In the name of reader service, we are ready to divulge our annual list of favorite local eats, shops, services, and haunts. It took some spirited debate to decide on these selections, and even a few wistful sighs. We must admit, there were some secrets we were reluctant to share. Still, since you, our readers, were kind enough to weigh in with your opinions, we grudgingly coughed up our secrets, too: how to get a table at our favorite restaurants, where to get a great deal on a Chanel suit, where to get old lamps fixed, and where to eat the best tamale you’ll ever sink your teeth into. Just because we’re willing to share, however, doesn’t mean we won’t fight you for the last babka at Pâtisserie Lulu. Consider yourself warned.
We couldn’t put this list together without help from some of our freelancers. Special thanks to:
Best New Red-Sauce Italian
Rosie’s Bistro Italiano
Italian restaurants, yet we wholeheartedly welcome a new bambina like Rosie’s, a friendly, no-pretense, bustling-with-cheerful-energy neighborhood eatery. You’ll be delighted with just about any dish here, from the chupin di mare (a soupy, stewy marvel overflowing with calamari, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, and red snapper) to the bocconcini forno (mini mozzarella balls wrapped in prosciutto and served over a tomato-herb sauce) to the moist veal chop accompanied by addictive roasted potatoes. With most entrées priced under $20, Rosie’s is starting to feel like a “new old favorite.”
Best Oyster Bar
Freshness and quality are critical when it comes to raw seafood, and, at the top-notch Fish Cellar, everything is super fresh and of super-high quality. The memory of the sea lingers long after you’ve slurped your last oyster, whether it’s a bracing Sun Hollow, a sweet
What makes these stuffed, dried corn leaves such a textural, mouth-filling delight? Love. At the Sunset Grille, tamales are made the old-fashioned way by the loving hands of Lucina, Beatriz, and Angelica, three
It’s been spiffed up since last spring with a new spa, a new chef (Mike Sheel, who apprenticed at Philadelphia’s famed Le Bec Fin), and two million dollars’ worth of renovations, yet the magnificent setting—no one, thank goodness, has messed with that—remains breathtakingly gorgeous. Ease yourself onto a chair on the limestone patio with a glass of Brunello in one hand, a plate of smoked bacon in the other, and look across the manicured grounds to the deep blue river and the Hudson Highlands beyond. You might even see a train rolling along in the distance, and enjoy one of those rare restaurant moments where the setting, mood, and cuisine are all in perfect harmony.
Most Knowledgeable Staff About Beer
The Lazy Boy
Saloon & Ale House
Know the difference between pale ale and brown ale? An Irish stout versus a sweet stout? Owner J.R. Cavallaro and his staff take their suds seriously and love to share their accumulated wisdom. Hundreds of different beers, including selections from countries as disparate as
Thank goodness for demanding bosses. Two years ago, owner Jeff Konchalski of Nature’s Temptations directed chef Liz Gagnon to start making soups. “I said that it wasn’t a specialty of mine,” Gagnon recalls. “In fact, I hated making soups.” But she tried, and now between forty and sixty quarts of her soups are devoured by fans every day. Ever tasted lentil-rich mulligatawany soup that’s as creamy as Gagnon’s, or chicken vegetable as chunky (you may need a fork)? Gagnon’s secret? It’s the stock, made fresh every day with newly picked organic ingredients and, of course, TLC.
The Willett House
The oldest prime steakhouse in the county also happens to be the best. The reason? Uncompromising, cost-be-damned quality. “Only about two percent of all beef is graded prime, and I pay a premium to get the very best of it,” says Dennis Gallagher, Willett’s general manager. All of the cuts are superior, but the real prizes here are the mammoth porterhouse and T-bone, two cuts that aren’t on the regular menu at many of the renowned
Best Restaurant with a Healthy Outlook
The Flying Pig Restaurant
In a world of processed foods, pesticide-inundated fruits and vegetables, and artificial ingredients, it’s nice to know there are folks like those behind The Flying Pig to remind us what food is supposed to taste like. The restaurant sources its pesticide-free produce, growth hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, and artisanal cheeses from local (mostly
trouble choosing between the meatloaf sandwich and the Mediterranean chopped salad. Responsible agriculture never tasted so good.
Most Anticipated Restaurant
X2O: Xaviars on
We are quite fortunate to have all three Peter Kelly restaurants in neighboring
Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse
In numerous ways, clubby steakhouse tradition reigns at Frankie and Johnnie’s: formally dressed waiters await your order from a menu full of thick slabs of meat and à la carte sides. Even the stone bank building the restaurant occupies has a masculine, buttoned-down sensibility. Yet the décor is anything but conventional. Red and purple sofas and overstuffed velvet lounge chairs front a sleek, lofty bar. The yin of stands of candles and warm, dappled yellow walls offset the yang of dark wainscoting. Diners have two choices for seating: crescent-shaped booths on the bottom level or more intimate balcony seating upstairs where classic Palladian windows impart restrained sophistication. Cool.
Best Pre-Movie Meal
Iron Horse Grill
How to upgrade that tired dinner-and-a-movie formula? Make it a special night out with dinner at chef Philip McGrath’s elegant, yet unpretentious, Iron Horse Grill. Its proximity to the
dusted swordfish and the frozen white-peach soufflé. Just schedule your reservation on the early side, lest you miss that other show.
Q Restaurant & Bar
Any cowboy worth his boots knows that smoky flavor is the key ingredient in stellar, authentic
senses—including that of touch. Those coated, sticky fingers are nothing to be ashamed of—just lick ’em clean and enjoy.
Best Southern-Inspired Dessert
Banana Pudding at Yvonne’s Southern Cuisine
Warning: This is one of those desserts that will have you abandoning all attempts at discretion and self-control. Served in a simple white bowl, it’s essentially a velvety yellow swirl of fresh whipped cream, sugar, milk, Nilla Wafers, and, of course, bananas, the consistency of a soft frosting. Oh yes, the word “moderation” will also disappear when you reach the bottom of the bowl and order another.
This isn’t your typical Indian restaurant; the cuisines of different regions (not just the
Best Wine Boutique Shop
The Wine Boutique
Like other fellow
Best Rotisserie Chicken
Mint Premium Foods
Mint’s moist, utterly succulent, free-range chicken is marinated overnight in the most wonderful concoction of saffron, fleur de sel, garlic, ginger, orange, and olive oil—delish! People come from all over
Best Thin-Crust Pizza, North County
Three Boys From
If you prefer a charred, cracker-thin crust for your pizza, you will love Three Boys’ brick-oven creation. Its perfect ratio of super-thin crust to sauce to cheese is, in a word, perfect.
Best Thin-Crust Pizza, South County
Roma has been around for generations, and over the years has perfected its recipe for crispy thin-crust pizza with just the right amount of homemade sauce and mozzarella, baked in a brick oven, naturally.
Best Short Ribs
Jack & Dyl’s
“I try to be seasonal,” declares David Thomas, chef and owner of Jack & Dyl’s. “But I can’t take the ribs off the menu, even in summer. They’ve become our signature dish.” No wonder we crave these meat-falling-off-the-bone ribs like an addiction. First the ribs are seared, then braised in beef stock, red wine, garlic, and thyme, and served in a rich reduction sauce. The result is melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
Lago di Como Ristorante
As any frustrated home cook will tell you, good gnocchi demands great skill. Too much flour, and they’re leaden belly bombers; not enough, and they’re unappealingly mushy. Lago di Como strikes the perfect balance, serving up perfectly plump pillows of potato dumplings—velvety and divine. They are even superior to the ones we thought were so wonderful when we last were in
Best Shish Kebabs
The tender morsels of beef, chicken, or lamb with brightly colored and flavored vegetables are seasoned and grilled to perfection, and served up with the fluffiest rice pilaf or scallop, shrimp, and saffron rice. You no longer have to schlep to
Best Authentic Mexican
Tortilleria Los Gemelos Mexican Restaurant
How can you go wrong with tortillas fresh off the press? Try the carnitas tacos, or the enormous burrito that’s big enough to feed a family of four! Fresh, authentic, and as close as you’ll get to south-of-the-border taste without having to go to
Royal Scarlet Store
There’s nothing “New American” or haute cuisine about this place, just heaping portions of old favorites. Think Subway—but with deli-quality meats and cheeses. Whatever you order, it’s piled so high that you can barely hold it. Choose from some seventy-five varieties: how does four inches of warmed Virginia Ham smothered with melted jack cheese, hot and sweet peppers,
Best Jamaican Beef Patties
Hot & Cold Deli
The steaming hot and spicy beef patties (they are to Jamaican cuisine what hamburgers are to American) and buttery coco (yes, short for coconut) bread here are the best outside of Flatbush,
Best Way to Get a Hot Table
No, it’s not impossible to get into Blue Hill (or other “booked”
Most Addictive Appetizer
Tempura Green Beans
at Willy Nick’s
We know people who come in time and time again just for these addictive tempura green beans, so much so that the staff refers to these tasty tempters as the “crack cocaine of appetizers.” We prefer to think of them as green French fries.
Feels Like Arthur Avenue Bakery
Artuso’s Pastry Shop
It may be located in an Irish section of Yonkers, but Artuso is all-Italian, plus “Grandma” is there to add some local character as you order your cannoli and chocolate-covered cheesecake slices.
Niko’s Greek Taverna
Talk about a family affair! There are Kringas everywhere in this friendly, family operation that serves healthy portions of souvlakia, pastitsio, baklava, and other Greek delicacies and treats you like one of the extended clan. Order the saganaki, a spectacular plate of sheep’s-milk cheese that is doused with brandy and lemon and set aflame right at your table. Opa!
Big Portion Restaurant
Gina Marie’s Trattoria
We were shocked and a little scared by the size of the dishes here—but shocked and scared in a good way. A single portion—which is served in a boat-like vessel—literally can feed four people. So be forewarned: no matter what you order, plan to split your entrées and take home a doggie bag. After all, you’ll want to save room for the chocolate ravioli.
Best Mozzarella Sticks
Chef Maud Franse trained at the New York Restaurant School as well as at the French Culinary Institute, so we’re thrilled that she brought all that education to bear on this humble appetizer that we love so much—when done properly, as they are here. These homemade morsels are extra gooey and luscious with just the right amount of breading and crunch.
Best New Restaurant
The Sterling Inn
A beautiful haven of exposed brick walls and delicate chandeliers makes a wonderful backdrop for the culinary marvels of Chef Sterling Smith. Try the oddly titled but totally wonderful lobster borscht, or a duo of diver scallops—seared and tartare. Entrées range from the simple, e.g., the perfect roast chicken, to the delightfully complex, e.g., the rack of lamb with curry fries and timbale of cabbage with lambshoulder confit. With a resumé that includes stints at Manhattan’s Aureole and Lespinasse, Chef Smith brings skill as well as creativity to the Westchester table.
Cos Cob, CT
Other restaurants have failed in this location, but we’re confident this one will break the streak. The fare at Nuage is a marriage of French and Japanese cuisine (duck foie gras is pan-seared with a teriyaki glaze; Kobe beef tartar is accompanied by scallion seared with sesame soy, quail egg, and Asian pear) that is so worth crossing the state line for. You won’t find Nuage on any “cheap eats” list (dinner entrées are $22 and up), but with artfully presented dishes that are both sophisticated and scrumptious, the indulgence is worth every dollar.
Best Place for a Carton of Fresh Eggs
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
It’s true: organic eggs from free-range chickens are better than your ordinary grocery store brand—the yolks are yellower, the taste is “eggier.” Besides, just driving up the hill to Stone Barns, past enclosures full of happy chickens, cows, and adorable little pigs, makes you feel good. Stone Barns is setting agriculture back one hundred years. And we say, “Thank you.”
Life is short, so if you’re dining at Global Gatherings, eat dessert first. Owner and Pastry Chef Desiree Kelly whips up some of the most delectable delicacies imaginable. Her chocolate sampler is a decadently rich tasting of whatever she’s making that day: perhaps a ganache cube, a silky mousse, and a truffle made with Belgian bittersweet chocolate and filled with liqueur. “I’m always trying new things—I don’t want my long-time customers to get bored,” Chef Kelly says. Fat chance of that. Other options include a chocolate-and-pecan turtle brownie with espresso-crunch ice cream, or a coconut ice cream (Heaven!), fresh pineapple, and macadamia-nut napoleon (Paradise!). Back by popular demand is her baked Alaska made with dulce de leche ice cream—one well-traveled customer claims Kelly’s version is better than the fabled dessert served on the Queen Elizabeth II. We’re in no position to disagree.
Unique Ice Cream
You’ve never had rice-pudding ice cream? What are you waiting for? These Mexican ice cream pops come in yummy (and unusual) flavors like eggnog, dulce de leche, and avocado (yes, it really is good). For an extra-sweet sweet, have your pop dipped in chocolate and coconut.
Best Pub Grub
Sometimes you just want a burger and a brew in a convivial atmosphere. J.C. Fogarty’s fits the bill. Try their lamb stew or shepherd’s pie, both classics of pub grub. The versions served here are tasty and filling. Remember them when the first spate of cold weather hits.
