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Food & Drink – Editors' Picks

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New Small Plates Menu
Chiboust
Tarrytown (914) 703-6550
Sometimes you just don’t feel like chomping on a great big hunk of steak or dining on a whole roasted branzini. Sometimes you want to eat light—but you still want to eat well. Enter Chiboust, which we loved as a traditional fine-dining spot and now love even more for its small-plates menu. “We wanted to attract a new clientele that didn’t feel they had to have a three-course meal,” says owner and pastry chef Jill Rose. Love the crispy flatbreads, truffle-crusted macaroni and cheese, Wagyu burger, and asparagus and Mediterranean salt cod cakes with pickled watermelon.

Makeover
Auray Gourmet
Larchmont (914) 833-2274
Take a struggling, broom closet-sized French-centric cheese shop and relocate it to a space nearly 10 times its size; expand the menu to include from-scratch crêpes, heavenly panini, and homemade soups; hire a master French baker to whip up fresh baguettes and croissants; jam-pack your shelves with Teisseire flavored syrups and Carambar caramel candies, and add to your glorious selection of wonderful cheese, and what do you get? “A thriving business,” says owner Carolynn Dilworth. Right. And a winning one, at that.

Martini
Kickin’ Kabul Kraft Bistro
Bronxville (914) 337-4545
As long as you’re okay with a little heat in your cocktail, the Kickin’ Kabul at Kraft Bistro is a must-try martini. Plymouth Gin (earthy with a hint of smooth juniper) is infused with crushed fresh jalapeño muddled with raw sugar, finely diced cucumber, and a splash of garlic Tabasco. The balance of spicy and sweet is so energizing, it’s reason enough to bring back the three-martini lunch.

Brewer
Scott Vaccaro at Captain Lawrence Brewery
Pleasantville (914) 741-2337
We’re not the only fans of Scott Vaccaro. It seems many of you are into Vaccaro’s beer. Captain Lawrence Brewery has sold three times more beer this year than when it opened three years ago, more than 150 local restaurants serve Captain Lawrence beer, and, recently, the brewery began a bottling line. Can’t keep a good thing in the bottle!

No-Frills Throwback
Solano’s Lincoln Lounge
Mount Vernon (914) 664-9747
Sometimes nostalgia is what we crave—and there’s no better place in the county to be transported to the days when Sinatra was king, when blue-and-white-checkered plastic tablecloths were actually in fashion, when dark wood paneling was cool, and when “red-sauce Italian” wasn’t a put-down. Celebrating 59 years in business, the restaurant has been owned by Bob Solano’s family for its entire history. The geniality the staff emanates can keep you warm even in midwinter. And Lincoln Lounge has character (and a few characters, usually around the bar), quirks (like the woman who does a brisk business during dinner selling bootleg DVDs), and a retro menu offering Mama Solano’s pan pizza, made—how else?—in a brick oven.

Biscotti
Chappaqua Village Market
Chappaqua (914) 238-4948
This shop’s biscotti are a family affair—the recipe has been handed down for generations. The dough is made in small batches to ensure quality. The end product is nothing less than twice-baked heaven served up in a crisp and sweet cinnamon-vanilla-almond-flavored slab.

Comeback
Buffet de la Gare
Hastings (914) 478-1671
Gwenael and Annie Goulet were the beating heart of this iconic bistro for decades. Since they’ve retaken the reins, its pulse is livelier than ever. The layout may have changed a bit, but the charm and warmth still ooze like caramel syrup from crêpes Suzette. And speaking of food, the pork rillette, country pâté, vol-au-vent, cassoulet, and tarte Tatin are all balm for the Francophile soul. And stomach.

Neighborhood Café
Black Cat Café
Irvington (914) 231-9060
At this bright, cheery, Wi-Fi-friendly café, you’ll find writers glued to their Macs, kids dribbling ice cream, and seniors in for an afternoon read. You’ll also find robust Kenyan Blend coffee, addictive Dancing Deer cookies (try the chocolate tangerine), smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and weekend breakfasts of luscious French toast and bountiful burritos. The café is a staunch supporter of ethical foodways (local, artisan, and organic producers) and principle-minded companies (Fair Trade coffee suppliers, humanely raised meat producer Applegate Farms), as well as local talent who perform most Friday and Saturday evenings (catch James Wilson & Friends on July 24).

