If you’re going to the new Lago Ristorante in the Silver Lake section of West Harrison, get the meatballs. They pop up everywhere—at happy hour in $3 sliders; at dinner as a small plate; as a main course at lunch; and at lunch, in panuozzi: panini-like sandwiches made with charred pizza dough. Lago claims to be the first in Westchester to serve them, a specialty of the Campania region of Italy (the capital of which is Naples).
It’s a novel anti-panini, with toothsome bread charred at the edge. But, those meatballs—rolled like a snowball in grated Parmesan, towering over a lake of San Marzano tomato sauce. If I ask for extra sauce next time, will they give me more? Is the chef’s mom back there cooking them (à la Rocco DiSpirito)? Chef Salvatore Esposito, Italian born and Naples trained, has been recognized as a top Italian chef by the James Beard Foundation and was one of the pioneers of Neapolitan-style pizza in Manhattan. Two types of individual thin-crust pizza with buffalo mozzarella are on the lunch and happy hour menus.
Dinner sounds like cavatelli with cavolo nero (black kale!), pancetta, cannellini beans, pear tomatoes, roasted garlic, and piave cheese; melt-in-your-mouth wild salmon; or 30-day dry-aged charcoaled tomahawk rib-eye steak with rapini, fingerlings, and crispy shallots. The signature pappardelle with mushrooms and cream sauce is flamed tableside in a huge wheel of Parmesan. Prolong the dolce vita with salumi, formaggi, and cocktails with amaro and Aperol.
If this conjures al fresco dining, have a seat at a table on the sidewalk, across from the free parking lot. But you’ll be just as happy inside this expensively outfitted place—take a peek at the gorgeous back room (even the loo is lovely, with a fancy baby changing table occupying only a fraction of real estate).
And for the grand finale: bananas flambé! By your table (or somewhere in the vicinity), bananas and berries are doused with citrus, set afire with Cointreau, and served over vanilla ice cream. Zabaglione receives similar treatment. Both are made only for two (you, and the person you’re trying to impress), but there’s no shortage of solo house-made desserts. Our attentive waiter suggested panna cotta, but we went for the drama. My daughter gasped as the flames leapt, well, quite high. “If you don’t write about this…” she said, shaking her head.
97 Lake Street West
(914) 358-9180; www.lagoristorante.com