Lusardi’s is a warm and wonderful world of good and authentic Italian food.
Gracing Palmer Avenue in the village of Larchmont, amongst the assorted antique shops, bric-a-brac and cafÃ©s, is Lusardi’s. This longtime resident wears the patina of age like a
fine wine. Although a well-established Italian restaurant (its twin is in Manhattan) upon entering, I found the look and feel of the place more old-time French bistro, with its lace curtains, warm wood paneling and large colorful posters, than native Italian. It’s pure 1950s feel and as comfortable as a favorite slipper.
With today’s eclectic dÃ©cor and mix-and-match cuisines, I am never really completely sure what kind of cuisine to expect until I see the menu—or the food on the plate. I should have never given it a second thought.
Lusardi’s is a warm and wonderful world of good simple foods well prepared. The smells of fresh breads and sauces simmering were enough to rev our appetites into high gear. And if I had any doubts about the origin of the cuisine, once the menus arrived we knew it was pure Italian.
We sipped a lusty but smooth red Chianti full of fruit—one the house poured—while we listened to the specials.
Two starters were taken right from the menu, and we decided to split a third, a special. Italian aged prosciutto with arugula and cantaloupe melon drizzled with fig sauce is a dish I’m convinced the chef designed with me in mind. The prosciutto was succulent and salty—a great combo with fresh sweet fruits; the fig sauce a wonderful finish to such a classically simple dish—a tasty way to start a meal, or finish one for that matter. Grilled artichoke with olive oil was terrific; a head of tender leaves that we dipped to contentment in the oil. Our third appetizer, a risotto, was worth every calorie: morsels of butternut squash and porcini mushrooms in a creamy porridge of Arborio rice and red wine and cheese.
For an entrÃ©e, I chose a chicken special: boneless chunks of chicken served in a Dijon mustard sauce. A little more mustard would have given this dish more zip and would have made a good dish a great one. But that’s hardly enough to complain about—picky picky.
My dining companion had the grilled calf’s liver sautÃ©ed with caramelized onion and aged vinegar. Clearly, diets and worries about cholesterol were not on our agenda as we dined; good taste and hearty fare were. The liver was a winner, tender and cooked to perfection with onions. You can’t go wrong with that combination.
Our only real complaint was with the vegetables, green beans and carrots, which were cooked too long for our taste.
We ordered Dolce Misto (literally, a sweet mixture) for dessert, which gave us a choice of any three items. We chose crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e, tiramisu and flourless chocolate cake. The crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e was covered in a perfect shell of burnt sugar and creamy custard beneath, the tiramisu had wonderful layers of madeleines and fresh cream, but the flourless chocolate cake was a mound of chocolate mousse. It was great tasting but not a cake.
Lusardi’s kitchen has bragging rights. The food is fresh and consistent. And, yes, it is the real thing.
1885 Palmer Avenue, Larchmont
Mon. to Sat. 12-4 pm,
Sunday 12-3 pm
Mon. to Thurs. 4-10:30 pm,
Fri. and Sat. 4-11:30 pm,
Sun. 3-9:30 pm
Lusardi’s also has a New York City locale on 1494 Second Avenue—(212) 249-2020.