Restaurant Revamp
Rye Grill & Bar
Rye (914) 967-0332
For 19 whole months, we had to endure. Rye Grill & Bar was undergoing a huge rebirth—and we had to forego mussels in white-wine broth and sugarcane-glazed scallop salad and St. Louis ribs. Now, the Rye Grill has reopened, bigger and better than ever. Warning: the bar scene has been ratcheted up, so expect more competition from BlackBerry-wielding finance and golfer types for the Seven jean-clad divorcées sipping on MacMurray Pinots.

Tortilla Topper
Bean Dip at Fiesta Mexico
Ardsley (914) 478-4672
Gee, sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. We know we should “save room” for dinner (right, Mom?), but, come on, the warm, creamy (and free) bean dip Gerardo Ponce whips up every night is just too darned good. Ponce developed the recipe more than 15 years ago while working at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Florida whose owner begged him to come up with “something different.” He did—and we have been dipping demons since.

Old-School Chinese
Golden Wok Too
Ardsley (914) 693-2110
From the red lacquered furniture and blue porcelain dinnerware to the paper umbrellas garnishing some mighty potent mai tais, stepping into Golden Wok Too is like stepping back in time—and into a comfortingly familiar, sit-down Chinese restaurant—circa 1985. Yes, check your desires for haute Pan-Asian cuisine at your Wayback Machine, because here traditional fare—beef lo mein, pork fried rice, General Tso’s chicken—are the order of the day. With generous portions, fresh ingredients, a tranquil setting (gotta love the faux blue skylight), and a never-ending supply of freshly brewed oolong tea, Golden Wok Too is just right for those times your heart desires no pretense, no show, no architecture, and no fusion. And the hot towels and diced pineapple presented with the obligatory fortune cookies perfectly cap the retro experience.

Fresh Pasta
Dante’s
White Plains (914) 946-3609
What’s the secret of that pillowy ravioli? Partly, it’s the half-century-old Lombi pasta machine in the back. But it’s also the hands-on approach. “Depending on the humidity in the air,” says owner Anthony Perrotta, “the amount of water and eggs that go into the dough changes. You know it’s right by the feel with the hand.” And finally, it’s Perrotta’s commitment to his craft. The passionate pasta man is up by 3:00 am on Saturdays making the 100 boxes or so of ravioli he sells per week. The favorite? A basic cheese ravioli made with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano, Asiago, fresh parsley, eggs, and fresh ricotta from Calabro Farm in East Haven, Connecticut. Perrotta has a tip to spot poorly made ravioli. “If the ridges are too uniform, it was made using an industrial process.” At Dante’s, uniform ridges are something you’ll never see.

Cured Meats/Salume
Casa Brusco
Eastchester (914) 346-5170
Salty, unctuous, and smooth, cured meats are the perfect nibble with a glass of Dolcetto or Barbera. At Casa Brusco, you can pick from a top-notch selection—speck, prosciutto, mortadella, coppa—and add a cheese selection as well. If the comfortable and understated atmosphere of this café convinces you to stay on for a dish of pasta, grilled octopus, or a pizza after that, you’ll be more than welcome.

Most Fiery Dish
Lamb Phaal at Spice Village
Tuckahoe (914) 779-5400
Phaal (no, not vindaloo) is the spiciest form of curry. So only the most fearless, hot-tongued foodie should attempt Spice Village’s lamb phaal, a dish of tender lamb chunks, onions, tomatoes, ginger, and—here comes the fire—dried green chile peppers. When you order this dish of pure fire magic, make sure a basket of roti and naan bread and a tall, cool mango lassi are within reach.

Retro Décor
The Cabin
Greenburgh (914) 592-6682
cabinrestaurantny.com
What a trip down Memory Lane. The photos of the 1937 original and the log-cabin walls take you back to when a drive to Knollwood was a trip in the country to be punctuated by a meal at a no-frills roadhouse. There are very few such places left in the county, but The Cabin re-establishes some of the nostalgia with a stone bar (maybe you’d like a Shirley Temple?), a fireplace, and warm wood detailing. There are hybrids instead of old Fords in the parking lot, but the menu of updated, homey comfort food, such as shrimp cocktail, Black Angus meatloaf, or the crab cake BLT, put The Cabin on our roadmap.

