Fig & Olive’s lasagna with pesto ricotta
Let’s be honest: finding vegetarian food in Westchester isn’t always easy. But slowly, more and more meatless entrées are edging out other menu options. Certainly, the carnivores and herbivores of our great county can find something to love—at restaurants that cater to both tastes. Here, a selection of great eats, no matter your preference.
Jennifer O’Connell, owner of the Cupcake Kitchen & Luncheonette (100 Main St, Irvington 914-231-6261), is a vegetarian, and her menu reflects that: a simple smattering of sandwiches, salads, and grilled items (even a veggie burger over greens). She’s also big into kid-pleasers like peanut butter and bananas. Of course, the desserts are big draws (hence the eatery’s name), with charming pastel-colored cupcakes that can’t help but make you smile.
A selection of Mediterranean delicacies tempt your palate at Eliá Taverna (502 New Rochelle Rd, Bronxville 914-663-4976), where the starters can be meals in themselves. There is tzatziki with yogurt, cucumber, and garlic dip; a roasted eggplant dip called melitzanosalata; and, of course, hummus, the famous chickpea dip that goes great with anything (though I never tire of warm pita). There is also a gorgeously presented assorted hot vegetable platter featuring grilled veggies served with skordalia; grilled sweet peppers stuffed with feta; and homemade stuffed grape leaves with rice, fresh dill, and lemon.
A large variety of noodle dishes is what makes East Harbor (1560 Central Ave, Yonkers 914-961-0100) so vegetarian-friendly. Opt for whole baby eggplant steamed in a hot and spicy sesame sauce or bok choy with tomato, tofu, and black mushrooms in a light brown garlic sauce served on a hot, sizzling iron.
The zucchini carpaccio at the new butter-free (olive oil only) Mediterranean restaurant Fig & Olive Westchester (696 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale 914-725-2900) is the perfect starter to any meal: thinly sliced zucchini finished with Picholine olive oil, fresh lemon juice, pine nuts, and Parmesan. Equally delicious is the Provençe vegetable and burrata platter of burrata, tomato, balsamic, arugula, black olive, zucchini, and bell pepper served with pesto ricotta dip and basil olive oil. And the list goes on: fig Gorgonzola tartlet; penne with cremini mushroom, Parmesan, black truffle paste, and white truffle olive oil; and the mushroom and truffle soup.
A bunch of sides can make a meal at bartaco (1 Willett Ave, Port Chester 914-937-8226), though, if you’re one of those pseudo-vegetarians who eat fish (aka pescatarian), you’ll want to try one of the tacos such as red snapper à la plancha, baja fish, or Thai shrimp. There’s also a really lovely—dare I say meaty?—portobello mushroom with Mexican queso fresco (mild, soft, and creamy white cheese). Sides include grilled corn, zucchini à la plancha, and crunchy cucumber salad, but it’s the polished cocktails—try the pisco guava or the signature margarita flavored with agave nectar and orange peel—that make this place a happening spot.
There’s an abundance of vegetable selections at Hunan Village II (222 E Hartsdale Ave, Hartsdale 914-472-3838), where you’ll find sautéed snow-pea leaves, eggplant with garlic sauce, braised tofu with spinach, and sake-braised four-flavored mushroom, along with a host of other top-notch Chinese specialties, including dim sum. I like that you can choose your method of cooking: steamed, sautéed, pan-fried, or crispy.
All of the food at Jolo’s Kitchen (412 North Ave, New Rochelle 914-355-2527) is vegan, meaning “meat” dishes are soy or mushroom-based. Sandwiches like the “spare ribs” Philly-style are served with lettuce, tomato, and onions on whole wheat bread topped with oats, and there’s always organic ketchup, vegan mayo, mustard, and/or hummus to complete the sandwiches. Sweet tooths can be satisfied by brownies, carrot cake, or banana cake made without eggs or milk. There’s also an extensive juice bar menu with shots of wheatgrass, ginger root, spinach, and ginseng, as well as a Jamaican vibe (dig the Bob Marley tunes and other relaxing music playing continuously) that can’t help but make you happy, mon.
