What Makes Ardsley an Up-and-Coming Westchester Destination

One of the county’s smallest villages might also be the most up-and-coming.

As a native Ardsleyan, I can say that, for the majority of my life, the one-square-mile village, located smack-dab in the middle of Greenburgh, never had much of its own identity. It borrowed where it could, claiming to be a Rivertown, for example, despite having no actual physical connection to the Hudson River. Even its high school mascot, the Panther, was indistinct—there are at least five other schools in Westchester that also cheer for the Panthers at homecoming games. The village might as well have been called “Riviera Bakehouseville,” since that’s the only reason out-of-towners ever made a point of stopping by.

All that seems to be changing. New culinary offerings, family entertainment destinations, and even some attention from an A-list director and stars show that Ardsley is coming up in the world. Here, proof of the village’s recent hotness.

â–  There’s a Teeny, Half-Mile-Long Dining Scene
Before, Ardsley was synonymous with sushi, with local but dedicated followings for Sazan (729 Saw Mill River Rd 914-674-6015) and newcomer Ümami Sushi Restaurant & Bar (724 Saw Mill River Rd 914-231-9443; umamisushibar.com). But what’s really driving serious diners to the village is its new Italian eateries. Chef Shea Gallante cooked in the vaunted kitchens of Cru and his own Ciano, but, after work, he hangs his hat in Ardsley. That’s why he chose the village for his own Italian Kitchen (698 Saw Mill River Rd 914-693-5400; ik-ny.com). The restaurant has the small, quaint feel of a neighborhood joint, but the pastas pack a punch—there’s a reason his ravioli ended up on Eater.com’s “Pasta Hall of Fame.” Down the road, there’s La Catena (871 Saw Mill River Rd 914-231-9260; lacatenaardsley.com), the traditional yin to Italian Kitchen’s more modern yang. The waiters wear tuxedos, they serve favorites like eggplant rollatini—and the whole package received a “Worth It” from the New York Times.

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â–  There’s (Finally!) Something to Do with Kids
Unless they wanted to get a manicure or drop off some dry cleaning, kids had few options when it came to in-village activities. Now, intrepid individuals have turned a couple of old warehouses into dedicated entertainment destinations. In October, a 120,000-square-foot complex opened with the sole mission of running your kids ragged. House of Sports (1 Elm St 914-479-5419; houseofsportsny.com) is an indoor sports training facility where kids can learn how to be better basketball, baseball, and lacrosse players with state-of-the-art equipment under the direction of dedicated coaches. (Adults can take fitness classes too.) The coolest feature of the facility is the basketball “Shooting Lab,” where players can use software to calculate the optimal arc of the ball, and shots are recorded for instant feedback. If your kids aren’t team-sport joiners, there’s the similarly vast, 29,000-square-foot LIFE The Place To Be (2 Lawrence St 914-591-4400; lifetheplacetobe.com), where they can take on more solo endeavors, such as blasting their ways through the 3,000 square feet of arcade games. In addition to the arcade, the place sports bowling alleys, a rock-climbing wall, and laser tag. In my day, we had to trek all the way to Sportime USA in Elmsford for that fun stuff.

â–  Move Over, Hollywood
Once a neighborhood gets some heat to it, celebrities inevitably follow. The first to see and be seen in the village? None other than Martin Scorsese. While he was shooting his next film, The Wolf of Wall Street, early this fall, he staked out a spot right on Saw Mill River Road to do some filming, at a building that was most recently used as a temporary firehouse/city hall. The film’s stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, were in tow. No word on if any of them crossed the street to check out the Italian Kitchen, but I bet Marty would’ve loved the pasta there.

And, of course, that Riviera Bakehouse (660 Saw Mill River Rd 914-674-0000; the whimsicalbakehouse.com) is still open—and, if you’re going, pick me up some of their raspberry bars.

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