Not Your Average Italian Joint

Lenny’s Seafood and Steakhouse in Larchmont serves up classic Italian fare with a hard-to-find casual elegance.

Lenny’s Italian Seafood and Steakhouse is the kind of restaurant every town wants but very few are lucky enough to have. It’s the kind of place that’s equally worthy of an anniversary dinner, a date night or just catching up with friends. Lenny’s brings casual elegance to Larchmont through both the food they serve and the atmosphere they provide, without sliding into the snooty airs that haunted upscale restaurants of yesteryear.

Every night there is a lengthy list of specials. It’s easy to zone out after the first few options, but listen so that you don’t miss out on an appetizer of sinfully creamy burrata with grilled eggplant and tomatoes (somehow sweet even in the middle of winter) or eggplant rollatini stuffed with a creamy ricotta filling and topped with just a dot of melted mozzarella, nestled in a sweet tomato sauce that straddles both sweet and acidic. If you are sticking with the standard menu, start out with a few bites off the raw bar or, if you prefer your bivalves baked, opt for clams casino, whole clams stuffed with flavorful, moist breadcrumbs and bacon. It’s always the right time for a glass of wine; choose from a lengthy list of bottles or pick from seven or eight reasonably priced wines by the glass that are always drinkable.

As a steak-and-seafood restaurant, it’s not surprising that proteins rule the menu. And while you’ll never go wrong with the large portions of perfectly cooked meats, like earthy grilled lamb chops or shoebox-size pieces of tender, aged steaks, make it a point to try some of the homemade pastas, like the black linguine topped with a mélange of seafood, including Maine lobster, mussels, clams, and tender calamari. Lenny’s serves up all of the comfort food you won’t find at a standard Italian American spot—there’s not a chicken Parm in sight. Instead, fork-tender braised short ribs with creamy, cheesy, mushroom risotto is made in the classic Italian style, with simple ingredients that introduce you to a new level of comfort food.

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Balance out the meat with classic Italian sides, like velvety, rich polenta, roasted wild mushrooms, or garlicky escarole with white beans. While the creamed spinach was delicious, it was not the creamed spinach in the traditional steakhouse sense, but more of a fantastically sautéed spinach with some Parmesan melted over the top. The lobster home fries with leeks and truffles was a surprising disappointment: Fresh lobster that had so perfectly topped the black linguine was nothing like the shriveled bits mixed in with slightly soggy fried potatoes. The takeaway here is to stick with the Italian dishes that are consistently superb and stay away from anything that’s trying to fit in with the boys’ club steakhouse.

Finish the night off with a bite of something sweet. On weekends, eat early enough to ensure a tartufo for the table; it’s not unheard of for the restaurant to be sold out on a Saturday night. If you’re not so lucky, the cannoli filling is perfectly tangy and balances out the sweet and crunchy shell. Italian ricotta cheesecake is a winner, as is the tart Key lime pie. You’ll probably want to loosen your belt at this point, and we’re not judging, because we did, too.

Aside from the food, the staff at Lenny’s makes the meal memorable: They’re polite yet quick with a joke and are happy to make recommendations. From the good humor and attention paid by the wait staff to being checked in on by owner Lenny (also owner of the popular Il Castello in Mamaroneck) as he makes his rounds for the evening, it’s almost impossible to leave the restaurant in bad spirits.

Décor is not the focus of the restaurant. There are no statements to be made, just the continuation of the casual elegance that permeates the restaurant. Aside from a large bouquet of flowers, a few paintings and some decorative vases, Lenny allows the white tablecloths and the food that will soon be placed on top to speak for themselves. If you show up on a weekend night without a reservation, wait it out at the blue-lit bar with a cocktail.

If the winter weather is still hanging on when you’re reading this, be prepared: Both a built-in vestibule and plastic wind guards protecting the entrance don’t prevent the chilly dining at the front of the house, and you’ll need to brace yourself for the cold waiting in the bathrooms.

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But if you’re at Lenny’s, you’re there to eat—and eat well you will. Come hungry and be delighted with the new version of upscale dining that Lenny’s has perfected.

Food 3.5/4 | Service 3.5/4 | Atmosphere 3/4 | Cost $$$$

Lenny’s Seafood and Steakhouse
2047 Boston Post Rd.
(914) 630-7800

Julie Ruggirello is a food writer, recipe editor and digital recipe manager. She has worked in restaurants and written for food publications including Food Network, Cooking Channel, The Daily Meal, and Saveur.

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