Mogan Anthony’s initial vision for his Asian street food concept, Fatt Root, was only sort of what he imagined when it opened in 2019. “I wanted it to be like a Chipotle-style counter service,” he reveals.
What Fatt Root ended up being was this mashup of ordering at a counter, paying, then having your food brought over to you. Had you chosen to take a seat inside or outside on the alleyway patio without walking up to the counter, a server would have taken your order. But most elected to get it to-go, whether that meant ordering in person or prepaying via the hotline or online, and snatching up bags full of slow-simmered bone broths, rice bowls, and crispy chicken hoisin-BBQ-glazed bao off a “takeout table.”
Fast forward three years, and stepping into Fatt Root in 2022 feels like you’re in a brand-new restaurant.
Gone is the ordering counter. Also missing is the open fridge that chilled a few beer choices, cups of sake, and seltzers. The Boylan’s soda machine? That’s out, too.
Version 2.0 is darker, sexier, and in place of the walk-up takeout counter is a U-shaped bar made for sipping, snacking, and slurping ramen noodles.
Fatt Root’s new design and overall feel doesn’t mean takeout is a thing of the past. It’s not. It’s still flying out the door and there’s a rack to the left of the entrance where you can grab your to-go bag. What the switch-up is about is a return to dine-in, plus staying in line with the now bustling restaurant scene in Pleasantville. “We wanted to get our dine-in business back and give patrons somewhere else to go because of overflow at other restaurants here,” says Anthony.
And if Fatt Root’s fans remember what Anthony’s concept began as before it was called “Fatt Root,” it was a sit-down experience dubbed Mura Ramen Gastropub that was a once in a while pop-up held at the Village Social Restaurant Group’s other restaurants, Village Social and Locali, and a few others outside of their umbrella.
Helping out with Fatt Root’s next phase is Michael Lucente, who worked with Anthony many moons ago at BLT in White Plains. Lucente was formerly an executive chef at several Barcelona Wine Bar locations in Connecticut and helped open a bunch more in other states. “We always respected each other,” Anthony says. “He wanted to not be working in New York City and, funny enough, now I’m mostly in the city at Lady Wong and he’s here.”
While Anthony splits his time between Westchester and the now nationally recognized Lady Wong — a Southeast Asian bakery he co-owns with his wife Seleste Tan that’s producing stunning desserts — Lucente has enthusiastically picked up some of Anthony’s duties at all of the VSG’s restaurants, especially at Fatt Root.
“Why not build a bar? Why not have it be a full-service restaurant?” Lucente says. “It has had a solid takeout business since it opened. The people in the area like the food and there’s nothing like this here. You won’t find khao soi and stuff like that. We’re a neighborhood restaurant.”
Where Lucente has put his imprint on Fatt Root — though it’s still a collaborative menu creation process — is by bringing a tapas-style approach as it pertains to the new bar and slight menu expansion. Yes, don’t worry, your Fatt faves aren’t going anywhere! But what has debuted recently is an extra bao choice, hoisin-glazed pork belly with pickled cucumbers and scallions, gochujang BBQ wings, vegan Thai empanadas, a shareable crab salad, a few more dumpling choices (vegan kale and shrimp with sambal aioli), and a serious umami blast that’s shrimp toast on a crisp slice of milk bread with ginger, sesame seeds, and eel sauce.
There’s more in the form of “crunchy cabbage,” raw Hamachi (coconut, chili, mint, scallions, puffed rice), and a BBQ skate wing that’s all being tested out. A few other entrée changeups that are surefire hits are spicy mala half-roasted chicken (cabbage, cilantro, peanuts, sesame rice, Sichuan chili sauce), a big plate that packs plenty of spice, and the Korean skirt steak, a dish formerly presented as a rice bowl, now reimagined as “Korean steak frites” as it’s served with furikake fries. “We want to see what people will bite on,” Lucente says. “We’re taking customer feedback on a lot of those new dishes.”
At the bar — because we made you wait this long for it — bartender Catherine Haug created a drink list that’s got plenty of tiki flair and is all about imploring bright, fresh juices. “It’s a labor of love,” she says. “I wanted it to be approachable but wanted to include ingredients Mogan uses in his cooking. I haven’t worked with stuff like pandan that I steeped in Carpino Antica Vermouth for 24 hours. It’s subtle enough in the Negroni that it doesn’t slap you in the face.”
Some of that tiki flair she mentioned is on display in the O-M-G & T, a gin & tonic with additions of elderflower and hibiscus; the My Thai (aged rum, Coco Lopez, pineapple, blue curacao) that’s more pina colada than a Mai Thai; the very green Rocket Man (gin, arugula, cucumber, ginger, bitters) that’ll make you feel like you’re drinking a healthy juice bar green juice; and Lemongrass & Lime, a gimlet interpretation that swaps out gin for kaffir and lemongrass-infused vodka.
Now that you can graze at Fatt Root and enjoy the classics and some new dishes mixed in, dessert is the last teaser we’ll leave you with. Expect gluten-free ube donut holes, forbidden rice pudding, mochi ice cream, and we have on good authority that Lady Wong’s cakes should make the menu soon enough.
11 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville; 914.579.2552
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