Panini
Via Quadronno
White Plains (914) 288-9300
How do we love panini? Let us count the ways. At VQ, it’s…40, to be exact. After all, every one of the four-oh panini here is made with fresh-baked (on the premises) bread, imported Italian delicacies, and other imported cheeses and vegetables. We don’t have a favorite, but do try the La Madunina, stuffed with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, black-olive pâté, and fresh tomatoes, or the Bip-Bip panini, which combines bresaola, goat cheese, shrimp, and arugula in a delightful pink sauce.

Guacamole
Don Emilio at Lobo’s Café
Chappaqua (914) 238-2368
donemilioatloboscafe.com
Chef Jose Ramirez uses a recipe from his hometown Atlixco in Puebla, Mexico, to make this velvety guacamole, using a stone mortar and pestle to pound the fruit and fresh jalapeños, onions, a little cilantro, and some fresh lime juice to dress it all up. And whether you prefer it mild, medium, or hot, owner Don Emilio suggests a thirst-quenching Margarita to go with it.

Smoothies
Andy’s Pure Food

Rye (914) 967-2332
A smoothie, to most of us, is some milk or yogurt blended with a combo of fruits and sugar. At the mostly vegan, mostly organic Andy’s Pure Food, however, owner Andy Ozgur (a vegan for two years) has taken smoothies to another stratosphere using all organic produce and adding no sugar. There’s the “Energizing” smoothie, made with pineapple, strawberries, bananas, and newly celebrated goji juice (made from a Himalayan berry); the “Wheatgrass Wonder,” made with a mixture of wheatgrass, apple, celery, and goji juice; and the savory “Joy Blast,” combining apple, celery, kale, ginger, and fennel. Ozgur’s freshly blended smoothies adhere to his nothing-artificial mantra and are delicious and refreshing—no wonder they’re Ozgur’s biggest sellers.

Sirloin Steak
Frankie and Johnnie’s
Rye (914) 925-3500
Grade A. The best. When we crave a real hunk of meat, a 22-ounce, perfectly cooked, prime-aged sirloin, we head straight to Frankie and Johnnie’s—a carnivore’s dream come true.

Beer Selection
Lazy Boy Saloon
White Plains (914) 761-0272
With more than 400 types of beer from a Belgian monk-brewed Trappist to your basic Budweiser, Lazy Boy is the primo choice when you want to go knock back a coupla cold ones. While you’re there, munch on some of Lazy Boy’s award-winning chicken wings.

Catering/Meal Delivery Service
Erica’s Kitchen
Amawalk (914) 906-6892
In 2004, Erica Miller Wallace changed her life. She left behind a corporate career as a pharmaceutical trainer and turned to local food. Now her blissful, seasonal cooking, using the products of our region’s sustainable farms, will change your life, too. Order her savory tarts topped with figs and Rainbeau Ridge goat cheese or local butternut squash and thyme for lunch or cocktail fare. Her personal chef abilities can make a dinner party a piece of cake: fragrant spring lamb stew with lamb from Dashing Star Farm, or chicken, ramps, and asparagus quesadilla with John Boy’s Farm’s chicken. You even can arrange for this changing deliciousness to be delivered weekly in compostable containers. And all this happens with Erica’s sweetest, most easy-going smile.

Gin and Tonic
The Tap House
Tuckahoe (914) 337-6941
Back in the day, when sunburned colonists were picked off by malaria as they sweltered under pith helmets, the booze-loving Brits discovered the joys of gin and tonic. Turns out that the bitter, alkaline solution of quinine powder (which prevents mosquito-borne malaria) goes down better with a bit of sugar and a slug of gin. Skip wan squirt-gun versions of the classic Colonial quaff and hit The Tap House, Tuckahoe’s gastro-pub. Here, quinine powder is spooned from bar-top bowls, and tonic water is mixed before your eyes. One gin-soaked sip, and you’ll be enjoying sultry breezes off the savanna from your camp-stooled perch.

Veal Dish
Veal Chop Valdostano at Mulino’s of Westchester
White Plains (914) 761-1818; mulinos.us
Dining at Mulino’s is a rich, over-the-top experience, and the dish that epitomizes it is the double-cut veal Valdostano: a massive double-cut veal chop, melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto, shiitake mushrooms, flour, egg, grated Parmesan, and a brandy-and-cream sauce with mushrooms and peas. Buona!