Best Breakfast For…
City Limits Diner
(914) 686-9000 (Central Avenue, White Plains)
(914) 761-1111 (The Westchester, White Plains)
(203) 348-7000 (Stamford, CT)
You’re meeting a client for a mid-morning breakfast. The generic town diner clearly won’t do. Thank goodness for City Limits Diner, a centrally located alternative where the cheerful digs, timely service, and high-end approach to diner fare should put a positive spin on your sales pitch. Once you’ve finished off the smoked-salmon omelet and currant-and-raisin-challah French toast, have the staff box up some of the pecan sticky buns for your client to take home. If that doesn’t seal the deal, nothing will.
At Wobble, you’ll feel like you’re in the one house on your block where all the neighborhood kids go to play. What other eatery has an entire wall dedicated to children’s drawings and a corner family-room area complete with comfy couch and children’s games? Oh yes, the breakfast fare. Like, the décor, it’s homey and familiar, and kids love the “toad-in-the-hole” (a fried egg in the center of a slice of bread served with home fries and milk or juice) and the silver-dollar pancakes with real maple syrup, the perfect size for smaller mouths. Moms and dads dive into apple or jam crêpes (weekends only) with fresh fruit; pain perdu (a baguette stuffed with a mixture of fruit and cream cheese, egg-dipped and fried golden brown); and Tex-Mex-style migas (a tortilla-based omelet with beans and chorizo).
Le Jardin du Roi
This relaxed bistro complete with a verdant front garden patio is popular with the Clintons. Perhaps the high-powered couple appreciates a break from the roar of the crowd as much as the light breakfast of croissants, fruit salad, or oeuf du roi—a poached egg on a goat-cheese potato cake served with ratatouille.
Specializing in omelets—it even has named a few after its customers—this neighborhood eatery always uses fresh, never frozen, ingredients (it doesn’t even have a freezer). Try the strawberry pancakes, French toast or, of course, the omelets, all served with home fries, and all deliciously filling.
Continue reading for the Best of Westchester 2006: shopping, services, health & beauty, nightlife and kids’ categories.
[Clothing, Jewelry & Accessories]
Live to shop? Pack the plastic, swap the stilettos for some comfy flats, and go cruise the marble corridors of this crème de la crème of luxury malls. Anchored by Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, The Westchester offers more than 150 chi chi shops in which to indulge in a little—or a real lot of—retail therapy. The lifting and toting of all those shopping bags will have those upper arms toned in no time, and you can always recover from your retail workout at the on-site Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and Day Spa.
Most Enthusiastic and Knowledgeable Jeweler
Master jewelers and brothers Sal and Richard D’Errico offer personalized, attentive service that’s as old-fashioned as the unique log cabin-like building in which their shop is located. Enthusiastic, engaging, and educated in everything from carats to security clasps, the D’Erricos love sharing their expertise with prospective buyers and browsers alike. Thinking of popping the question? Stop here first for a personal tutorial on the ins and outs of selecting an engagement ring. Or, if your bling has outlived its usefulness (and/or your union), the D’Erricos will work with you to redesign it or custom-craft a new design incorporating your own stones.
Best New Custom-Swimwear Boutique
Talented young designer Carla Murino’s bikinis graced the pages of Sports Illustrated’s 2006 swimsuit issue—for good reason. They’re sexy—and made to fit “real women’s hips,” Murino says. Murino can copy an old favorite or custom design a new suit just for you. Maillots, tankinis, and bikinis start at $80 and take approximately two to three weeks to complete.
Best Trendy Boutique
If it’s hip, happening, and kinda out there, it’s here at this sizzling hot spot of “kitschy couture” for tweens, teens, and their funding sources (a.k.a moms). Expect top-notch style served up with plenty of sass. What you’ll find: racks and stacks of über-hip clothing and accessories from such fresh, fashion-forward labels as Department of Peace, Fresh Butter, True Religion, Necessary Objects, etc., and about twenty lines of jeans from Blue Cult, Paper Denim & Cloth, Hudson, J. Brand and more. Suffering from same old, same old overload? (knoyzz) dares to be different: it’s blessedly free of the ubiquitous Juicy Couture and Seven labels.
Best New Women’s Boutique
Heart & Soul
This sleek and stylish designer boutique is helping pump fresh new blood into the newly revitalized Yonkers waterfront. Owners and fashion mavens Angie Livas and Evie Reyes have superb taste—and the desire and ability to help make you look as chic and put-together as they do. This sartorial twosome really knows their stuff: who’s wearing who, what’s in now, and what will be in next season, too. Their carefully selected collection of stylish fashions and accessories includes such labels as J Brand (Angelina is said to love the cigarette-leg jeans, $140 here), Michael Stars, Seven for All Mankind, L.A. Made, Ravelle, J & Co, and Pure Color (their jeans are one of Oprah’s “favorite things”), and such up-to-the-nanosecond must-haves as tank tops, babydoll tops, jersey dresses, and ultra-cool Jimmy Crystal shades.
Best Place to Buy a Bra
Odds are your bra isn’t fitting correctly (75 to 80 percent of women’s don’t). So, try this on for size: a properly fitted bra can make you look thinner, bustier, and more attractive. Fortunately for you, Linda Ruby and her staff are fit fanatics who will measure you and help you choose a bra that’s perfect for your figure, your wardrobe, and your lifestyle. Who can ask for more?
Best Shop for
If you’re among the 90 percent of people wearing improperly fitted shoes (odds are good you are), Foot Solutions’ certified pedorthist specialists will help your feet find footwear relief. The first step? A complimentary scientific fitting analysis of your feet, including a computerized scan and foot mapping (no appointment or purchase necessary). Kind of like going to the dentist, but a lot more pleasant. Especially after the analysis. Armed with your true size, go ahead, choose a new pair of shoes from such brands as Merrell, MBT, and New Balance.
Best Party Dresses
Lord & Taylor
Whether you’re looking for a long, short, haltered, strapless, ruffled, beaded, or sequined party gown, you’ll find it here. Mothers-of-the-bride, Bar Mitzvah guests, prom attendees, black-tie invitees, and cocktail party-goers all luck out at L&T, thanks to an unparalleled selection of such labels as Carmen Marc Valvo, BCBG Max Azria, Vera Wang, A.B.S., Laundry, Jessica McClintock, etc. Accessorize your selection(s) in the nearby shoe and handbag departments, and you’ll be all set to party in style.
Best New Gift Store
Colorful purses made by Mexican artists from candy wrappers. Intricate earrings handcrafted from recycled wristwatch hands and gears. Vibrant colored rocks that are actually soaps made to look like natural mineral formations. Former Wall Streeters Terrie and Min Aoki have stocked Sol-La with one-of-a-kind and limited-run treasures by under-the-radar, emerging artists. The eclectic selection sure cuts down on the possibility that you’ll be “re-gifted” with your own choice a few months later.
