We heard that Chef Shea Gallante was opening a restaurant in Ardsley, so we rang him up—on Monday, at home, which was a pretty dishraggy move. Everyone knows that chefs take Mondays off so that they can live like humans for 24 hours. Still, Gallante could not have been sweeter as he took my call while on marathon hold with the phone company. Turns out that Gallante’s experience of first-time sole ownership means that this rocket-hot young chef is spending his day off performing grunt tasks like pestering the phone company and making paint runs to the hardware store. “My wife picked out the color for the restaurant—she picked it by the code—but, when I got there, I realized that the color was called ‘semolina.’ That kinda stuck in my mind.”
Gallante is coming off wild successes at Manhattan’s Cru and Ciano, where he was universally praised for his urbane, updated takes on rustic Italian food. Gallante’s Ardsley spot, Italian Kitchen, will debut in mid-May and will be located at 698 Saw Mill River Road in a long, narrow space that once held Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant & Pizza. Italian Kitchen is modestly scaled with only about 55 seats and décor that is, according to Gallante, “very DIY.” Not only did Gallante’s wife pick the colors, but Gallante notes that the interior’s reclaimed barn siding and other design elements were contributed by friends. The space comprises a 25-seat front dining room, a central bar, and a 30-seat rear dining room.
Italian Kitchen’s, well, kitchen will be overseen by Gallante’s longtime associate at Ciano (and db Bistro Moderne alum), Chef Paul Mancebo, and will focus, according to Gallante, “on light, fresh, updated” Italian food with everything coming “kitchen-to-table” (whatever that means). There will be some dishes that echo those at Gallante’s Manhattan ventures, like a dish of sole with summer tomatoes, crab, and spring herbs that Gallante will offer at Italian Kitchen for $23. “We’re keeping the price point at about twenty to thirty dollars for mains and twelve to sixteen dollars for pastas,” he says. “It’s going to be family friendly. We’re thinking of doing take-out and even some local delivery— family dinner-type meals: roasted chicken and potatoes.”
Starters at Italian Kitchen will include crostini of whipped eggplant with confit of garlic or broccoli rabe with pancetta. Mains like slow-roasted short-rib ragu with caramelized radicchio will be offered at the all-welcoming price of $24. Italian Kitchen’s wine program also will be gently priced: It comprises 10 whites, 10 reds, two sparkling wines, and one dessert wine, all currently priced under $100. “But these are hand-picked bottles. You know, often, small restaurants are at the mercy of the wine distributor,” Gallante says. “It’s pretty easy for them to become a wine dumping ground; to get the higher-quality wines, you have to take the lower-quality wines. The good news is that Italian Kitchen can draw from my current wine resources, so we’ll be offering extreme value per markup.” While Italian Kitchen is too small for an extensive mixology program, Gallante does promise “fresh, seasonal cocktails.”
The inspiration for Italian Kitchen was almost accidental. “This all happened pretty quickly. I drove by the space—I live about a block and half away—and I noticed that the restaurant was closed. Giuseppe’s had been here since something like 1968 and I kinda knew what happened there. So I thought I’d take over the space.” Not only is Gallante an Ardsley resident (he lives there with his wife and three kids), but he also grew up in the Edgemont section of Scarsdale. Gallante plans to oversee the kitchen at Ciano while Chef Mancebo holds down the fort in Ardsley.
This week, our two hot dates are all about free stuff. Free food, free drink. Free your wallet, and your belly will follow.
Havana Central Free Year’s Supply of Empanadas
May 18, 11:30 am
To celebrate its first 30 days of existence, Havana Central (in Ridge Hill, Yonkers) is offering the first 30 diners to enter the restaurant one free year’s supply of empanadas. The restaurant opens at 11:30 am and the winners will be provided with a punch card, which is redeemable for 365 free empanadas—for dining in or carrying out—before May 17, 2013.
Free Beer at Captain Lawrence Tasting Room
Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm (retail sales at 2 pm; samples served after 4 pm)
Saturday from noon to 6 pm (retail and samples)
You cough up $2 for a tasting glass, and you enjoy endless free samples of beer. Do the math, kids. On Saturday, you can drink free beer for 6 hours and they can’t say anything if your $2 is in nickels! While you’re there, you might also like to check out the Captain’s new Tasting Room menu of great bruschetta, cheeses, and salumi—plus, don’t be surprised when the brewery parking lot gets a visit from your favorite local food trucks.
This is one of my many weird addictions: soup dumplings—those pretty, improbably heavy sacks that offer a mouthful of gingery pork and a gush of hot, rich, silky soup. We’ve stalked the famed soup-dumpling palace, Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant (meh), and we’re regulars at Grand Sichuan, but we’ve never even found a passable soup dumpling in Westchester until now. (And before you write in, we’ve tried the version at Aberdeen, but, no matter how we squeezed those dumplings, they never yielded any soup.) Noodle +, an unassuming family joint in White Plains, has a secret weapon: There’s a cook stationed in the kitchen, speed-folding soup dumplings to order. This guarantees that the cold, gelatinized soup won’t get absorbed by the pastry and filling before its melted back into liquid and then served. With the slightest nibble, these impossibly juicy little packages yield super-moist, scallion-flecked pork and an ample spoonful of mouth-slicking, protein-rich soup. We can’t get enough of them.
245 Main St, White Plains (directly opposite White Plains’ City Center shopping mall)