House-made focaccia and eggplant caponata, provided gratis, begin a meal at Osteria Padre Pio, an Italian restaurant that’s small in size but big on charm. | Photo by Halina Sabath
The under-the-radar eatery is owned by a pair of passionate and gracious hosts serving the flavors of Italy in Westchester County.
Charm is not something that can be manufactured or purchased; a restaurant either has it or it doesn’t. At 38-seat Osteria Padre Pio, the dining experience oozes undisputable charm, which begins with its partners, Chef Andrea Ingenito and front-of-house manager Marco Varriale.
The duo are natives of the Amalfi Coast (their Italian accents lend to the charm factor), and they follow a simple philosophy.
“We want people to forgot they’re in a restaurant,” says Varriale of Bronxville, who got his start working for his father and uncle at three restaurants in Naples and who formerly owned The Italian Job pizzeria in Tuckahoe. “Instead, [they should] think they’re in an extra room in their house.”
Ingenito, a White Plains resident who previously owned Chef Andrea in West Harrison, has been in the industry for 40 years. His first chef position was at Manhattan’s iconic Rainbow Room. “I’m here from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.,” says Ingenito. “Any good restaurant needs a chef — not a cook — leading the kitchen. A chef means it’s more than just a job; it’s a passion.” Ingenito studied culinary arts at Villa Santa Maria in Chieti, Italy, but says the base for his cooking abilities started with Mama and Nonna. “They used vegetables they grew themselves and made dishes from scratch.” What that yields is a menu influenced mostly by Italy’s Campania region, with focaccia, sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, scapece (marinated vegetables), eggplant caponata, mozzarella, and pastas such as agnolotti, fettuccine, and pappardelle all done in-house.
What they can’t do themselves is purchased from local purveyors (e.g., Rappa Farms, in Brewster, Pagano’s Seafood, in Norwalk, and New Jersey’s Pat LaFrieda) or imported from Italy: extra virgin olive oil, burrata (overnighted every Thursday), black-label Locatelli cheese from Sardinia, and 18-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.
The signature dish is the Spaghettoni Padre Pio: wide spaghetti with San Marzano datterini (a plum-tomato variety), garlic confit, eggplant caponata, and burrata.
Desserts, such as tiramisu and pistachio cheesecake, change weekly and are homemade.
“We don’t have a freezer or microwave, and our refrigerator is small,” says Ingenito. “So, you know everything is fresh.”
The beverage program includes imported wines, mostly from Italy ($11-$15 by-the-glass, $29 to $140 bottles), plus house-made limoncello and myriad other digestivos (alcohol distilled with herbs, flowers, fruit veggies, etc).
For Ingenito, being in his kitchen is boundless exhilaration. “Marco will come tell me, ‘Table 6 wants to talk, or table 12 wants to talk,’ and I go out, and the positive feedback excites me.”
“The people have been friendly and supportive,” adds Varriale. “They are friends to us, not customers.”
Osteria Padre Pio
501 Halstead, Mamaroneck; 914.380.8704;