Having owned and operated four successful Italian restaurants in Westchester over nearly four decades, the Pandolfo family is arguably a local institution in Italian dining. However, it all began over the border, in the Bronx’s Little Italy, when a confident and ambitious Italian immigrant gently stretched the truth like a hunk of melted mozzarella.
“My father went to Dominick’s on Arthur Avenue, which was only a bar back then [in 1969], and suggested that the place be divided to make a restaurant,” says Joseph Pandolfo, a veritable force in his family’s restaurant business. “He said he’d do the cooking because he was a chef from Italy, which he wasn’t.”
Yet Enrico Pandolfo’s homestyle “peasant food” helped put Dominick’s on the map and gave him the cred he needed to launch his own restaurant (Valentino’s) in Yonkers, where Joseph began learning his way around a kitchen. From there, the Pandolfos opened Bel Paese, of more recent memory, in Port Chester and Hawthorne, followed by Chatterbox 54 in Briarcliff Manor, which was unable to withstand the industry-wide challenges of COVID.
In this new Chatterbox iteration, just off the main drag in Pleasantville, Joseph, the owner, proffers classic Italian food influenced by “the north, the south, all of Italy,” via recipes he gleaned while cooking professionally alongside his father for 29 years. “My dad was a very creative man, and if the plate wasn’t perfect, he threw the pan at me,” he laughs, adding he never tosses cookware at his two sons, Joe Jr. and Michael, who help run the show.
Ingredients are sourced from Arthur Avenue and prepared by a Puebla, Mexico-raised chef who boasts 25 years of experience cooking and adoring Italian food. Overstuffed blooming artichokes and fresh pappardelle with a “Sunday ragu” of pork, veal, and beef complement entrées like a whopping veal chop, pounded paper-thin, breaded, and served on the bone with lightly dressed arugula on top. Desserts are house-made and include tiramisu, an eye-popping martini of fried Oreos tucked into house cannoli cream, a tres leches cake that rivals those served at top Mexican restaurants, fresh zeppole, and, of course, Italian cheesecake. “My father’s recipe,” says Joseph.
In many ways, Chatterbox is an homage to that talented, bold “chef” who kicked off a family legacy with a good idea and the need to feed. “I want to bring back Arthur Avenue, where it all started, so many moons ago,” Joseph says. And in the spirit of his father’s love for food, family, and a carpe diem approach to life, Joseph Pandolfo pushes the tables aside after 10 p.m. at week’s end, turns on the disco ball, cues the DJ, and let’s the good times roll in his otherwise serene and airy space.
75 Cooley St, Pleasantville; 914.495.3900 linktr.ee/chatterboxpleasantville
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