From the finely curated menu of seasonal, sustainably sourced ingredients to the sophisticated and transporting decor reminiscent of the blue-green waters that lap Mexico’s shores, La Casa Bronxville is arguably unlike anything Westchester residents (Americans, really) have come to expect from a Mexican restaurant this side of the Rio Grande. Perhaps the key to this locally unheard-of level of culinary inventiveness is owner Spencer Pingel, a longtime Bronxville resident who has never helmed a restaurant.
Although he can trace his love of food and cooking to childhood — narrowly dodging a disaster with a hibachi and a makeshift platform outside the window of his 14th-floor NYC bedroom — Pingel enjoyed three decades in corporate marketing before embarking on this new chapter.
Drawing on his love for the rich traditions of Mexican cuisine (gleaned during college breaks in Mexico), the high-end restaurants of Mexico City, and a desire to create a farm-to-table dining hub for his community, Pingel debuted La Casa last summer but relaunched in late 2021 with a new chef: Puebla-raised, family-trained Victor “Erik” Lopez, from Michelin-starred Casa Enrique in Long Island City. Together, they source ingredients from local farm and fish markets as often as the seasons allow and make most everything in-house — right down to the tortillas that are nixtamalized from heirloom corn and ground with a molino (mill).
They also rely heavily on direct importers of produce from Mexican farms. “The difference is about five days’ worth of freshness,” notes Pingel. “Our menu features vegetables and the amazing salads I’ve had in Mexico but never here.” The vibrant house ensalada, blossoming with crisp slivers of beet, jicama, green mango, queso fresco, pumpkin seeds, and a hint of citrus vinaigrette, is a worthy example.
The balance of the menu is succinct, with a sampling of small plates, elevated tacos (the carnitas are a standout), and a handful of contemporary, upmarket entrées that manage to skew more homemade than restaurant-born.
“In Mexico, recipes and flavors vary from family to family, village to village,” Lopez explains. “My vision is to develop my own versions, playing with new techniques.”
The offerings change frequently, but the one constant is Lopez’s delicate hand in the kitchen: The sweetness of the sea is front and center in his Maine crab tosta-das, never overshadowed by accompanying avocado and cilantro, while rustic caldo de pollo (chicken soup) is subtle yet deeply earthy, as if a culinary-schooled abuela on a low-salt diet presides over the pot.
Traditional tres leches cake and churros with molten chocolate usher an easy end to the meal, and the bar program is highlighted by a tight lineup of margaritas and artisan mezcal cocktails. The bar itself sets the opening tone for the elegant vibe that unfolds throughout, and it’s a prime village spot for simple, freshly prepared guacamole, served with a “salsa” of crushed chilis, sesame seeds, peanuts, and pistachios, which, like the entire La Casa experience, packs a gentle punch that is sure to outlast a compact yet generous tin of chips.
La Casa Bronxville
7 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville