Snuggle up in the Heavenly Cheese Wheel Pasta at Sapori

Walking into the sleekly designed, 100-seat Sapori, which debuted in Scarsdale’s center village of Tudor-style buildings in 2019, the contemporary digs belie the menu of classic Italian dishes. While Chef Marco Zuccala’s menu is far from the typical red sauce, Italian American fare (to which there is an overabundance in the county), it’s also not adventuresome neo-Italian.

Instead, just as its older sibling in White Plains (open since 2013), the dishes are timeless renditions that can be traced back to various regions around the boot, and even some broader Mediterranean selections.     

Photos here and below by John Bruno Turiano

There is burrata ravioli, farfalle limoncello with shrimp, black ink tagliolini (a special), and many other pastas that might change daily; chicken breast in a wild mushroom infused brandy sauce; filet mignon au poivre, and scallopini saltimbocca.    

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Among the most popular dishes however are ones produced using the mobile carts that are brought tableside, where typically one of partners (Eddie Vucetaj, or either Uncle Kenny or Sammy Balidemaj) prepares a plate with some fun showmanship; dover sole and branzino are fileted and deboned before the customer, strawberries flambéed, custardy zabaglione whisked until silky.

Fire-grilled octopus with cherry tomatoes and lemon.

The pinnacle of the restaurant’s tableside theatrics however is based on an old-world tradition from Italy called dalla forma: the process of mixing freshly cooked pasta in a full round of (usually) Parmigiano-Reggiano partially hollowed out into a bowl. The cheese is lit on fire — with the aid of a pour of brandy — to induce melting and then scraped inside the wheel so it melts when the hot pasta is mixed in.

The version I had at Sapori was cacio e pepe, a poor man’s dish from Rome that translates as “cheese and pepper.” It’s one of the simplest yet most flavorful pasta dishes, one where cheese is the central source of texture and flavor, thus it seems obvious to sink it in a melting wheel of heavenly Parmigiano-Reggiano

The simple Roman dish, cacio e pepe, or cheese and pepper, is served via the cheese wheel.

“Diners are more educated and have a better understanding what quality food is,” says Vucetaj. “Restaurants are popping up all over the place, and competition is fierce. If you want to stay in business, you have to be good.”

Oh, you are good Eddie. Just keep doing that cheese wheel right (though the downside is customers may not want to try other dishes!) as you have created a must-try Westchester pasta experience. A number of county restaurants have their own cheese wheel, but Sapori’s may be the most luscious I’ve tasted.   

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All desserts, like this tiramisu, are made in-house.

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