By John Bruno Turiano with Samantha Garbarini
It should come as no surprise that we eat out a lot, and have strong opinions about which restaurants we love. This year for the first time, we’ve turned those opinions into a ranking (gulp!) of the county’s very best. The 36 we selected — a mix of celebrity chef-driven hotspots, perennial favorites, and lesser-known gems — represent the true elite (indeed, just 6 percent of our more than 600 full-service restaurants). These are the places where the food, service, décor, and ambience all combine into a can’t get-enough-of-it dining experience.
Co-owned by Dan, David, and Laureen Barber, two-Michelin-star Blue Hill puts forward social messages about food and farming but also a gastronomic one: Make food that’s memorable, delicious, and originally presented. Situated on 80 acres of pasture and cropland, it’s the truest iteration of a farm-restaurant symbiosis.
In the four-hour tasting menu (expect 25–30 dishes), every artistically plated bite is meant to maximize those tenets. Roasted nectarines are so simple, they make you wonder why they’re better than any nectarine you’ve ever had before, and new flavors, like the meat of the sunflower stalk, challenge your definition of what’s edible and delicious.
The service only heightens the experience, imbuing every course with a touch of graceful theatricality. Be warned: There’s only one menu, and it’s priced at $258 per person. It’s expensive, to be sure, but not insanely priced when you realize you’re paying for dinner and a show the likes of which you’ve never experienced before.
Awards Alert: The restaurant is ranked 11th on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List and was named the Best Restaurant in America by Eater in 2016.
Editor’s Note: Starting in 2021, executive chef/co-owner Dan Barber stepped away from the kitchen and implemented a rotating chef-in-residence concept, having four guest chefs take the helm each season.
There’s a buzz of excitement at the presence of Chef Peter Kelly, whether he’s greeting patrons at his glass-walled New American restaurant with 25-foot-high ceilings, all set on a Victorian pier, or fielding questions onstage at some wine-and-food festival. The adulation isn’t superficial culinary idolatry but straightforward admiration for a chef — one sans a formal culinary education — that’s created a dining destination where a negative experience is almost unheard of. The space is a mix of modern and comfort: roomy tables, with each seat offering miles of river views, symmetrical lines, varying textural elements (stone, wood, and metal) and bursting floral arrangements. There are so many dishes on the American/world-ingredient-flecked menu to recommend; if pressed, we’d go with the grilled Portuguese octopus, braised beef short ribs, side of wild mushroom risotto, and butterscotch pudding. And the magnificent meals are delivered by a staff so smooth, you’ll forget they’re on the clock.
Bang for Your Buck: Brunch is typically a bountiful meal, sure, but X2O takes it to a new level, with unlimited Champagne, breads, and multiple butlered trays, including coconut shrimp and wild mushroom ravioli, plus three plated courses — for $45.
There’s an unhurried step to the patrons at this picturesque 18th-century homestead and transporting slice of Americana, with nary a smartphone in use, save for snapping pics in front of the many Instagram-worthy backdrops: the slope of terraced fields, oil painters at their easels, a Colonial hearth-lit bar beneath a darkwood-beamed ceiling, and baskets of artisan foods at the Purdy’s Farm Market. The kitchen gets near-daily deliveries of mostly East Coast seafood (co-owner Edward Taylor has a wholesale-fish business), so delight in bracingly scrumptious oysters; succulent swordfish with homemade sausage and field greens (most produce comes from the adjacent four-acre farm); a buttery, overflowing lobster roll; and likely the best fish ’n’ chips this side of London.
Sustainability Star: Pre-consumer food waste is composted; a 4,000-gallon rainwater tank captures water from the greenhouse gutters and is used for hydroponic growing; and they make their own fertilizer with seaweed and unused fish parts.
The bulk of world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s 40-or-so restaurants are in big cities, like New York, LA, Paris, Tokyo, and Dubai, lushly appointed fine-dining enclaves fit for most special-occasion meals. The Inn at Pound Ridge, however, set in an 1833 white clapboard house in the country meadows of one the county’s rural corners, bends casual, with servers in plaid shirts and an egalitarian menu of superbly executed, artfully presented salads, pizzas, pastas, roasted fish, organic chicken, and Berkshire pork chops. The standout homemade desserts are comfort-chic (yuzu ice cream is served atop warm cherry pie), and the contemporary-meets-country interior of wide-plank flooring, paper-shaded Edison bulbs, zinc and marble, neutral walls, and modern furniture feels Zen-like, albeit with a high-class undercurrent.