Bagels
Village Square Bagels
Larchmont (914) 834-6969
It all went downhill with Lenders, when steamy corner bagel bakeries—and their chewy, dense-crumbed rounds—were replaced by rock-hard cylinder packs—frozen, yet. You call that a bagel? Ugh! For the real thing, still hot with a jaw-challenging, shiny crust, drop by Village Square. Armed with the Sunday Times, a bag of these—and maybe a brick of Philly and some nova—you’ll be all set to tackle the crosswords, using a pen, of course.

Way to Experience Lisbon
Caravela
Tarrytown (914) 631-1863
Portugal, with more than 1,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, offers simple cuisine inspired by the sea. Nowhere else in the county can you have a heartier or more traditional Portuguese meal than at Fernando Cabral’s Caravela. The longtime restaurant (this past March, Cabral celebrated his eatery’s 20th anniversary) serves up heaping Old-World plates of sautéed shrimp Lisbon-style (in a garlic, brandy, and spicy tomato-cream sauce), broiled whole sardines, baked red snapper, mariscada seafood stew, and pork Alentejo with littleneck clams. Rice, black beans, and steamed vegetables accompany every entrée, so come hungry.

Soup
Café of Love Salsify Soup
Mount Kisco (914) 242-1002
The word “soup” hardly covers this experience, which is the culinary equivalent of sinking into a three-foot featherbed, laid with million-thread-count linens. Here, the delicate oyster-flavored white root is puréed with lavish cream, and flecked by perfumed black truffles. Fragrant, silken, plush, and delicious, this warm liquid haunts our most luxurious dreams.

New Juice Bar
Mango Mix
Larchmont (914) 833-8333
Now that there are more Starbucks than mailboxes, isn’t it time for a change in your break? Mango Mix, an apple-green oasis lined with real birch tree trunks, slings freshly squeezed organic juices and smoothies along with 100- percent organic sandwiches, soups, and salads. And, don’t worry: if you’re still missing caffeine after all those detoxifiers, immunizers, energizers, and healing tonics, Mango Mix’s baristas serve up strong organic coffee, too.

Falafel
Turkish Cuisine Westchester
White Plains (914) 683-6111
If your taste buds were scarred by the bland, dry—yet somehow still greasy—falafels that haunted your college flirtation with vegetarianism, then check out Turkish Cuisine Westchester. Sure, the dish is vegetarian, but Turkish Cuisine’s falafels are greaseless, golden, fluffy balls of chickpeas, mint, and parsley, arriving perfectly dressed in a lush tahini/yogurt sauce. They’re so delicious, they might even tempt you back to those black, vintage Cure T-shirts.

Restaurant Host
John Leggio at Mima Kitchen and Wine Bar
Irvington (914) 591-1300
This place is always packed; (1) because of the food, and (2) because of John Leggio. He’s there every day, front and center, chatting up guests at the bar, visiting each table, calling most guests by name, being so charming and hospitable that it feels like family. Our very own version of Cheers.

Views
Red Hat Bistro on the River
Irvington (914) 591-5888
Irvington’s revamped industrial complex yields this stunning riverside bistro, which offers Gallic comfort food along a wide, toes-in-the-Hudson patio. And if that’s not enough, a rooftop lounge gives scenesters a sweeping, bird’s-eye view of the mighty river, the Palisades, twinkling bridges, and beyond.

Photo by John Fortunato

Cupcakes
Flour and Sun Bakery
Pleasantville (914) 495-3232
The doors of Westchester County’s first and only cupcake bakery opened in February 2009—incidentally, on Friday the 13th. Bad luck? Not when you’re serving some of the most luscious confectionary frosted heaven. There’s Fluffernutter, peanut butter and jelly, orange poppy seed, whopper, and hummingbird (pineapple, banana, and coconut). The most popular flavor? Vanilla vanilla. Purists stand proud!

Photo by Jason (Woei-Ping) Chen

New Asian Fusion
Spoon Asian Fusion
Chappaqua (914) 238-1988
This year’s entry in the pan-Asian pantheon is led by ex-Wild Ginger chef Stanley Yong, who sure knows how to wield a sushi knife, creating such top-rate selections as a mean tiger roll (tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and avocado), a perfectly crunchy tempura vegetable maki roll, and a smokin’ dragon roll with kani—real crab, not imitation. The “pan” part of “pan-Asian” comes in via Vietnamese pork loin, papaya salad, shrimp pad Thai, or sesame beef. If the food doesn’t send you to some exotic land, the décor will, with its draped ceilings, faux-stone finish, glowing lighting, and sleek dark wood and bar—the perfect place to sip something from the martini menu while listening to the live blues and jazz on weekend nights.

