that Snail-awardees are among the very best restaurants in Italy.

So, as Slow Food fans, we felt lucky to be invited to witness Restaurant North’s receipt of a coveted Snail of Approval by Mimi Edelman of Slow Food Metro North. It was only a matter of time, of course, as one peek of North’s menu will show; since the day that they opened North, Stephen Paul Mancini and Eric Gabrynowicz have supported local farms. But almost more important, they’ve done it in style, showing Westchester diners the beauty of food raised under their feet. Restaurant North has joined The Farmhouse at Bedford Post Inn, Peter Pratt’s, and Arrosto in what has become, since the demise of The Flying Pig, Westchester’s rarefied quartet of Slow-Food-approved restaurants.

Slow Food Metro North Co-Chairs Kathryn Dysart (left) and Mimi Edelman (far right) award the coveted Snail to North’s owners, Stephen Paul Mancini (center left) and Chef Eric Gabrynowicz (center right)


Baccalà Montecato at Tarry Lodge

You know those cricket bats of rather stinky, dried cod that you find stacked in bins in old-fashioned Italian markets?  Don’t be a hater until you’ve tried this dish. After a long soaking in oft-changed water (and a gentle poaching), the cod is whipped with cooked potatoes, cream, and extra virgin olive oil until it assumes the melt-on-the-tongue texture of butter. Sure, it still tastes ever so slightly of the sea, but only in the best way: this delicious peasant dish is one of our favorite Tarry Lodge treats.

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