Yonkers is the next big thing.
Bolstered by the knowledge that Hudson Valley’s premier restaurateur Peter X. Kelly was also committed to Yonkers (he is set to open a seafood restaurant on Yonkers’s City Pier), and that other plans were in the works to bring upscale drinking and dining establishments here, co-owner Rob Leggio, 26, opened Zuppa. He secured a favorable lease on an old newspaper press building that had stood vacant for seven years. In six months, doing much of the physical labor himself, he built an impressively hip, comfortable space juxtaposing industrial elements like exposed duct work and brick against the sensual warmth of curvaceous sage colored banquettes, burnt orange and garnet walls and wood floors.
The menu at four-month-old Zuppa is well balanced, offering clean, contemporary interpretations of Mediterranean dishes. Chef David Regueiro, formerly at Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur and Aureole restaurants in New York City, collaborated with Leggio to create a diverse menu of sophisticated, accessible fare.
The menu changes seasonally, based on what’s available at the markets, but certain items are no doubt more permanent, such as the wood-fired flatbreads. Like thin, crispy-crusted pizzas, the flatbreads make great nibble food. We loved the balance of the sweet caramelized onion against the roasted and marinated peppers and the mildly tangy goat cheese.
The wood-fired oven is also used to cook the salmon, which is served in a light tomato broth with just a whisper of fennel flavor in it. The salmon is particularly moist, which Chef Regueiro attributes to his process of sealing the fish, along with basil and garlic oils and lobster stock, in parchment before baking it in the oven.
The emphasis on the food here is much more on ingredients than it is on elaborate sauces or complex flavor combinations. Simple treatment of good ingredients yields good food, a principle exemplified in one night’s special of a one-inch thick New York strip steak. Tender and juicy, nicely marked from the grill but not scorched, it was seasoned with little more than salt and pepper. The simple preparation kept the focus on the great flavor of the meat. We were equally delighted by the accompanying potatoes, coarsely mashed with extra virgin olive oil, and the blanched and lightly seasoned fresh fava beans. It didn’t take innovative technique to make every morsel taste as good as it gets.
Similarly, carpaccio di capicolla and dry sausage—really a plate of good Italian cured meats served with aged Parmesan cheese—made for a lively, no- fuss appetizer. A salad of arugula and shaved fennel, dressed with a citrus vinaigrette and garnished with bits of toasted hazelnuts, was also a lovely way to start the meal.
More complex flavors were evident in a pork tenderloin, wrapped in proscuitto, which crisped as the pork roasted, with hints of cinnamon and cardamom.
The food here is not overwhelmingly heavy, so dessert lovers can leave room for the fun, kitchy bag of warm zeppole, brought to the table in the traditional white paper bag. And remember, all this straightforward, good food is served in a hip and attractive setting—in the middle of downtown Yonkers. Surely the next big thing for Westchester.
ZUPPA RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE
59-61 Main St., Yonkers
Lunch, Mon. to Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm
Dinner, Mon. to Sat. 5:30-10:30 pm