Best Home Gifts & Accessories,
Thoughtful dinner guests and hostesses channeling their inner domestic divas head here for everything tabletop. Owner Stacy Higgins treasure-hunts around the world to stock her charming shop with what the very best-dressed tables will be wearing: luxurious linens, sleek barware, Murano glass, and such sensational serving pieces as coiled bamboo bowls (up to $110) and silver-plated pie and pasta servers with cool, colorful beaded handles ($35 to $48). The specialty of the house? Riverside Design’s recycled sea-glass tableware, distinguished by its subtle colors and matte finish.
Best Home Gifts & Accessories,
Sophisticated city chic meets suburban Main Street in this fine home-furnishings shop. After 9/11, former J. Crew exec Everick Brown decided to realize his dream of opening a chic northern outpost for homeowners looking to cocoon in style. His own world travels have yielded an appealing mix of the classic and modern, the old and new, and the pricey and more affordable. Sprinkled in between such finds as a $10,000 circa 1950 original Eames screen and a nineteenth-century antique Chinese hutch, you’ll find plenty of ultra-stylish gifts and accessories like hand-blown barware, sleek martini glasses, glass and leather picture frames, coasters, ceramic olive trays, placemats, modern tabletop lighting, and rows of Chinese and Japanese teapots arranged like sculptures in a wall of backlit cubbies.
[hobbies & special interests]
Best Fine Stationery
This elegant and inviting fine-paper emporium grew out of charming owner Mayma Raphael’s longtime “passion for paper,” one she has shared on air with Oprah Winfrey. Papivores will swoon over the exquisite selection of handcrafted art papers, stunning stationery, and invitation options, including Raphael’s own custom designs.
Best New Needlepoint Shop
Stitch by Stitch:
A Needlepoint Gallery
Enthusiasts of this craft looking for their next fix will surely find it here. Expect a huge selection of kits and hand-painted canvas designs (Alice Peterson, Fleur de Paris, Cooper Oaks, Beau Geste, etc.), and equally extensive thread offerings (silk and wool blends by Silk and Ivory, silks by Splendor, pearl cotton floss by DMC, and even velvets, metallics, and patent-leather threads). Also offered: classes and “Stitch & Chat” evenings.
Best Shop for History Buffs
WorldView Antique Maps & Books
Time-travel to lost worlds in this bright, loft-like space full of antique maps, atlases, and books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A quality seventeenth-century map costs a fraction of what a similar quality painting from the same era might—and will look really cool on your wall, too.
[home & garden]
Best Hardware Store
Kelloggs & Lawrence
This venerable emporium has got nostalgic charm in spades—and trowels. In business since 1887, and in its current colorful Victorian building since 1895, Kelloggs & Lawrence is like a living history lesson. After you grab a handful of peanuts from the barrel by the door, check out “the shuttle,” an overhead system of ropes and pulleys (now idle) that once connected the cash register to a bookkeeper’s office in back. Charming though it is, the store has lasting appeal for serious shoppers, thanks to plenty of barbecue grills, red wagons, and fireplace accessories alongside the more gritty hardware stuff—nails, plumbing supplies, paint, and all the practical must-have gadgets and gizmos. Not up to doing everything yourself? It’ll even repair broken screens and cut glass.
Best Hardware Finds
Their motto is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” and we can attest to that. The goods are stacked floor-to-ceiling and, though finding what you need might be a challenge, the helpful staff makes it worth your while to ask. They’ve been in business since the ’40s, so even obscure, obsolete, and semi-antique oddities rarely stump them. “If you need a tiny little something that isn’t made anymore, we might have it in the basement or in a closet,” says Amy Nichols, whose family, the Rubeos, owns the shop. “People come here because they know whatever it is, we probably have it.” Fans swear it’s the place to go when you can’t bear to cruise the caverns of Home Depot.
Best Garden Supply Store
Mill River Supply
Even some of our landscape-designer friends who have wholesale connections come here for all the gardening paraphernalia needed to make one’s garden grow: fertilizer, salt hay and mulches, tools, stakes, deer deterrents, etc. You name it, they’ve got it—and with a broader selection and at better prices than most nurseries.
Best Antique Light Fixtures
Grand Concourse Antiques
Regretting that hasty decision to chuck Grandma’s chinoisserie lamp? Head to this antiques emporium specializing in vintage lighting to adopt someone else’s heirloom. If owner Pamela Goldman, the proud granddaughter of a “junk man,” can’t find what you’re looking for among the hundreds of English, French, Italian, and American chandeliers, sconces, and lamps in her 1,600-square-foot showroom and 4,000-square-foot warehouse, she and her dealers will keep an eye out for you on their travels to domestic and European estate sales and shows.
Best New Bedding and Linen Shop
La Dentelliere at Home
Once upon a time, there was a young girl who grew up working in her parents’ home décor stores. Her sweet dreams of opening a fine European bed linens and bath accessories boutique resulted in this charming new shop. In addition to such luxurious French (the Yves Delorme line is a county exclusive) and Italian (Manuel Canovas, Giuseppe Palombella, Sferra Brothers, etc.) linens, you’ll find cozy blankets, comforters, and throws; thick, fluffy towels; a profusion of pillows; and lots of elegant accoutrements. Want to make your own bedtime dreams come true? Bring in wallpaper or fabric swatches and your bed’s measurements, or call to arrange a complimentary in-home design
Best Pearl Selection
You could shuck a whole lotta oysters—or you could pop in here for everything from traditional strands to edgier pieces featuring a wide variety of shapes, colors, and origins, at prices from under $100 to $50,000. Think of your purchase as an investment: pearls are classic and classy; they never go out of style.
Best Hostess Gifts
This eminently fun-to-browse boutique offers a colorful, whimsical, and distinctive mix of perfect presents for the hostess and her home—everything from lacquered picture frames to beautiful hand-painted bowls. Our all-time favorites? The “geography” glasses ($13), dish towels ($19), and pillows ($135 and up) customized for many countries, states, cities, and popular vacation regions. So if you’re weekending at a pal’s Hamptons house, bring the appropriate glasses and dish towel—and use the latter frequently during your stay—and we can practically guarantee that you’ll snag a return invite.
Best Lighting Fixtures
An industry insider turned us on to this thirty-plus-year-old, family-run, 7,500-square-foot lighting showroom featuring one of the area’s most extensive selections at discounts ranging from twenty to fifty percent off manufacturers’ list prices. Choose from thousands of tabletop and floor lamps, crystal and other chandeliers, wall sconces, and track and recessed lighting from such major manufacturers and importers as Schonbek, Murray Feiss, Quoizel, Fine Art, Kichler, and more. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Hi-Light also does custom designs.
