If you’ve been in the restaurant business as long as Joe Giordano has — his first job was 45 years ago, working as a busboy at Richard’s Chippewa Lounge in Pelham Bay — you’ve seen everything.
Well, almost everything.
“With COVID, there are shorter stay times,” says the 18-year New Rochelle resident, who opened Christopher’s by Chef Joe in late October in the space that previously housed La Riserva. “No lingering at the table over dessert, no extra cocktail to finish off the night.”
Another challenge beyond the pandemic Giordano had to contend with was the legacy of its location predecessor, the popular La Riserva, which was there for more than 40 years. “They had a good reputation for traditional Italian cuisine,” he says.
But Giordano didn’t want to simply pick up where La Riserva left off. “There are too many of the same type of restaurants in Westchester,” he adds.
Giordano’s menu is steak and seafood with Italian and Japanese influences, and while there are some basics, like clams oreganata, meatballs, Caesar salad, and rack of lamb with a honey-mustard crust, many of the selections show the chef’s creativity: scallops roasted on the half shell, with cream corn chowder and truffle; caramelized pear with San Daniele prosciutto, honeycomb, and leek chestnut chutney; medallion filet mignon topped with tempura lobster tail in a garlic red vinegar and teriyaki sauce; and risotto with Beluga lentil, duck sausage, chanterelles, and lemon foam.
Prime steaks, cooked on high heat with a little salt and pepper, are dry-aged 28 days. New Rochelle’s The Bread Factory and Arthur Avenue’s Cosenza’s Fish Market and Biancardi Meats are among local vendors that supply the restaurant.
“Along with my not-so-traditional menu, people appreciate the decor upgrades I’ve made,” he says of the 110-seat interior. (Red brick was painted white, for a fresher, brighter space; modern sconces and chandeliers were added, as was an outdoor seating area.)
The restaurant is named for Giordano’s 14-year-old neighbor, Christopher Greco, who is autistic: “I’m friends with the family, and his mother is an investor, so it felt right.” With his many decades in the food industry, Giordano, who previously held positions as executive chef at New Rochelle’s Greentree Country Club and Valbella in Greenwich, says the most dramatic change in the dining-out public over the years concerns predictability. “You used to be able to know what to expect week after week. If you sold 20 racks of lamb one week, then the next week it would likely be the same. The tendency now is for people to mix things up more, as they don’t necessarily order what they had on their last visit. It makes the job harder but also more interesting.”
Christopher’s by Chef Joe
2382 Boston Post Rd