New Rochelle Shocker! After 92 Years, Modern Pizza Expands (and Probably Moves); Sierra Nevada to Take Over Growlers; and Bolsas de Frutas at Paleteria Fernandez

HotFlash: New Rochelle’s Modern Restaurant and Pizzeria Expands into a Vast, Historic Building in New Rochelle

I’m just going to put this out there. I think it’s really inconsiderate when restaurant people make big moves in August when the rest of us are trying to take vacations. Dishrags. That said, I was hanging out with an espresso at R Patisserie when I noticed that my second favorite restaurant supply store in the county was gone. Here’s what I loved about the vast New Rochelle Restaurant Supply at 310 Huguenot Street: As you waited for someone to drag your box of parchment paper up from the bowels of the earth, you could look around at some of the city’s prettiest, unrestored architecture. Inside the tall, arched windows (once a car dealership), there was a high, vaulted ceiling; little musicians’ galleries; and a whole lot of dramatic volume. Sure, this grand old building had seen better days, but it was still a hoot as a peeling, dusty, pot-and-pan warehouse.

Turns out that the charms of 310 Huguenot had not gone unnoticed by the folks at cramped Modern Restaurant and Pizzeria. In fact, the New Rochelle landmark is planning to debut a new venture, Modern Italian, in the space this fall. You know Modern Pizza; it’s that ancient bread bakery-cum-pizzeria that’s been operating on New Rochelle’s Russell Avenue since 1920. Modern famously still uses the original commercial bakery’s cavernous, white-tiled oven (sadly, refitted from its coal-burning origins to run on oil). Its dining room is beloved by locals for its idiosyncratic, vintage charm.

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I spoke with one of Modern’s owners, Anthony Russo, and there is breaking news for Westchester pizza fans: Apparently, that cavernous, factory-scaled bread oven on Russell Avenue is prohibitively expensive to fuel for pizza. Russo and his partner are currently in negotiations with an unnamed restaurateur to turn the quaint Russell Avenue spot into a Mexican restaurant (gasp!). While the demise of Modern in the Russell  Avenue digs is not yet definite, Modern is taking the 8500-square-foot Huguenot Street space, formerly known as New Rochelle Restaurant Supply, and transforming it into a showplace with the help of the Manhattan firm, Parts and Labor Design. Modern Italian, slated to debut in September (restaurant-savvy folks might want to add three months), will accommodate 130 diners and 26 barflies—plus, it will offer an 80-seat banquet room. The design features white subway tile, custom light fixtures, a walnut bar, and bare walnut tables. The good news is that the historic structure’s brass doors and vaulted ceilings will remain. Says Russo, “You’ve seen Modern—we’re keeping the vintage style.”

While Modern Italian will amp up Modern Pizza’s basic beverage list to offer a cocktail menu, eight taps, and some quality wines (stored in a wine room), the food at Modern Italian will be in line with what you’ll currently find at Modern Restaurant and Pizzeria. The new spot will feature an innovative “brick” oven fueled with gas and radiant heating, and, because the new restaurant runs right through the block, there will be a takeout area accessed via Westchester Place. Modern Italian’s owners plan to lease two private parking lots on Centre Avenue and Huguenot Street to offer valet parking, though there is also a municipal lot fairly close by. While parking is not ideal, the 310 Huguenot Street space lies close to the New Rochelle Metro-North station, and the Avalon and Trump residence towers. Russo plans to offer late nights and bar snacks to lure weary commuters.

So, it looks like there’s a massive, 92-year-old oven up for grabs. Anyone? Anyone? I’ll be checking the dumpster regularly. Here are more renderings of Modern Italian:


HotDate: Upcoming Beer Events

She was doing body shots 45 minutes later

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Sierra Nevada Tap Takeover at Growlers Beer Bistro

Wednesday, August 29

7 – 9pm

From the announcement: “Jan Apanich, the specialty beer advisor for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, will be coming to Growlers Beer Bistro in Tuckahoe on Wednesday, August 29 from 7 pm to 11 pm. Sierra Nevada opened its doors in 1980, after Founder and Head Brewer Ken Grossman studied chemistry and physics at a local community college. In 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of Pale Ale, which would become a staple in craft brewing. Over the next decade, demand forced Sierra Nevada to move to its current brewing site in Chico, CA. Ken is still personally involved in every aspect of the brewing operation and maintains Sierra Nevada’s commitment to premium ingredients and time-honored brewing techniques. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is currently ranked the second largest craft brewery behind only Boston Beer Company. Despite its size in the craft brewing industry, it still only represents a small share of the total US beer market. Growlers will be pouring the following Sierra Nevada beers:”

·      Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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·      Summer Fest

·      Imperial Pilsner

·      Floral IPA

·      Ovila Dubbel

·      Torpedo

·      Southern Hemisphere

Meet the Brewer Nights at Craftsman Ale House

Here’s the thing about Craftsman Ale House: You can’t not bump into a brewer. Craftsman runs near-weekly “Meet the Brewer” nights, and, on Saturday nights, look for the cheap gulp-for-all: Craftsman’s weekly Kill the Keg party. Here are this week’s Meet the Brewer events:

August 23, 7 pm River Horse Brewery

Aug 24, 7 pm Speakeasy Brewing


HotPlate: The Ideal Dog Days Dessert: Salty/Hot/Tart Bolsas de Fruta at Paleteria Fernandez

Imagine this: crisp, cold batons of jicama that, when bitten, jet icy juice, like the freshest apple. Then imagine that jicama sprinkled with salt, fresh lime juice, and tongue-tickling chili. If you’ve got any kind of culinary imagination at all, your mouth is watering right now. When the weather gets humid, skip sticky sugar bombs for dessert—stop into Port Chester’s bustling Paleteria Fernandez for bolsas de fruta (fruit bags). These handy Ziploc bags of icy jicama or mango are dressed while you wait, and make the ideal post prandial munch for the dog days of summer.

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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