Best Shop to Dig for Collectibles
Tarrytown Antique Center
Half the fun is the hunt at this veritable treasure trove of tchotchkes and collectibles. The other half is, of course, the finds: books, records, comics, African and Asian artifacts, glassware, mid-century ceramics, vintage clothing and bridal wear, estate jewelry, and World’s Fair memorabilia from twenty different dealers, all crammed into a 1,200-square-foot space not unlike your Great-Aunt Eloise’s attic before someone had the brilliant idea to bring all its contents to the town dump.
Want whatever the best-dressed walls are wearing? This spacious design studio, housing what those-in-the-know call Westchester’s largest library of wallcovering and fabric books, has got you covered. Of course, you could pay an interior decorator to trek to the D&D building in Manhattan. Or, you could amble over to Armonk and save up to twenty percent off retail on designs from Osborne & Little, Cole & Sons, Nina Campbell, Zoffany, Colefax & Fowler, etc.
Best Bargains For…
La Mer Seafood Co.
Fresh fish usually has a substantial price tag associated with it. Not so when it comes to lunch at La Mer. Noon is the busiest time for this takeout haven, where a prepared food showcase of thirty to forty daily items empties quickly. Most popular are the soup-and-sandwich combo ($7.99), daily heaping salads ($4.99), and the chunky lobster roll on ciabatta with low-fat dressing ($13.99). But for the best deal, look for the “special special,” which has ranged from eggplant quesadillas ($2.99) to four teriyaki fish fingers and four shrimp dumplings ($6.99). And, if you enjoy your lunch, come back in the evening for a takeout dinner; the $8.99 pasta specials (e.g., shrimp and broccoli scampi over farfalle, seafood scarpiella over linguine) run weekly.
Sure, there are those who rush here for the popular special-occasion cakes, but Beascakes’ slight-crunch-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside donuts are a treat that puts the chains to shame. They’re made daily and taste delicious any time of the day but, after 2 pm, the price drops (on all breakfast items, in fact) by fifty percent. Flavors include cinnamon sugar (most popular), plain glazed, chocolate glazed, powdered, and, in the autumn, apple with caramel on top. Before 2 pm: $.85 each; $5 a half-dozen; $9 a dozen. After 2 pm: $.40 each; $2.50 a half-dozen; $4.50 a dozen.
The ultimate in fashion treasure hunting for new designer clothes at a discount. You never know what you’ll discover because shipments of new merchandise arrive every Tuesday through Saturday morning. And though we’re not allowed to name names, you’ll find the top ones here for far less than elsewhere. Trust us: it’s worth the trip.
One of our favorite secret sources (alas, no more) for discounted new and oh-so-gently worn designer women’s clothing, handbags, and shoes. You’ll find brand-new merchandise closeouts (Nanette Lepore or Cynthia Steffe, anyone?) and consigned mint-condition couture from such designers as Gucci, Stella McCartney, Celine, and Chloé, plus an entire rack of always au courant Chanel suits.
Continue reading for our Services section and the rest of the Best of Westchester 2006
Best Camera Repair
Specialty Photographic Repair Services
Got a prized antique Brownie in pristine condition—except for a missing lens? How about a far-out Polaroid SX-70 or a Kodak Pocket Instamatic from the ’70s in dire need of an overhaul? This shop repairs all types of cameras and photographic equipment—“virtually everything,” says owner Jay Cohn of his 23-year-old Pelham shop. “We do point-and-shoot, thirty-five-millimeter amateur and professional cameras, medium-format, large-format, SLRs, digital cameras—you name it.” The shop even fixes projectors and old—and even obsolete—film and video equipment. The 2,000-square-foot store has thousands of parts in stock, plus an expert staff of highly specialized technicians with decades of experience. “They’re the best of the best,” Cohn boasts. If your equipment needs repair and these guys can’t fix it, it can’t be fixed. And, chances are, if you’re looking for a part and this store doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exist—anywhere.
California Closets has become the county’s premier closet-design company. The 15-year-old Hawthorne location of the national chain, owned by Robert Westenberg, Sr., and Robert Westenberg, Jr., is a humongous 40,000-square-foot space. Why so big? Because, unlike most home storage-solutions companies, California Closets manufactures everything on site. So, when it says “custom,” it means custom. Total time from initial consultation to installation: generally two to three weeks.
Best Tutoring Services
Let’s face it: no kid wants to spend time with a tutor. Unless, that is, the tutor is Bedford Prep Owner/Director Maureen Lindell or a member of her talented staff. Lindell and her tutors—all New York State-certified teachers—know how to help kids excel. Rote learning? Fast-paced drills? Uh-uh. Not here. Patience. Practice. Determination. Skill. These are the hallmarks of a Bedford Prep tutor. The result? Better grades and even…smiles.
Best Solution to
Nature Technologies, Inc.
Deer are destructive—and so maddeningly relentless. Just when you think you’ve got ’em licked, they come up with a new way to damage your garden. Unfortunately for them, the people at Nature Technologies, Inc., are equally relentless. When it comes to research, trends, and techniques, nobody is as well informed. The company utilizes deer experts (including botanists and engineers) to study deer behavior, deer populations, deer diets, and funds research into all things deer. Want those white-tails to high-tail it outta your yard? Nature Technologies will not only develop a customized, humane “deer deterrence” plan for your specific deer problem, it will implement, monitor and, if necessary, adjust the program as needed.
Best Children’s Hospital
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center
“Children” and “hospital”: two words that no one ever wants to hear together. And no one understands that better than Brenda and John Fareri, whose 13-year-old daughter, Maria, died from rabies in 1995. The Fareris poured their love for Maria—and Maria’s own wish for the health and well-being of all children—into this state-of-the-art facility that’s for and about the optimum care of children. More than four hundred exceptionally qualified pediatric specialists treat 25,000 critically ill kids each year—giving them the best medical care available in a bright, cheerful, child-centered environment.
White Electric, Inc.
An electrician who returns phone calls? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Not at White Electric. “All calls are returned within one business day,” promises owner Harold J. Wellings. There’s an office staff to handle phone queries and appointments so the nine licensed electricians (and nine apprentices) can concentrate on doing what they do best: all things electric. Wiring is their forte, and no job is too large—or too small. “From installing an outlet to rewiring your home, we do it all,” Wellings declares. “We show up when we say we will, and do exactly what we say we’re going to do. That’s what’s kept us in business nonstop for twenty years.” They offer 24-hour emergency service and free estimates, too.
