Hearty, fried pork mofongo at Gustico Latin Kitchen. Photo by Michelle Gillan Larkin
Fueled by COVID-19 takeout trends and a busier-than-ever culture, upmarket grab ’n’ go restaurants are popping up all over Westchester.
While there’s never been a shortage of fast food in Westchester, there is a noticeable and noteworthy uptick in elevated fast-casual eateries where orders are placed at a counter, packed up to go, or gobbled up quick at small tables that diners bus themselves before racing back out the door. More than a deli or a Dunkin, these new hotspots offer sit-down-quality cuisine that’s affordable and served in pleasing, cafélike surrounds or takeaway carriers. The jury is still out on whether this is a result of social distancing guidelines that limit lingering or just the predominance of an overextended, on-demand society, but either way, one thing is certain: It’s a new, to-go world.
23 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry
Noticing a dearth of good, quick-service eats in the Rivertowns, Scott Broccoli and Chef Evan Kalogiannis, the duo behind The Rare Bit, commandeered a bit of restaurant space to create this elevated takeaway-only joint, where burgers, bowls, salads, and sammies rule the day, and the Epic chicken-scarp sandwich is king. “The concept is quick, affordable meals for on-the-go customers who need an easy way to squeeze in a bite between work, school, and kids’ activities,” says Broccoli. Diners who can’t wait to get to their final destinations can dig in at one of The Rare Bit’s next-door tables, and voilà! Dinner is done.
104 Garth Rd, Scarsdale
For Jose Kochuveetil, the menu and the mission are simple: “I want to serve a healthy curry.” Hailing from Southern India and a master of French and Indian cooking, Kochuveetil offers the best of both worlds at his family-run, fusion-style establishment. “Indian and French food can be heavy,” Kochuveetil says, so he has changed his recipes to be lighter and healthier. In place of cream and butter, common to both cuisines, Kochuveetil uses coconut milk and coconut oil. His succinct menu is curry-based, but specials like coq au vin and beef bourguignon are frequent guest stars.
Meat the Greek
8 Mill Rd, Eastchester
George Menegatos came to America from Greece when he was 9 years old, but he’s come to Westchester to bring “real gyros” to Americans. “In Greece, gyros are always pork,” he explains. “We put fries in them, no lettuce.” At this modern, white-tile-and-stainless-steel eatery, gyros are hand-stacked in the traditional way, meaning the pork (or chicken) is thinly sliced, marinated, skewered, and placed in a rotisserie; Americanized gyro meat is simply ground beef molded with lamb. “My dad always said, ‘What you put in is what you get out,’” which explains why quality is everything to this son of a lifelong chef.
Gustico Latin Kitchen
2215 Central Park Ave, Yonkers
Proudly serving the cuisine of Mom and Pop, this brother-sister shop, run by Fernando and Yolanda Tiaeo, aims to introduce the 914 to authentic Dominican food while fostering “memories of home” among fellow immigrants. “When Dominican people taste the roasted chicken, the flavors will right away remind them of their grandmother’s cooking,” says Fernando. For everyone else, he recommends traditional chicken stew with rice and beans as a solid primer, along with sancocho — a soup of seven meats, plantains, yucca, and creamed banana — and mofongo, a mini-mountain of mashed, seasoned, and fried green plantains.
Milton Point Provisions
615 Milton Rd, Rye
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this locally sourced market with two dozen seats for a quick-but-gourmet bite is what owner Monty Gerrish calls “American nostalgia with hand-selected, upmarket ingredients.” Largely soup, salad, and sandwiches, including hot and cold lobster rolls, the menu also features complete family dinners of wood-fired rotisserie chicken or barbecued ribs with sides like truffle mac ’n’ cheese. “We’ve been called expensive, but when I explain where I get my ingredients from, [people understand] they are the highest quality.”
19 Bank St, White Plains
“I’m proposing a new way of eating Italian food: Easy, quick, delicious, affordable, and healthy,” says papi’ owner Alessandro Crocco. He’s nailed it with this hip, high-tech, and high-energy take on Italian dining that showcases touchless ordering kiosks, fresh, never frozen, ingredients, and signature Roman-style pinsa pizza with a crust fashioned from wheat, soy, and rice flours. “You don’t have to feel guilty anymore,” says Crocco. “As Italians, we live on pizza, and we never get fat.” And when it’s baked in 70 seconds flat, you’ll never be late anymore either.
1789 Central Park Ave, Yonkers
Originally from India but a huge fan of Mexican fare, Jeevan Pullan of VEGA fame in Hartsdale wanted to capitalize on the burgeoning Mexican food craze but in the best way possible. “Everything is fresh, healthy, simple, and cooked-to-order,” he explains. The menu is brief but plentiful, featuring classics like nachos, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, guac, and rice bowls, with street corn and churros adding a dash of culinary cachet. The space is roomy and inviting, with sweeping, hand-painted murals and an entire wall of repeating Frida Kahlo faces keeping tabs on happy patrons.