It’s not hard to make friends when you go around shaving truffles over things.
Soon after Le Sirene opened in Larchmont, a man swept into the bar after driving up from Manhattan. “He’s our Cheers customer,” said the bartender, Olga (who splits shifts between Larchmont and Manhattan). He lives next to Caravaggio, one of the three Upper East Side restaurants (in addition to Sistina and San Pietro) where owners Gerardo and Cosimo Bruno made their names.
He wasn’t the only regular lured by the siren song of what used to be Palmer’s Crossing, now a pearlescent retreat of marble and tile, with staff dressed to the nines and roses and chocolates by the door. One couple near me had frequented it since it was Baja Grill (and whatever it was before that), always sitting at the bar. “When my wife and I were dating, she lived around the corner,” he said. “It wasn’t about the food so much.”
It wasn’t before, but it’s more so now. We don’t want just upscale Italian, we want regions—here, explore Southwestern Italy via Salerno (the owners’ hometown) and Rome (that of Chef Stefano Gentili) and wade into corresponding wines and beers. I started with a glass of Vermentino and a bar-menu Neapolitan pizza with salami, artichokes, and olives from a gleaming wood-burning oven at the end of the bar. No char, but nice chew; not enough to distract entirely from the breadsticks, which have some magic secret ingredient (truffle oil?). None of us at the bar were interested in the sports on TV but were impressed with a soccer ball signed by Pelé (as well as the collection of whiskies from StilltheOne Distillery).
Bombolini (Italian donuts) made with ricotta
The lettuce soup with corn cookie, a special I’d been thinking about ordering, had been “86”ed for the evening, so I settled on yellowfin tuna crudo with baby greens and buffalo mozzarella, a combination of popular elements that seemed designed by committee but worked texturally. I thought that was it for me, until I recalled another special: risotto with shaved black truffles, which the Manhattan restaurants are known for (one offers general truffle shaving for a surcharge). An irresistible half order for $30 (compared to $45) was plenty—and perfection. Olga’s suggested wine pairing of Greco di Tufo couldn’t have been a better complement or more refreshing. For larger appetites, entrées range from chicken breast roasted in a fresh herb crust with crispy sweet peppers, pine nuts, and raisins to grilled, sliced, dry-aged rib-eye steak with arugula, shaved Parmesan, and olive oil.
Desserts skew classic but include now-trendy bombolini (Italian donuts). Think they’re too greasy or that you’re tired of them? Think again—these (made with ricotta) are the largest, fluffiest, best ones I’ve had. Following that was some complimentary cantucci (biscotti), “baked moments ago” and tasting like it.
1957 Palmer Ave, Larchmont
(914) 834-8300; www.lesirene.webix.tv