Best Inexpensive Gardener
Dominguez Tree Service & Landscaping
Did you think you needed to spend a fortune to have a lovely lawn, a beautiful garden, expertly pruned shrubs and bushes, and well-maintained, healthy trees? If you want professional, full-service gardening and landscaping but don’t want to take out a second mortgage to finance it, give Apolinar Dominguez a call. You may not get him on the first ring (he’s likely on a service call), but he will get back to you—and it will be worth it. Promise.
Best Home Stager
Sheila Black of Home Highlighting, Ltd.
We hate to burst your bubble, but the housing bubble could burst any day now—at least that’s what the experts tell us. Interest rates are rising and homes in Westchester have become a tad harder to sell than they once were. So, whether you’re looking to unload a cookie-cutter split or a majestic Colonial, you’re gonna have to one-up the competition to get your asking price. That’s where Sheila Black, accredited staging professional, comes in. She knows how to tell clients—discretely—that their cats are cute, but their cat litter’s not, and that Uncle Vito’s ashes might be better suited for the closet than for the mantle—at least for now. Sheila’s recommendations—anything from decluttering and depersonalizing a home to eliminating odors and rearranging furniture—can mean the difference between multiple offers and a price reduction.
Best Tile Installer
John Russo of
JR Marble and Tile
Installing tile is fairly easy to do—but extremely hard to do well. And to install tile with the eagle-eyed attention to detail, design, and symmetry that John Russo is known for—that’s pretty rare. Whether you’re in need of a simple installation or an elaborate, intricately cut design, Russo’s your man. For more than twenty-five years, Russo has been installing all kinds of tile, from ceramic to glass to marble. And, though his goal is to have happy, satisfied clients, he will let you know the pros and cons of any material, vendor, design, or process you choose. That’s why his customers—and the many tile stores and manufacturers who refer him—trust him. He’ll also clean up when he’s finished: no dust, no dirt, no dripped or dried grout. Except for the magnificent new tile installation in your home, you’ll never know he’d been there.
Joshua Katz of
You’ve inherited your grandmother’s sofa and you love it—it has great bones. Problem is, it’s covered in burnt-sienna crushed velvet and clear vinyl slipcovers. What to do? Drop everything and call Joshua Katz at Fabu. With more than twenty years’ experience, he can work wonders with even the most mundane pieces—and he’s not too shy to tell you that, either. “Basically, I’m an editor,” he says. “We have thousands of fabrics to choose from—but only three or four are gonna work for any given project. The trick is narrowing them down.” Gotta love him for his talent, his charm—and his chutzpa. “Sometimes
people know what they like, but it’s not practical for them. Then I may have to say, ‘Lady, you have three dogs—you might want to think about Sunbrella!’”
Best New Doggie Daycare
Best Friends Pet Care
Attention all childcare providers: Best Friends Pet Care is making some of you look bad. Really bad. If you didn’t believe before that dogs are the new kids, you will once you get a look at this place. We know it’s a franchise—but, c’mon, this is Westchester. Do we have to spell it out for you? Dogs are kept in spacious “suites,” not crates, during the day and, if you’re worried about your pooch coming home with a half-chomped ear flap, don’t: pets are supervised and, for doggie day camp, must be spayed/neutered, and non-aggressive, and must undergo a thorough screening process before enrolling. This is a safe, clean, happy environment where there are lots of wagging tails on the doggie jungle gym. Miss your snuggle bunny during the day? Give her a peek on the live webcam.
Best Lighting Repair
Powell Accessories, Ltd.
This third-generation, family-owned business started in 1950 as a full-service decorating business. Over the years, it’s morphed into a specialty shop focusing on selling, reconditioning, and repairing period and vintage lighting. Because many modern lighting shops are retail-only establishments that don’t offer repairs, or are not knowledgeable of vintage wiring and materials, Powell Accessories is often overwhelmed by the amount of repair work it receives. “Basically,” says owner Brian Powell (who doubles as the shop’s resident king of one-liners), “we do all the no-money jobs that nobody else wants to do.” But his sarcasm belies the passion he and his 77-year-old mother and 81-year-old father—who still work in the shop every day—have for their craft. The shop does all kinds of lighting repairs, from updating wiring to fixing and repinning those pesky chandelier crystals. It can also make lamps out of “just about anything.” Due to the sheer volume of work it turns out, turnaround time, depending on the intricacy of the job, may not always be lightning-fast, but the results will be well worth it.
Best Party Rental Supplies, North County
Fox Equipment Rental
When you’ve been in business for nearly nine decades, you tend to garner a reputation for reliability. For five generations since 1919, this family-owned and -operated full-service caterer not only has been catering affairs grand and small, it’s also been renting party supplies for all kinds of functions and events. Whether it’s a swanky soirée for sixty or a festive feast for five thousand, Fox Equipment Rental will deliver tables, chairs, china, linens, and glassware in clean, ready-to-use condition. Setup is available and, if you can’t find what you need among their thousands of in-stock items, manager Bill Stewart says they will locate it for you within a week.
Best Party Rental Supplies, South County
Alperson Party Rentals
Whether you need a Sno-Kone machine, an ice-cream cart, or a hot-dog roller for a child’s birthday party; silver serving pieces, a chocolate fountain, and an elaborate heated tent for an elegant wedding; a portable stage, dance floor, and mirrored ball for a disco-themed bash; or a lectern, chairs, and coffee urns for a solemn affair, Alperson’s got it all. The choice of local caterers for nearly forty years, Alperson is considered by many the be-all and end-all of party rental supplies. They have just about everything and, what’s more, your glassware will arrive crystal-clear, your flatware sparkling, your equipment clean as a whistle and ready to use.
Best Rug and Carpet Repairs
Rug & Home Gallery
The Rug Lady and Luigi have become a bit of a suburban legend in these parts. But don’t be fooled by their kitschy monikers or their slightly cheesy local TV commercials: anyone who knows rugs knows Rug & Home Gallery. And anyone who owns a rug should. Luigi Festagallo is an artist. He doesn’t just repair rugs. He knows rugs. He loves rugs. He understands rugs. All shapes, sizes, and types; new, antique, and heirloom. And regardless of the condition of your rug or carpet, Luigi can bring it back to life.
Best Place to Get Married
If the spectacular view of the Hudson Valley doesn’t take your breath away, the gorgeous, fragrant gardens will. It’s hard to fathom a more idyllic setting for a wedding (unless, of course, Buckingham Palace becomes available). Romance reigns here, from the dogwood-lined driveway that leads its thirty-two lush acres, to the rustic-yet-elegant cherry- and chestnut-paneled interiors of the 100-year-old, J.P. Morgan-built mansion, to the formal gardens and lovely stone walkways, to the elegant bridal suite and dining rooms.
