Using industry knowledge from his family’s restaurants, mixed in with years working under Michelin-starred chefs in Italy, and a dash of his own personal style, Giovanni Abbate has opened Dolphin South in Pleasantville. The name is a nod to his parents’ Blue Dolphin in Katonah, a neighborhood institution for more than 30 years.
“My first job was washing glasses in the kitchen there,” says Abbate, who later got an associate’s degree at the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating, Abbate decided he wanted to cook in the birthplace of Italian food, going first to Modena, and then on to Milan.
Upon returning home, Abbate went to work at Blue Dolphin and at his uncle’s restaurant, Le Fontane in Katonah. (He also spent time working in Manhattan.) In 2018, he decided to look for his own place. “I saw that Pleasantville was up-and-coming; there are a number of great restaurants here,” Abbate says.
Dolphin South has seating for approximately 40 at tables, and 10 more can dine at the expansive bar. (Right now it’s BYOB.) The restaurant has clean lines: There are whitewashed brick walls displaying photos of Italy, Edison-bulb lighting, and wood floors. Abbate has also kept the menu spare — but with a purpose. “I want customers to engage with me and our servers in talking about what they want to eat. We’re happy to change a dish around,” he says, noting that they’ve had a customer create their own dish, which was then added to the menu as a special.
We dined on two diner-favorite dishes: fried ravioli with a fresh tomato-basil sauce and grilled vegetables, charred and accompanied by a white bean purée and romesco sauce. We also relished Abbate’s take on a burrata salad, in which the burrata is stuffed with pesto sauce, and the fried calamari served with an arugula salad and grilled peppers. For entrées, the spaghetti cacio e pepe was deliciously creamy, and perfectly seared scallops came with pancetta and peas. Dessert was a special — a great pineapple pie.
Since the restaurant opened at the end of September, Abbate is still introducing new items. “The menu will always have that balance between the famous Italian food that grandma used to make and some healthy, newer approaches,” he says.
39 Wheeler Ave
Curious for more insight into everything from weddings and local business happenings to golf and hearty Westchester eating? Surf through all of our daily blogs.