South Salem, one of five hamlets that make up the Town of Lewisboro, is not a place many think of as a dining destination. However, there is a family-run Italian restaurant, La Vista, which is worth the drive (about a half hour from White Plains).
Previously Nino’s Restaurant, the interior has been updated with an impressive stone fireplace, French doors leading to an inviting patio, a wine cellar, and 25-foot granite-top bar. An herb and vegetable garden lines much of the exterior of the building, heralding the kitchen’s commitment to fresh ingredients.
The chef and owner Ramy Hoti came to the US at the age of 17 (he was one of 14 children!) and five years later owned his first restaurant. Prior to opening La Vista in 2016, Hoti owned Fino on 36th Street between Madison and Fifth for 12 years. “I’ve cooked for Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Roger Moore, and John Gotti.”
Meals start with a gratis plate of garden grown spicy peppers, olives, Parmesan, and a snowy-white house-made feta — the best I’ve had. There’s also a basket of warm pane di casa and an accompanying sundried tomato dip.
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The menu skews Northern Italian, with a fair number of veal dishes, quail and Cornish hen, risotto, and numerous butter/cream sauces. Of the pastas, the pappardelle, fettuccine, manicotti, and gnocchi are made in-house. The La Vista salad with bib lettuce, delicious poached pears, and Gorgonzola makes a worthy starter, and a special of pistachio-crusted sole is excellent.
For dessert, a house-made tiramisu and New York-style cheesecake are winning choices.
For those who like a bit of theater with their meal, Hoti and his staff are adept at tableside prep of dover sole, branzino, red snapper, striped bass, fettuccine Alfredo, and the warm, eggy Italian dessert, zabaione.
Hoti says besides Lewisboro, a good portion of his customers come from Connecticut (mostly Ridgefield and New Canaan).
It may be time for more county residents to discover this welcoming restaurant.
“I love cooking and making people happy,” says Hoti.
La Vista Ristorante Italiano
355 Smith Ridge Rd, South Salem
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