Best Window Cleaner
Alvarez Cleaning Service
Got window pains? Even for those few among us who don’t mind housecleaning, windows are another matter. There’s a reason the phrase “I don’t do windows” has been part of the American lexicon for all these years. Somehow, the shine masters at Alvarez have managed to turn window-cleaning into, if not an art, at the very least a science. Regardless of how high, low, or difficult to reach, how dirty, grimy, or intricately paned, when an Alvarez crew cleans your windows, every nook and cranny will be sparkling clean, streak-, lint-, spot-, and dust-free.
Best Dog Hotel
Canine Kindergarten Inc.
These guys obviously live by the credo that “Dog” is “God” spelled backwards, and treat these pooches as if. Your precious pup will be well cared for here but, if you want to see for yourself, check him out romping around via Canine Kindergarten’s webcam. Though Canine Kindergarten is known primarily as a wonderful doggie daycare facility, overnight “guests” receive world-class accommodations and amenities (which, in dogspeak, means lots of belly rubs and cuddles before turning in). When they do turn in, it won’t be in crates (unless that’s what they prefer): it’ll be on posh, plush doggie beds in supervised suites. Now if only they had twenty-four-hour room service.
Best Home Repair Service
Robert Schwarz of Team Service and Maintenance, LLC
When we say no job is too small for former electrical contractor Robert Schwarz (he worked in the business for thirty years), we’re not kidding. In fact, he actually prefers small jobs. Though he no longer does electrical work (he’s very mindful of necessary licenses and such), he does do lots of other stuff—the kind that most of us either hate to do or are embarrassed that we don’t know how to do. Got a light bulb that needs changing, but it’s just out of your reach? How about a picture or a mirror that needs to be hung but is too heavy to lift? A bathroom faucet installed? Shelves set up? Call Robert. Though many of the jobs he does don’t warrant estimates, he’ll be happy to give you one if the job calls for it.
We know these maids are merry, because we’ve seen them in action. And we know their customers are merry, because we’ve seen the results. Could it be that these folks actually like cleaning? It sure seems that way. They seem to wear permanent smiles and are full of energy—in fact, they’re all but singing each morning as they load their vehicles with cleaning tools and supplies outside their Pleasantville headquarters. But that’s just the beginning. They’re fast, honest, and skilled. When these guys whirl their way through your house, no speck of dust, smudge of grease, or smattering of soap scum will be safe.
Best Antiques Restorations
There are antiques—and then there are antique treasures. London Joiners owner Willy Godziemba-Maliszewski, a master ébéniste (that’s “extremely high-end cabinetmaker” to us plain folks) with more than thirty years’ experience, understands and appreciates the distinction, and has worked both on restoring and conserving more than his share of antique treasures. We’re not talking your great-grandmother’s dining-room table, either (though who better than such a renowned craftsman to restore such a family heirloom?). We’re talking pieces from medieval—that’s right, medieval—Europe. “I’ve learned the old masters’ techniques,” Godziemba-Maliszewski says, having trained with European masters. What sets him apart from other excellent restorers? “Many restorers work by first stripping the surface but don’t know how to identify and build up the original finishes,” he says. Godziemba-Maliszewski sure does. And he takes great pains to preserve the beauty and integrity of the pieces with which he’s entrusted. He also makes cabinets but cautions, “An ébéniste is to a cabinetmaker as a cordon bleu chef is to a short-order cook.” Expect to pay $10,000 to $70,000 (an awful lot of hash browns) for one of his custom-made cabinets.
Best House Painter
Jim Avery of Precision Painting of Westchester
Jim Avery’s not just a great painting contractor—he’s a great business manager, too. “He’s rarely missed an appointment in twenty-three years,” says his wife and office manager, Mary-Lou. “He knows the customer comes first.” Jim provides detailed, written estimates within forty-eight hours of meeting with a potential client, and covers all the details, soup to nuts. He’s licensed and insured and has made a very good living for his entire career primarily from word-of-mouth referrals. His clients say he knows the painting and design business inside and out and is happy to educate them on different paints, materials, and finishes.
Best Computer Repair Store
Back in the days when “zip” meant “close” and “gig” meant “job,” RSA Computer was making a name for itself as the place to go in Westchester for expert computer repairs. Remember mouseless DOS programs, monochrome monitor screens, clickety-clack dot-matrix printers, and the IBM XT? These guys do. In business since 1983, RSA Computer can solve virtually any computer or printer problem and make any repair. Try to stump them—you just can’t do it. Quick, convenient drop-off and pick-up are de rigueur here, and the shop’s certified techs even make house calls. For emergency data-recovery from damaged hard drives, nobody’s better. And they’re nice, too—an always-welcome bonus.
Best Cleaners For…
The Caravan Connection
Got a gorgeous Oriental, hand-knotted or hand-woven rug that’s lost its luster? The Caravan Connection will rid your rug of dust, hand-wash and hang-dry it, pick up and deliver, spot-clean if necessary, and also repile, reweave, mend tears, or fix fringe if needed. What more can you ask?
Want your expensive Hermes suit to smell like perc and be thrown on a wire hanger in a plastic bag to hold in the toxins? We didn’t think so. The folks at Depot Cleaners have seen—and probably have cleaned—all the designer labels. They’re used to it. This ain’t Kansas, ya know. It’s Scarsdale.
Attention to Details
Cuffs and collars are meticulously pre-spotted, cleaned, and pressed; folds and pleats are where folds and pleats should be—and not where they shouldn’t. And stubborn stains? They’re a goner. Whatever’s in your pockets—whether it’s a matchbook, a nickel, or a thousand dollars—will be dutifully returned to you at pickup. (Keep this in mind if your spouse is doing the pickup!)
Continue reading for our Health & Beauty section and the rest of the Best of Westchester 2006
Health & Beauty
Best Yoga Studio
Katonah Yoga Center
“There’s lots of very good yoga everywhere right now,” lead teacher Nevine Michaan says. But Katonah Yoga is very good. Part of the reason is Michaan herself. She’s been teaching for thirty years (“Before yoga was fashionable,” as she puts it). Her eclectic style of practice, combining Taoist theory and Hatha yoga, and her ability to attract other talented teachers (Abbie Galvin’s name gets mentioned frequently), keeps the studio humming (or chanting) with activity.
Best Makeup Application
Ilise Harris at Fiamor
Ilise can give you the “natural, only better,” look that has made the beautiful people that much more beautiful. Celebrities, including Cindy Crawford, Liv Tyler, and Milla Jovovich, have all benefited from her skill. Anna Wintour trusts her with her looks and, if Ilise is good enough for the famously demanding Vogue fashion icon, she’s good enough for you, too.