Best Table: The 24-seat stone wine cellar for a private dining affair — it has no electricity, only candlelight.
“Eat Serious; Have Fun” is the motto at Chef David DiBari’s nose-to-tail, pork-loving restaurant that blares a rock playlist and has a reputation for putting offal (pig’s head donuts, bone-marrow rigatoni) center stage. But it’s the homey dishes — milky house-made mozzarella, tender meatballs, lamb Bolognese, creamy pastina, and crispy pork osso buco — that keep us coming back. If you’re here to “have fun,” some of the best bites are chalked onto the specials board: bucatini coated in a smooth foie-gras sauce, fried Brussels sprouts with puffed Parmesan cheese rinds, game-bird pie, or sweet-and-sour suckling pig.
Best Table: If you’re going on a weekend, make a reservation; while you’re at it, get a small group together and request the window-front table that once belonged to DiBari’s grandmother.
In a county with a preponderance of Italian restaurants, why is L’inizio worth singling out? It’s because the fresh pastas, like ricotta cavatelli with fennel-sausage Bolognese and brick-red tomato campanelle with charred corn, are sublime. It’s because Chef Scott Fratangelo seamlessly blends traditional Italian flavors with unexpected ingredients, like Chinese five-spice powder. It’s because pastry chef Heather Fratangelo’s desserts — seasonal semifreddi, earthy hazelnut brown-butter cake — are worth a reservation in their own right. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the wine list is reasonably priced, the service warm, the bar menu creative, and the dining experience entirely unpretentious. Honestly, what else do you need?
Bang for Your Buck: Get in on some of the weekly specials, like a $33 three-course menu Mondays to Wednesdays and family-style pasta for $36 on Sundays.
Editor’s Note: L’Inizio is temporarily closed following flooding from Hurricane Ida, but will reopen at a future date.
Good ingredients make good food. It’s something that’s said all the time, but at Burrata — where the pizza dough is made with stone-ground New York State flour; the tomatoes are imported from a cooperative of small farmers in San Marzano, Italy; the sea salt is Sicilian; and the cappelletti are filled with buffalo-milk ricotta — you can taste the difference. The menu runs the gamut, from appetizers like porcini-rubbed ribs to Neapolitan-style pizzas (get the J. Sexton No. 2; it’s like a Margherita on steroids) to butter-bathed fresh pastas. Trust us when we tell you it’s all excellent.
Drink Smart: Don’t overlook the Liquid Kitchen menu; the craft cocktails are some of the best you’ll find in the county.
A sister restaurant to Crabtree’s Kittle House (No. 15), RiverMarket oozes a farm-to-table ethos, from the front-room market proffering NYS farmstead cheeses and Hudson Valley grass-fed butter to the plethora of local purveyors dotting the menu to the wine list slanted toward biodynamic selections. From the kitchen, expect gorgeously composed salads, house-made pastas, delicious roasted local duck and chicken, and playfully homespun desserts. The vibe is modest refinement, with splendid decorative stone, brick, and reclaimed wood (dig the ceiling made from mushroom-growing crates). No matter what else, remember these four words: lobster a la Bourguignonne.
Easy-to-Miss Menu Item(s): The county’s best choice of elective pizza toppings, including house-made meatballs, artisan pepperoni, Montauk littlenecks, Sicilian anchovies, and Maine lobster.
For South County folks who think North Salem is too far of a drive, this farmhouse charmer waving a flag of intense locavorism and dispensing thoughtful small plates and homespun entrées ought to change your mind. The connections to area farms, Cabbage Hill in Mount Kisco among them, ensures the ingredients are as fresh as possible, and traces of global influences (e.g., tahini, chimichurri, tamarind, wakame) throughout the menu of American comfort favorites add enlivening twists to typically routine dishes. The kitchen understands clever plating, but no surprise here — Chef Beck Bolender was previously executive sous chef at Manhattan’s acclaimed Jean-Georges. Reclaimed oak tables, tobacco wool, steel-frame chairs, a white-marble bar, and vintage pendant lighting dictate modish country elegance.
Signature Dish: The whole cauliflower, charred in the wood-fired oven and placed atop a pool of goat cheese and drizzled with sherry vinaigrette, is tender and delicious.
