Restaurant Review: Il Castello

Two young brothers serve “red sauce” Italian cuisine in Mamaroneck just the way we Americans like it.

No “foam,” fusion or other fads

Two young brothers serve “red sauce” Italian cuisine in Mamaroneck just the way we Americans like it.

 

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It isn’t easy to find Il Castello—I searched up and down Mamaroneck Avenue for the restaurant’s entrance, only to learn later that you enter from the parking lot, in the rear. But, once inside, and especially after the dessert cart rolled around, it was even tougher to leave.

 

Though the restaurant’s interior could benefit from a makeover by the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—I’m sure the Fab Five would have a field day with the patterned carpeting, grandmotherly curtains and walls adorned with dusty murals of the Isle of Capri—Il Castello’s less-than cutting edge surroundings is in tune with its cuisine. Il Castello’s  menu  isn’t overly ambitious—or pretentious. What’s served is the food we Americans have been enjoying for decades, “red sauce” dishes like penne arrabbiata and chicken parmigiana. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Indeed, when done properly—and most often it is at Il Castello—these dishes are a treat.

 

I began my meal with a bowl of satisfying stracciatella alla romana, a simple soup of chicken broth with spinach and eggs that was warming on a brisk winter’s night. For something lighter, a tre colore salad with arugula, endive and radicchio drizzled with a light balsamic vinaigrette did the trick. The homemade mozzarella with fresh tomatoes, basil and roasted peppers was tasty, too, but a bit skimpy. Ditto the grilled shrimp and arugula salad.

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Fortunately, the kitchen wasn’t as stingy with the shellfish when it came to the pastas. A fettuccine special with shrimp, scallops and spinach was robust, as was the signature fettuccine Il Castello with chicken, shrimp and sun-dried tomatoes. It is said that you can judge an Italian restaurant by the quality of the tomato sauce, and Il Castello’s was rife with flavor. This vibrancy carried over to the chicken Calabrese—two pan-seared chicken breasts with hot cherry peppers, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. However, a red snapper special fell flat, with the lemon white wine sauce too heavy for the light texture of the fish.

 

Desserts, however, more than made up for any shortcoming. Tableside service of zabaglione and bananas Foster were showstoppers, and the ricotta cheesecake was a pleasantly light alternative to the usual New York-style offering, but just in case you prefer the latter, both are offered. The fig tart was by far the most interesting confection, with its light crust and custard base.

 

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As far as service: in a word, wow! Owners and brothers Lenny and Denny Balidemaj are young men from Montenegro who possess a knowledge of old-fashioned techniques which charm and impress. There are fewer and fewer restaurants nowadays where your waiter will prepare a Caesar salad or expertly debone a fish tableside. Il Castello is one of them—and it’s better for it.

 

IL CASTELLO

327 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck

(914) 835-9066

 

HOURS:  

Lunch, Tue. to Fri. 12-3 pm

Dinner, Tue. to Thurs. 5-10 pm, Fri. to Sat. 5-11 pm, Sun. 2-9 pm

 

PRICES:

Appetizers: $5-$10.95

Pastas: $12.95-$16.95

Entrees: $14.95-$24.95

Desserts: $6

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