Westchester benefits from its proximity to the world’s food mecca, NYC, with a steady stream of influences (i.e., industry talent, gastronomic trends and movements, cuisine diversity, etc.) motivating the forks, knives, and spoons of many locals here at home.
And if one town is going to serve as a microcosm of the county’s culinary richness, it would have to be the 12,000-person Hudson River village of Tarrytown. Here are some reasons why:
Farm-to-table, farm-to-fork, tide-to-table, pasture-to-plate… there are many monikers for the industry practice of using locally sourced ingredients (and subsequently listing said sources on menus and websites for all to behold).
The Twisted Oak, with a daily-changing menu by Chef Michael Cutney, is a prime exemplar of strict adherence to the locally sourced, sustainable-dining model, using ingredients from such Hudson Valley purveyors as Blooming Hill Farm, Battenkill Creamery, Sprout Cream Farm, and John Fazio Farms. Plates of gussied-up rustic Italian fare (duck lasagna, handmade tonnarelli with ramps and pecorino, roasted Amish farm chicken) are what to expect.
Aged cheddar from the Adirondack Cheese Co. goes on RiverMarket’s cheddar-and-mushroom omelet.
Photo courtesy of RiverMarket
Sweet Grass Grill, ERL Hospitality Group’s casual New American joint, counts relationships to more than a dozen farms (e.g., Stone Barns Center, Hilltop Hanover, Ryder Farm), and rustically refined RiverMarket Bar & Kitchen (purchase a bottle of Crown Maple syrup or NYS farmstead cheese from the front market while waiting for your Hudson Valley duck breast grain bowl), are two additional worthy village-dining destinations that check off all the requisite local/sustainable boxes.
Name a cuisine, and our county likely has an authentic representative. In Tarrytown, culinary diversity can be found in spades at the eclectic Mint Premium Foods, owner Hassan Jarane’s hybrid gourmet-food shop (the front) and world-cuisine restaurant (the rear). The menu is a hodgepodge of American classics (baby back ribs, jambalaya) and international plates, such as Moroccan free-range chicken with saffron orzo, panzanella salad, warmed tuna niçoise topped with a fried egg and caviar, mussels à la romesco, and swordfish in a Jamaican jerk sauce.
The Taco Project’s steak burrito bowl.
Photo courtesy of the Taco Project
The market can quickly put a crook in the neck of any customer attempting to take in all the glorious foods for sale. Thigh-high wicker baskets hold golden-crusted baguettes. Hefty barrels of plump Mediterranean olives front a cheese table, where orders of outrageously delicious pesto gouda and caramelized-onion cheddar are attended to. Shelves are lined with glass jars of dried fruit and international brands of coffee, olive oils, jams, cookies, honey, chocolates, and more.
Among the most popular of county restaurants is Lefteris Gyro.
Photo by Frank Roberts
With the aggregate 86 miles of shoreline provided by the Hudson River and Sound Shore, there’s no shortage in Westchester of alfresco restaurant seating with cerulean panoramas. Tarrytown has two of the better county restaurants for water views, each with large decks adjacent to the river across from the soaring Palisades and Cuomo Bridge.
Barley on the Hudson is a counter-service eatery with a beach-shack-style menu (think disposable plates loaded with fried shrimp, seared-tuna sandwiches, Nathan’s hot dogs, and crab cakes), a 100-seat patio, 14 beers on tap, a 32-foot bar, and solid house-made sangria.
A notch or so higher on the formality ladder (real plates and full-service) is the nautically themed Sunset Cove. The menu is seafood/Italian, with a raw bar and selections such as roasted-cauliflower Caesar, grilled octopus, scallop risotto, grilled Montauk swordfish, and chicken scarpariello. There’s also a bountiful $29 Sunday-brunch buffet and a cash-only tiki bar for cheap drinks and guilty-pleasure fried finger food.
Tight budget notwithstanding, there come occasions that demand extravagant meals. Conversely, there are times when only a quick-and-affordable meal will gratify — even for those with lots of disposable income.
Tarrytown’s white-tablecloth Bistro 12 proffers an unhurried, sophisticated dining experience within its dining room boasting mustard-yellow walls, coffered wood ceiling, and colorfully buoyant paintings. The cuisine is Mediterranean, slanting toward Portuguese (the three partners are natives of Madeira) and Italian flavors, with options such as alentejana, a robust dish of pork tenderloin, plump clams, and potatoes in a white wine broth; salt cod scrambled with eggs, onions, and potatoes; and a special tagliolini with black truffle. (Approximately half of the entrées are $30+.) If the evening goes just right, partner Jose Manuel Pereira will break out his Portuguese guitar.
On the other end of the budget spectrum, there are tacos (The Taco Project), bibimbap and bubble tea (Bibille), abundant plates of Greek classics (Lefteris Gyro), and Pik Nik BBQ, where the smoker runs six days a week, so your brisket and St. Louis ribs are always fresh.