Polpettina Expands to a Second Spot in Larchmont (and Sexton Sneaks In)

When I ate my first meal at Polpettina in Eastchester, it was kind of like finding a Golden Ticket in a Willie Wonka Bar. There I was, thinking all I’d get were some meatballs, maybe a slice of pizza, when all of a sudden, BOOM: out came the beautiful Hudson Valley cheeses, the stunning little honeyed eggplant crisps, and the weird-ass pasta special with uni butter. I literally rotated in my chair to stare at Mike Abruzese who stood, looking innocent enough, manning his slot-mouthed Baker’s Pride oven. The audacity! When every other Westchester pizza guy was frantically building wood-fired beehives, here was this guy serving this food out a New Rochelle spawned Baker’s Pride.

Oh, there were problems, namely, Polpettina was barely tolerated by the town who, with tooth and nail, fought their eventual expansion from about 15 seats to a survivable size. Parking was difficult, if not a total drag, and often involved repeated circles around the densely parked blocks. And though Polpettina had a smart craft beer and wine program, you were out of luck for cocktails: in the beginning, Polpettina barely had a bathroom, let alone a spirits license. Plus, it was popular. With so few seats, you might have to wait for a table.

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    Polpettina’s Cosmo with a flamed orange peel

Cue the hot news in Larchmont. Polpettina has taken over the large 147 Larchmont Avenue space recently vacated by Espana and has installed its whole shebang there, plus a whole lot more besides. The new store is ready to open as soon as owners Kyle Inserra, Mike Abruzese, and Joe Lodi get the all-clear from the inspectors. People, at the new Polpettina, there is parking—both on the street and around the corner in the large municipal lot accessed from Addison Street. And then—oh yes—there is a serious cocktail program that, like the Polpettina menu, straddles the ethereal (a smoked quince Old Fashioned) and the winkingly mundane (the crisp Cosmo with flamed orange peel).

For these, Abruzese and Inserra consulted with Jonathan M. Forester, who, after a stint as Senior Writer at Slashfood, opened his own bar and consulting company based in Bronxville. The drinks he’s whipping up employ carefully chosen spirits, freshly made juices, herbs, and giant, beautiful single chunks of glassy, hand carved ice. The process is laborious: in order to keep the cloudiness away, the water must be boiled before being poured into 3 inch deep hotel pans and then frozen into a slab. Forrester then dons neoprene and Kevlar gloves to hand hew chunks to fit Polpettina’s tumblers. The reward is an irregular, beautiful, crystal-clear chunk with high cooling power and low surface area. This chunk will not overly dilute Forester’s cocktails.

The Polpettina boys also brought in Jane Lopes as a wine consultant. Lopes started in Chicago at The Violet Hour, ranked the #3 cocktail bar in the country by GQ Magazine. She went on to manage LUSH, a wine and spirits retailer that won Best Wine Store in Time Out Chicago in 2010 and the Chicago Reader in 2011. From there, Lopes became Beverage Director at The Catbird Seat in Nashville, which was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by GQBon Appétit, and Food & Wine. Here, Lopes’s role was to design and execute pairings for a weekly-changing ten course tasting menu. Her beverage program and unique style pairing has been featured in the New York TimesImbibeWine Enthusiast, and Architectural Digest. She will begin work with New York’s Altamarea group at their new restaurant, Ristorante Morini, in December 2013.

Just as at the Eastchester spot, the Larchmont Polpettina features repurposed barn boards and Edison bulbs, but what’s new is size—this sucker looks mammoth. The pair kept the space’s gorgeous and original tin ceilings but opened up all of the walls. The effect of what is, in truth, a long very deep room is alleviated by taking the glass storefront that had been on Larchmont Avenue and installing in the back of the restaurant to overlook, from a story up, the Addison parking lot. Also a skylight has been uncovered, and interior walls removed. The space is bright, open, and yet sweetly nostalgic at the same time. We can’t wait to simply park, eat, and drink at Polpettina. Pounce.

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Hot Date

Taste 4 The Philippines, A Major Chef Event To Raise Money For Typhoon Haiyan
December 4, 7-10 pm
$125 per person

From the announcement: “The destruction and suffering caused by Typhoon Haiyan is immeasurable, and relief efforts will likely take years of coordination and financial support. Lots of it. Here is a complete list of organizations accepting donations. Brooklyn chef Dale Talde (of Talde, Thistle Hill Tavern, and Pork Slope) was born to Filipino parents and is organizing a major fundraising event to be held on December 4 at the Green Building (452 Union Street, Brooklyn NY 11231).

The event will run from 7 pm to 10 pm and 100 percent of proceeds raised will be donated to World Vision, one of the vital humanitarian organizations actively responding to the crisis in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Tickets are $125 each and can be purchased here.

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Restaurants participating in the event include:

Talde Lumpia Shack Sottocasa
Pork Slope Maharlika Telepan
Thistle Hill Tavern The Meatball Shop Toro NYC
Budakkan Pig & Khao  
Dinosaur BBQ Restaurant North  
Du Jour Bakery Roberta’s  
Jeepney Roberto Santibanez of Fonda  
Chris Rendell of the Highlands Restaurant Group Runa Tea  
The Little Beet Speedy Romeo  

Spirits provided by:
Brooklyn Brewery
Prym Rum
Regal Wines
Tyku Sake
The Wayland NYC

Hot Plate

Roasted Cauliflower at The Mill

This sultry little nightspot in Hastings-on-Hudson is slinging serious drinks and a whole lot of cool. Look for stunningly delicious drinks—my favorite is the gin and Charteuse Farrugut—paired with smart bites like the roasted cauliflower starter pictured here. Look, it’s not hard to make cauliflower sexy, but so few people go through the time-consuming process of roasting the cruciform veg to caramelize it and concentrate its shy flavors. Here, you’ll find all that and more in a healthy-tasting salad (hopefully rewarded with a Farrugut).

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