Set in an exposed-brick 1903 former grain warehouse with 30-foot-high ceilings, immense spherical chandeliers, and high-back booths, the striking interior is a fitting backdrop for this seafood stunner. Flappingly fresh market fish, steamed lobsters (up to 4 lbs), glistening seafood towers, a creative selection of mussel pots, and what may be the most extensive and freshest raw bar in the county will have even decisive seafood fans rattled at what to order.
Bang for Your Buck: There are $1 oysters, $7 wines and craft cocktails, $4 beers, and a host of tasty small bites (order the house-made pâté and the house-cured gravlax) at the Wine & Brine Happy Hour.
There are many elements that elevate Kittle House to top-tier: the charming 13-room B&B, the Wine Spectator Grand Award wine list, the events team that creates bang-up celebrations on sweeping surrounds, one of the best Sunday brunches countywide, a kitchen that for years (before it became food-industry-fashionable to do so) has focused on local ingredients and keeping strong connections to area farmers. Dining here is an adult experience, a bit dressy and mannerly yet relaxed. House-smoked fish, Hudson Valley Muscovy duck breast, and Kittle Krack Pie is a three-course meal to remember.
Sustainability Star: Surplus food is regularly donated; they have a composting partnership with Ridgefield Farm and use an in-house filtration system to reduce reliance on bottled sparkling water.
An absinthe fountain pour and plate of house charcuterie. A marble-topped table under a pressed-tin ceiling. One might think they’ve landed in Bordeaux or Lyon. Instead, it’s a Rivertown bistro with a menu of outstanding French classics (soul-warming coq au vin, heady steak frites), as well as reinterpretations (duck-broth onion soup with Gruyère croutons). A sexy date-night can be had at the mahogany bar with some stellar briny oysters and a bottle from the all-French wine list.
The sideboards showcasing seasonal flowers and produce in this vault-ceilinged contemporary space are a tip-off to the kitchen’s sincere commitment to the local sourcing of Modern American cuisine. Chef Ethan Kostbar ensures consistent plates that meld American comfort with global culinary inspirations, while wine director Edgar Balagot maintains a terroir-driven bottle program. Don’t be reluctant to order the roasted Freebird entrée — it surpasses the typical mundane restaurant chicken dish by many, many clucks.
Restaurant Sibling: While not quite ready for this list, White Plains’ City Limits (also from Livanos Restaurant Group) is nonetheless a Westchester County institution.
Chef Michael Psilakis, who helped Manhattan’s Anthos win a Michelin star in 2010, has since built a six-restaurant (plus a Brooklyn event space) hospitality mini-empire, including this Greek taverna with modern sensibilities. His cooking has been called New Aegean cuisine; we simply call it outstanding. Foodie dreams are made of the smoky grilled octopus flashing slightly charred edges, expertly prepared whole fish dressed simply with lemon and olive oil, and “smashed fries” that’ll put to shame any other fried-potato side.
Signature Dish: One of the lower-priced entrées ($18.95), the light and pillowy dumplings mixed with bits of spicy lamb sausage, sun-dried tomato, pine nuts, spinach, and feta is also their best.
One of the county’s true modern-dining adventures, Sonora is well-respected Colombian chef Rafael Palomino’s culinary love letter to Nuevo Latino cuisine. The menu offers upmarket takes on dishes hailing from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. Even the basic quesadilla gets a glossy remake: shredded duck, roasted peppers, and smoked Gouda cheese served with roasted corn salsita and pomegranate reduction. One would be remiss not to order a glass from the well-conceived beverage program.
Yelpers Rave About: The seafood paella with shrimp, clams, mussels, lobster, chorizo, and saffron rice, topped with sofrito sauce.
Bring your friend who declares: “I don’t like seafood!” to taste the wondrous things Chef Brian Galvin does with the ocean’s bounty. Galvin avoids the mistake of many a seafood house, where the fish is lost among heavy sauces and mile-high plating. Instead, a deft, gentle hand allows the seafood to shine, like in a magnificent grilled calamari with nothing more than olive oil and fresh lemon wedges on the plate, or moist and flavorsome crab-stuffed trout.
Recurring Special: Soft-shell crabs — the textbook balance of salty-sweet and crispy-tender.
