If you've been to Zero Otto Nove on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx (I sought it out a few years ago; there’s another in Manhattan), you remember the Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza and regional classics at this Roman-style trattoria—and now you can have them right here (hint: run, don’t walk!). Chef Robert Paciullo, who also owns Roberto’s in the Bronx, has redesigned the former Route 22 Restaurant and Bar in the same vein as his other restaurants. And though we would rather be on Arthur Avenue than on a bucolic street in Armonk, step in and you almost are, though it lacks the Bronx’s bi-level structure that feels like a Donizetti stage set. Here, though, the parking lot is surrounded with cords of wood, ready to stoke the pizza oven (and your appetite).
Every corner is decorated for maximum impact, with vaulted ceilings, mottled walls, and a gleaming, gold-tiled bar. The menu resembles those at the other locations—and more important, the food is just as great. An appetizer of sautéed fava beans, artichokes, and cacio cheese (melted atop crusty bread and scattered over the rest of the dish) was perfectly cooked, with balanced flavors. The pizza dubbed La Cirilo—butternut squash, cream of truffle, mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella—is one of the best pizzas in Westchester right now. The La San Matteo (fresh mozzarella, broccoli rabe, and sausage) is another good choice; the Marinara was on the slightly austere side, possibly the fault of my anchovy-eschewing dining companion. Pepper fiends like me will appreciate the pepper grinder on every table.
Beyond many pizzas, the menu includes a wide range of tempting antipasti (e.g., sautéed calamari with yellow and red peppers, black olives, and capers), pastas (including their well-known pasta al forno), and entrées (free-range, brick-oven-baked Cornish hen; short ribs braised in Peroni beer sauce and cherry peppers). Classic desserts include cannoli filled to order. To drink, Peroni on draft, cocktails, and a well-considered selection of wines by the glass (not all Italian, as in the Bronx; leaning toward California).
According to Chef Paciullo, this is supposed to be more of a family, Sunday dinner type of place than nearby Fortina and Restaurant North (Armonk having become quite the dining destination). But it opened only about a week ago and is already filled with well-heeled foodies on the trail. The name, by the way? It’s the area code of Salerno, Naples, Paciullo’s hometown.