Westchester’s Elite Yelp-Users Share Their Insights on the County’s Food Scene

With their sights set directly on Westchester, six elite Yelpers dish on the ins and outs of the local food scene.

Yelp editors bestow a select few Yelp users—those with a certain frequency and quality of reviews—“Elite” status.  The reward for all those hours typing away on their laptops? Invites to monthly Yelp parties and the occasional Yelp swag (Yelp hoodie, anyone?). So, no, Elite Yelpers don’t receive any monetary payment—it’s an affair of the heart (er, stomach).

Amanda Grey-Rodriguez, 33, radiology imaging
Resident of Yonkers
Yelping since February 2011
Best Westchester Food: Crostini at Fig & Olive in Scarsdale

Rate the Westchester Food Scene on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is lowest, 10 is the highest). I’ll say it’s an 8 or 9 because there are a lot of farm-to-table places here. You can get stuff that’s grown less than 10 miles from where you’re eating it.
What’s your biggest concern about the local food scene? Service. Certain places have staff who forget why they are doing what they are doing. Poor service is a major hindrance for me to return to that establishment.

Pokei Shaw, 42, principal court analyst for Bronx County Family Court
Resident of Elmsford
Yelping since February 2011
Best Westchester Greek Restaurant: Eliá Taverna in Bronxville

What’s your biggest guilty-pleasure Westchester food? At Karamba Café in White Plains, they have roasted pig with crunchy skin, and it’s fall-off-the-bone pork that is intense in flavor.
If you could have any food-related superpower, what would it be? To be able to eat and never get fat!
Who’s your favorite celebrity food personality and why? Curtis Stone from TLC’s Take Home Chef. He is so hot! Love to watch him cook.

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Antonella Pomilla, 36, consumer electronics researcher
Resident of Yonkers
Yelping since June 2011
Best Westchester Restaurant: Restaurant North in Armonk
Best Pizza: Polpettina in Eastchester

What inspires you to Yelp? I feel like I have a lot to offer because I’m a self-trained cook and baker, and I even make homemade wine. I’ve been blogging for the Journal News for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week since 2010. Yelp gives me an avenue to express my opinions.
What’s your biggest concern about the local food scene? I’d like to see fewer chains. Seems like everything in Ridge Hill is a chain restaurant. Central Avenue, too. They have so much potential, and we are also lacking more ethnic variety. I’d also like to see more progressive restaurants.
What’s your biggest guilty-pleasure Westchester food item? I have a wicked sweet tooth. I just discovered the Banana Nutella Crunch Muffin at Cooked & Co. in Scarsdale.

Jeff Stark, 36, freelance writer, author, and stay-at-home dad
Resident of White Plains
Yelping since January 2009
Best Thing to Eat in Westchester: Aged beef au jus sandwich with mozzarella, mushrooms, and onions at Melt in White Plains

Do you consider yourself a foodie? Why or why not? Even though I love delicious food and great restaurant experiences, I would never call myself a foodie. I think the term is an overused cliché, and those who call themselves foodies are a bit pretentious.
Do you need to be able to cook to be a good food reviewer? I don’t think cooking ability and reviewing ability are intertwined at all. I think it’s far more important to have a refined palate than anything else. Whether or not you can precisely mix ingredients is less important than knowing what’s quality and what’s not.

Jennifer Bellantese, 37, surgical physician’s assistant
Resident of Yonkers
Yelping since December 2009
Best Westchester Fine Dining: Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua

Do you cook? If yes, what’s your best dish? Absolutely! I make a good pad Thai. I had a Thai au pair for two years and she taught me step by step.
What’s your biggest concern about the local food scene? The pricing shouldn’t be comparable to New York City. It sets up great expectations and then people will come out saying ‘That wasn’t up to par.’

Chris Josephson, 31, fundraiser
Resident of Yonkers
Yelping since November 2009
Best Westchester Breakfast: Scotch eggs (hardboiled eggs wrapped in sausage and deep-fried) at The Butcher’s Fancy on McLean Avenue in Yonkers

How did you get into Yelp? When I moved to Yonkers about four years ago, I didn’t know where to go out to eat so I searched the restaurants on the Internet, and Yelp reviews would pop up and I found them really helpful.
What’s the best thing you ever ate in Westchester? The house-made pierogies at Yonkers Miasarnia Polish-Ukrainian deli on Lockwood Avenue in Yonkers. They have a prune pierogi and it’s sweet and absolutely delicious. It sounds like it wouldn’t be good, but it will surprise you.
If you could have any food-related superpower, what would it be? The ability to avoid licorice—the only food I hate—at all costs. Licorice always surprises me in horrible ways.

Seth Dellon, 28, works in publishing
Resident of Tarrytown
Yelping since 2009
Best Ice Cream: Main Street Sweets in Tarrytown

Do you cook?  Not really. My wife is the cook. I’m more of the marinater. We make a good skirt steak.
If you had one last day to dine in Westchester, where would you go? Homestyle Dessert Bakery in Peekskill for an incredible black-and-white cookie. They find the balance between cookie and cake and the icing is fresh. It’s also a good deal. My boss and I would go and get six cookies and they would last half a day.
What’s the most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten in Westchester? At The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, I had chicken butt and duck tongue.
If you could have any food-related superpower, what would it be? I wish I knew when meat was done without having to cut it.

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