Those wanting to indulge in a grand way — a timeless Italian fine-dining way — come to this county stalwart, complete with bow-tie-clad waiters, a garden waterfall, and seats that oft contain politicos, judges, and myriad other powerbrokers. Service and the timing of courses are as smooth as the slices of soppressata, brought gratis (along with Parmigiano-Reggiano chunks, bruschetta, and a host of other antipasti), before menus are delivered. The cuisine slants north on the boot, so expect butter- and cream-centric sauces, lots of Gorgonzola, silken risottos, and veal-based dishes, along with the pasta and pesci.
Must-Order: The gamberi, or shrimp, in any one of four-or-so dishes, the biggest and juiciest your lips will ever kiss.
Restaurant Sibling: One could make a strong case that Little Kabab Station, another of Chef Bonnie Saran’s “Little” empire, should be on this list, too.All restaurants should offer food this tasty yet inexpensive (most dishes don’t reach $10). The food-cart fare of Paris and Mumbai inspire a menu of sweet or savory crêpes, frankie rolls (Indian grilled-bread wraps), steaming rice bowls dressed in creamy marinades, vada pav (potato patties with mint and garlic chutneys), and fresh juices and smoothies. Egalitarian dining is standard here: au pairs, office workers, preshow Jacob Burns moviegoers, and alpha moms share the tiny space that oozes a street-funk vibe (we love the paint-can light fixtures).
The majority of county Indian restaurants are indistinguishable from the last: garish décor and heavy use of oils and ghee. In contrast is this understated pair, which live up to the “modern” moniker with dishes that don’t rely as much on fats yet are rich, complex, and fragrant (spices are roasted in-house). You’d be hard-pressed to find a superior seafood dish than the tandoori tiger shrimp. Local sourcing is in place and extends beyond the kitchen to the bar, where New York-centric craft beer and wine lists are on offer.
Flexible Kitchen: Not seeing your desired dish on the menu? Assuming the ingredients are readily available, the chefs will prepare it for you.
Step into the natural-light-filled dining room with white tablecloths and fine plateware for a primer on inventively plated New American cuisine featuring local ingredients. And don’t worry: Despite the classy dining interior and multiple James Beard Award nominations, there’s no fine-dining pretense; instead, it’s a genuine enthusiasm radiating from the staff for restaurant’s mission of sustainability and farm-fresh fare. The creative, delicious plates on the oft-changing menu (largely based on whatever the farmers drop off) include seasonal selections such as sweet potato agnolotti and Montauk tilefish with lentils, shiitake, and fennel.
Casual Sibling: Across the street is North’s market/café for local jams, breakfast burritos, grain bowls, and artisan sandwiches.
An original, fun concept and cool without trying to be, owner Hassan Jarane’s ode to world foods is part gourmet-food shop (the front) and part eclectic world-cuisine restaurant (the back). Wend your way around the globe past barrels of fleshy Mediterranean olives, jars of amazing dried fruit, and chock-a-block shelves with Swedish lingonberry preserves, Greek olive oil, and English biscuits. The menu is similarly diverse, with warm tuna Niçoise, jambalaya rice, and grilled octopus salad, plus noteworthy specials, like mussels with boar sausage in a stout broth. Pair your meal with expertly made Moroccan mint tea or one of the many Belgian beers.Turophile Alert: The front market offers superior cheeses, including a caramelized onion cheddar you’ll shove Grandma aside to grab.
This is not your corner pizza joint. The cocktails are pre-bottled in glass flasks; there are “Legalize Marinara” shirts hanging on the walls; the pizza — tender, charred Neapolitan-style rounds — is topped with bone marrow, eggs, and everything-bagel spice or thinly sliced lemon. It should come as no surprise this pizza authority is a sibling to The Cookery (No.5).
Sweet Ending: Bring three friends and order the Pizza Ice Cream Sandwich, a giant round of dough filled with nine scoops of vanilla ice cream, Nutella crunch, and bacon-caramel popcorn.
Within a cozy and serene temple-like space is the antithesis of the wan, sugary offerings at the typical neighborhood Thai joint. Durian does Thai fare justice, respecting the delicate balance between sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy, combining disparate components into harmonious dishes and aptly using robust aromatics. Try the addictive sautéed chive dumplings, modish green-curry pizza, yum khun chieng salad with Thai sausage and cucumber in a sweet-smelling lime-garlic dressing, and the gingery, earthy khing sauté.
Sweet endings: Durian’s sweet sticky rice with fresh durian and crullers with pandan pot de crème are both exceptional.