Photo by John Fortunato

Lobster Roll

Armonk Lobster House
Armonk (914) 276-0000
The generic dining room doesn’t feel like seafood in the rough, but one bite of this all-lobster-all-the-time roll and you’ll smell the salt air, hear the seagulls, and be on the watch for high tide. The mix is New England-style authentic with just the minimum of mayonnaise necessary to keep the sweet, pink-speckled chunks together until you devour them.

Photo by John Fortunato

Gourmet Market
The Iron Tomato Market & Café
57 Mamaroneck Ave
White Plains (914) 328-9400
Wish a gourmet market like Citarella or Delmonico would come to Westchester? One has. The overflowing shelves and display cases at gourmet Italian specialty market The Iron Tomato Market & Café tempt gourmands with more than 80 different cuts of fresh pasta, made-on-the-premises mozzarella ($7.99/lb); flaky potpies steaming with chunks of chicken ($7.99); and freshly baked breads like ciccolla (lard bread) flecked with salami, ham, and prosciutto ($4.49). There are dairy, meat, fish, bakery and prepared-foods departments, as well as a Moretti Forni pizza oven imported from Mondolfo, Italy, pumping out 10-inch ($7.95) and 14-inch ($13.95) pies. The meats are purchased from Master Purveyors, the same company that supplies Peter Luger Steakhouse. Chef and co-owner Joe Giordano, formerly executive chef at Valbellas in Riverside, Connecticut, oversees the kitchen, and there are 40-plus seats indoors and out for lingering over an espresso, cannoli, and the paper.

New Restaurant North

Photo by Quentin Bacon

The Farmhouse at Bedford Post
Bedford (914) 234-7800
Owner Richard Gere’s Hollywood star power is very nice, but it doesn’t show up on your fork. The real luminary behind The Farmhouse at Bedford Post is Chef Brian Lewis, whose Italy-inflected, locavorian kitchen yields endless high-toned treats. Especially stellar is his breakout trio of handmade ravioli, in which each pocket in turn reveals salty spinach, mild ricotta, and a golden, oozing whole yolk. Taken as a single bite, it’s divine; if we had Oscars to give, Lewis would be all tuxed-up and ready to go.

Photo by Tomas Cyparski

New Restaurant South
Tarry Lodge
Port Chester (914) 939-3111
The awesome talents of Joseph Bastianich, Mario Batali, Andy Nusser, and Nancy Selzer combine to make Tarry Lodge the hottest table in the county. Expect scores of luscious antipasti and wood-oven-baked pizzas, perhaps only bested by Bastianich’s amazing—and gently priced—wine list. We’re so jazzed by Tarry Lodge that we only wish it was easier to get a table…not such a problem now that Tarry does great take-out.

Photo by Cathy Pinsky

New Indian

Chutney Masala Indian Bistro
Irvington (914) 591-5500
Chef Navjot Arora’s Hudson-side ode to his Punjab roots brings the lavish regional richness of nut purées, cream, yogurt, and ghee to a cuisine often thought limited to wan tikka masala. Housed in a historic brick building—a remnant of Irvington’s industrial past—Chutney Masala has won our hearts for its faithful takes on luxurious Punjab and Mughal traditions.

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Photo by John Fortunato

Authentic Crêpes
Rue Des Crêpes
Harrison (914) 315-1631
Close your eyes and you’re on the Île St.-Louis listening to street musicians, watching the bateaux-mouches slide by, and snacking on a crêpe jambon et fromage (made with buckwheat flour) filled with Gruyère and wrapped in paper. Rue Des Crêpes’s cute café decor of whimsical street-scene murals is truly transporting. The menu supplements crêpes with salads and sandwiches, but what more could you want than a thin, savory pancake filled with Moroccan-style lamb sausage (merguez) and then a sweet one, oozing Nutella or simply doused with sugar and lemon? The street-side window from which you can watch your order transform from batter to crêpe on a heated, black iron circle transports you to the quais of the Seine.

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