Everyone knows there’s no shortage of incredible Italian restaurants in Westchester. But what you might not realize is that across the county, there are hidden gems serving dishes that go well beyond the traditional. Forget penne alla vodka, chicken francese or veal Parmesan; at these restaurants you’ll find Italian dishes with a twist, rustic vibes, homey décor and flavor combinations that redefine your idea of Italian.
Photo courtesy of @MangiaWithMatteo
41 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry
Walking down booming Cedar Street, it’s easy to miss this tiny trattoria — its name literally means “small” in Italian — but you would seriously regret it if you knew what was inside. In a quiet, cozy atmosphere with just 10 tables, Chef Sergio Pennachio’s memorable dishes — baked meatballs stuffed with cheese, clams in Barolo wine sauce — blend Northern and Southern Italian cuisine. The presentations are equally unforgettable, with dishes served on white plates adorned with roosters (the symbol of Chianti) or on colorful dinnerware with floral designs.
Order: The creamy Parmesan polenta, followed by the grilled veal chop with homemade potato chips. Fair warning: You may experience extreme sadness once there’s no more of this succulent meat left on the bone.
Photo courtesy of â€‹Spotonny.com
77 Quaker Ridge Rd, New Rochelle
Hiding in Quaker Ridge is a taste of Calabria with a heavy dose of curveballs. With space for only 15 tables, Chef Giorgio cooks up a creative dining experience where you’ll find everything from penne alla grappa to rigatoni Da Giorgio, made with zucchini and steak tips.
Order: The squid-ink spacatelli pasta with crab and jalapeños, in which you’ll find spicy kick and sweetness, along with a satisfying crunch from the homemade breadcrumbs. The Nutella-banana spring rolls are mandatory for dessert.
Photo courtesy of @MangiaWithMatteo
2 Bridge St, Ardsley
Right next to Ardsley’s well-known Riviera Bakery, you’ll find a warm neighborhood establishment filled with loyal customers. At Stagioni, you can get slices and pies on-the-go — try the Marmellata, made with mozzarella, goat cheese, caramelized onions, fig jam, and prosciutto — or sit down at one of the 10 tables for meal where you’ll feel right at home.
Order: The homemade potato gnocchi Liguria is filled with welcome surprises. Topped with pesto, soft eggplant, homemade ricotta, and fresh basil, the entire dish melts in your mouth.
Photo courtesy of Zero Otto Nove
55 Old Rte 22, Armonk
The Bronx and Manhattan locations of this classic, Italian-American restaurant may steal the spotlight, but with outdoor seating and a gold-tile oven that reaches up to 800 degrees, the Westchester branch of Zero Otto Nove will make wonder why you ever went anywhere else.
Order: Don’t sleep on the special mafalde in cartoccio. Cooked in tin foil with vodka Bolognese and burrata, the server will cut and plate it at the table. Make sure to drop by 089’s booming rustic bar for an after-dinner cocktail like the tiramisù martini.
501 Halstead Ave, Mamaroneck
Fiamma is the epitome of “old-school” with dimmed lights, a chalkboard menu, and black tablecloths. The specialties are homemade pasta like tagliatelle Bolognese and intriguing appetizers, such as brown-sugar-bacon steak with roasted corn. Only open Thursday to Saturday so the menu is always fresh and changing, having a meal here feels like an exclusive experience.
Must-try: The lobster manicotti in a pink crab sauce is an innovative spin on traditional lobster ravioli. You can’t leave without the Nutella zeppole for dessert.