Otherworldly pastas — like fusilli with summer squash in a pistachio-mint pesto or cavatelli with smoked bacon and farm egg — plus boards of tender, spicy, salty salumi and formaggi in all its buttery, nutty, earthy forms, are the warranted headliners at this intimate 75-seat bistro. A costar to the gussied-up homestyle Italian offerings is the well-considered, moderately sized wine list (including about 20 by the glass) and the interior, including a decorative-tile ceiling, exposed brick, and hex tile that oozes European charm.
Sweet Ending: The fudgy chocolate fuso, served with vanilla gelato and intensely sweet-tart Amarena cherries, is bravissimo!
Daily forays to the New Fulton Fish Market are evident in the brightly flavored and clean-tasting seafood dishes at this 30-year-old, all-things-ocean restaurant that was birthed as an offshoot of an eponymous fish market a few doors down. Some of the standout offerings include fleshy mussels, golden and crisp fish ’n’ chips, crispy wild octopus with shaved fennel, and pan-seared golden snapper in a velvety mustard beurre blanc sauce. Desserts, like a multi-berry Napoleon, are sweet wonders.
Bang for the Buck: The year-round Monday Night Lobster Special cages a 1½ pound steamed, cracked lobster, with a baked potato and coleslaw, for $31.
The space is an unassuming banquet hall set in the first floor of the Residence Inn White Plains, yet the fare bursts with authentic Cantonese flavors: lots of ginger, garlic, scallion, bean curd, and fresh seafood (the salt-and-pepper shrimp with baby bok choy is a standout). The bustle of lunchtime dim sum is the best time to dine, where cart ladies proffer mini-bamboo steamers of soft, pork-laden shu mai; craggy-textured eggrolls; delicate, purse-like soup dumplings; deep-fried sweet pork dumplings; and savory turnip cakes. Gloppy, greasy strip-mall Chinese food no more!
Sweet Ending: Sesame balls are sticky-soft treats, often eaten between savory bites of the dim-sum meal.
Yes, the service can be notoriously crabby; the parking is often nightmarish; and you’ll have to pay cash. But for one of these near-perfect, ultra-thin, hot-from-the-oven pies (don’t even think about ordering takeout), all those hurdles are so worth it. Johnny’s truly does one of the world’s great food icons to perfection. Open since 1942, Johnny’s breaks all the rules with its old-fashioned pies — sliced, pasteurized mozzarella on the bottom, crushed tomatoes on top — and that’s exactly the way we like it.
Signature Dish: Order pizza; anything else is a mistake because, well, that means you’re not having the pizza.
At a glance, it’s pizza, pasta, and meatballs, Italian comfort standards done well, using local/natural ingredients (the truffled carbonara is a rigatoni cognoscenti’s dream). A bit deeper look, though, and an audacious gourmand mind is at work in the kitchen, offering original specials such as gnudi in chicken liver sugo and cured salmon with julienned fennel, Fuji apple, and yuzu vinaigrette. The space, decked out coolly in a reclaimed wood, farm-to-table aesthetic, has tight seating but another nibble of a honeyed eggplant chip and you really won’t care.
Special Specials: Peruse the blackboard for saffron cream spaghetti with bacon, zucchini, and roasted cherry tomatoes.
There’s a grown-up authenticity to the farm-to-table — or, more fittingly, farm-to-tandoori — Indian fare of Chef Navjot Arora. Wholesome ingredients, such as free-range lamb, wild seafood, antibiotic-free chicken, non-bromated unbleached organic flour, and local produce are used to create tart chutneys, complex sauces, fluffy and sweet-scented naan, juicy tandoori-cooked meats, and plump, flaky-crusted samosas. The whole-roasted pompano — a showstopper.
Cooking Classes: Does your aloo gobi come out tasting like aloo matar? The first Monday of every month, Chef Arora holds interactive classes ($55 and includes dinner).
What’s great about Fortina is less the cool-kid vibe than it is that co-owners John Nealon and Rob Krauss have found a way to turn Nonna nostalgia into a restaurant concept — and make it fun. While the pizza enjoys much hype, don’t miss the rest of the menu, which oscillates between take-you-back, red-sauce classics, and wood-fired dishes that feel just like Italia. The celebrity chef Christian Petroni stepped away from the business in late 2020, Fortina still retains much of his signature hip attitude.
Signature Dish: The famous Luigi Bianco pie features an almost ungodly amount of black-truffle purée.