If you’re a fan of Indian food, you’ll love the thoughtfully prepared dishes at Masala Kraft Café (206 E Hartsdale Ave, Hartsdale 914-722-4300), where the entire menu is vegetarian. Perhaps you’re in the mood for masala dosa, a crispy rice crêpe with spiced mashed potatoes, or chana Bhatura, a savory chickpea curry in a tomato-and-onion gravy served with warm puffed Indian bread.
A large following and requests for more space are two reasons Myong Private Label Gourmet (487 Main St, Mount Kisco 914-241-6333) chose to expand to its new Main Street location. The other reason? A pure pleasure to serve Korean-born Myong’s “New World cuisine”—basically a combination of Pan-Asian, Korean, and traditional European food. Everything is made fresh on the premises: Asian coleslaw, bok choy salad, veggie cellophane wraps, tofu medleys, plus thick, delicious smoothies made with organic yogurt. Myong also specializes in vegetarian and gluten-free catering.
Fig & Olive’s salad of hearts of romaine, mesclun, fig, apple, and Manchego and dolce Gorgonzola cheeses
At Open Table Kosher (33 Mill Rd, Eastchester 914-361-1822), you’ll find a long list of entrées with hummus “brought back from Grandma’s house.” This Israeli diner may be modest in décor, but it more than makes up for its simplicity with its authentic food (the chef hails from Jerusalem). We also like the restaurant’s sense of humor. Its menu is divided into sections labeled “Good
Morning, Wake Up,” “O My Burger” (including a veggie burger), “Fry Me to the Moon,” and “So Deli-licious” (including falafel
and veggie wraps). There’s a large number of vegetarian crêpes, soups, and salads at Rue des Crêpes (261 Halstead Ave, Harrison 914-315-1631) to easily suit your meat-free needs. Some favorites: the goat cheese and leek crêpe and a tasty wild-mushroom crêpe served with sautéed shallots, tarragon, and white wine. In addition, there are many desserts, like a banana Nutella crêpe and a cinnamon-apple crêpe with granola, brown sugar, and dried cranberries.
Steamed dumplings made with tofu, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and soy vinaigrette is one of the specialties at Thai House (466 Ashford Ave, Ardsley 914-674-6633), where more than 20 vegetarian options make it hard to choose just one. Expect a colorful assembly of choices featuring tangy rice noodles, fried and sliced tofu, broccoli, onions, bean sprouts, cucumber, crushed peanuts, and shredded carrots, all of which can be tailored to spiciness comfort levels.
You’ll find authentic Turkish food at Turkish Meze (409 Mount Pleasant Ave, Mamaroneck 914-777-3042), where you can start your meal with a hearty bowl of lentil soup or zucchini pancakes before moving onto a white-bean salad or a Mediterranean salad of fresh lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers topped with feta cheese, artichokes, and an olive oil and lemon dressing. For an entrée, try the vegetable casserole or the mixed cold appetizer plate (hummus, eggplant salad, and yogurt mixed with walnuts, fried eggplant, and bulgur salad). Find room for dessert: a creamy rice pudding or a baklava baked pear.
The vegetarian-leaning Wobble Café (21 Campwoods Rd, Ossining 914-762-3459) is known for its customized sandwiches on a variety of healthy breads, though I’m a sucker for their delightful Vermonster (apples, arugula, and cheddar with maple-garlic aioli). Another favorite: the Capri panini (fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, and basil vinaigrette). Special requests are the norm here. The café’s menu reads: “If you don’t see what you’re in the mood for, please ask and we will try to accommodate.”
In a rush? Try these take-out options for great vegetarian at home.
Andy’s Pure Food (46 Purchase St, Rye 914-967-2332) You can create your own salads and smoothies at Andy’s Pure Food, which also offers a long list of vegetable sandwiches (think pepper spread and sun-dried tomato, and vegan cheese) and vegan sprouted wraps.
Nevaeh Cuisine (146 Bedford Road, Pleasantville 914-495-3440) This small café—“heaven” spelled backwards—specializes in “healthy global foods.” In other words, items that are gluten- and peanut-free. There is a small number of indoor and outdoor tables and a long list of specialty wraps (sesame lentil dahl); panini (grilled veggie and goat cheese); cheese quesadillas; soups (Greek potato, roasted corn chowder); and smoothies.
Larchmont writer Jeanne Muchnick admits she didn’t eat many veggies as a kid. Today, the author of Dinner for Busy Moms eats tons of green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and corn.