Best Beauty Boutique
Pink on Palmer
If it looks good, feels good, or smells good, they have it: Bliss bodywashes, Thymes and L’Occtiane lotions, makeup for adults and teens, Mario Badescu (“The best hand cream I’ve ever used!” says one perpetually parched enthusiast), and cult favorites like T. LeClerc powders and Red Flower candles. Your newly softened hands are sure to make contact with something you won’t willingly put back.
Best Eyebrow Shaper
There may not be a lot of hair to groom in those two tiny arcs, but you’d be amazed at how important skillful shaping is to your overall look. Poor technique can instantly date you (think Brooke-Shields-bushy or ’70s over-tweezed) or make you look perpetually stunned. A great brow-shaping, on the other hand, can frame your eyes and balance your features. Jude Scutieri’s magic touch will make you forget those haphazard nail-salon waxings forever.
Best Wax Technician
Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon & Spa at
This native of the Republic of Trinidad really knows how to take the “ouch” factor out of hair-removal. She only uses all-natural wax (“The cheap stuff pulls too aggressively,” she says), and she presses skin down before that dreaded pull, so hair, not skin, comes away with the wax. Along with skillful technique, Rosales throws in some nice extras, like finishing off her eyebrow, lip, and chin waxes with a cooling ice-ball massage. She even coats your newly de-nuded facial areas with soothing cream and moisturizer containing SPF. We’re betting you’ll make your next appointment before you leave.
Unique Spa Treatment
The Hammam Ritual
Park Avenue Medical Spa
In a beautifully tiled steam room that evokes Morocco, you stretch out on a table and relax amidst the low-mist, high-intensity steam while an aesthetician sends copper dippers full of warm water cascading over your body. Next, you’re massaged with Moroccan black soap and a soft “peau d’ange” (angel skin) exfoliating glove. After still more massage, you’re enveloped in a moisturizing clay wrap. At $200, it’s the cheapest exotic vacation you’ll ever experience.
Lorraine Guzman at Shine Salon & Spa
Manicures from Lorraine last so long that, according to one devotee, “you go back after seven days and question why you’re there.” Bathing, keyboard pounding—you can do it all and the polish just won’t chip. Unfortunately, word of Lorraine’s miraculous powers has spread and she’s constantly booked. “It’s like a country club,” says one fan. “You can’t get in.” If you’re lucky enough to make it to her chair, you won’t want to leave. In addition to her considerable talents as a manicurist, Lorraine also happens to be one amazingly nice person. How nice? Her staff exchanges kisses when they come into work each morning.
Best Gyms For…
The pool at Club Fit, with its gorgeous skylights and kid-magnet fountain, is an inviting spot for lap swimming and casual splashing. But with classes ranging from “Aquatics Arthritis,” designed to improve joint flexibility and relieve pain, to “Deep Water Workout,” designed to improve muscular strength and endurance, plus a full program of swim instruction and personal aquatics training, the pool has another dimension as a full-service aquatic fitness center.
Fitness for Health
Owner Sal Gaglio, a fitness celeb in his own right (he won the Mr. New York City and Mr. New York State titles and was runner-up for Mr. U.S.A), makes his living shaping the bodies of some of Westchester’s best-known faces. Vanessa Williams, Publisher and former pro basketball player Butch Graves, sportscaster Suzyn Waldman, and model Jenny Brunt, are all clients. Want to join their ranks? Don’t hold your breath. His waiting list is a year long. Thankfully, he’s personally trained nine of his twelve staffers.
An After Workout Perk
ProBody Personal Training
The reward for sweating yourself silly is a post-workout relaxation session in the “tranquility tent.” Recline your “neuro acoustic therapy chair” (a.k.a. lounger) to a “zero gravity” position as warming stones and aromatherapy erase the memory of exercise-induced agony. Sound waves are scientifically orchestrated supposedly to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and increase mental clarity. Who cares if it really works? At least you’re off your feet.
Burke Smart Fitness
So, you want to join a gym, but you’re “allergic” to blaring music, clingy outfits, and muscle heads boasting about their pecs? Well, have we got the place for you! Burke Smart Fitness has all the stuff you need and nothing you don’t. There are cardio and strength machines, strength and conditioning programs for adults with orthopedic or neurological conditions, nutrition programs, and even classes in tai chi and yoga. There’s an outdoor walk area and a one-eighth-mile-long outdoor track. And, if even contemplating all this activity has you feeling sore, you’ll be comforted to know there’s a massage therapy program, too.
Saw Mill Club
Is that Bobby Kennedy on the leg-press? Billy Baldwin on the stationary bike? Hey, and isn’t that his wife, Chynna Phillips, working out with a personal trainer? Check out designer Joseph Abboud near the free weights (too bad you can’t check the label on his tank top). Whether they’re here for the high-end Techno Gym weight machines (they’re imported from Italy), the ionic hair dryers in the ladies’ locker room, or whether they simply like the location (convenient to Bedford’s estate country), the Saw Mill Club certainly packs in the bold-faced names. With so many celebs and pretty people to watch, neck strain is a more common injury here than ankle sprain.
Continue reading for our Nightlife section and the rest of the Best of Westchester 2006
Most Romantic Overnight
Castle on the Hudson
A century-old castle. A four-poster bed dressed with goose down comforters and Frette linens. Working wood fireplaces. Views of the Hudson River extending all the way to Manhattan. What could be more romantic than that? Castle on the Hudson offers the chance to sneak off for an amorous weekend away without the hassles of traveling outside the county. Go for the romantic package, and add to those luxuries a couple’s massage in your suite, chocolate-dipped strawberries, chilled Champagne, and a bed covered in silk rose petals. With all of the in-room amenities, you might not ever want to leave your suite, but we suggest that you tear yourself away just long enough to take advantage of Equus’s renowned prix-fixe dinner—the fastest way to the heart is through the stomach, after all.
Best Bluegrass Bill
The Emelin Theatre
We know you can have “the blues,” but is it also possible to have “the bluegrass?” If so, the Emelin’s got it—in spades. Each year, the theater puts on a five-concert, bluegrass-only series that features some of the hottest talent touring. Last year’s performers included the band David Peterson & 1946, nominees for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Emerging Artists of the Year” award; Grammy nominee Laurie Lewis, winner of an IBMA award for “Female Vocalist of the Year”; and James Reams and the Barnstormers, artists praised by DJ Steve Daughtery as “straight-up, no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners bluegrass.” The Emelin makes it even easier to catch all acts in the series: a subscription ticket to all five shows is available at a discounted price.
Best Live Entertainment at a Restaurant
Want to add a little jazz to your jumbo shrimp? How ’bout getting some pop with your paella, or stand-up comedy with your crème caramel? The Watercolor Café has been serving up the best live entertainment with its American bistro cuisine since opening in 2001. Among the roster of visiting boldface names are folkie favorites Sloan Wainwright, Ellis Paul, Richie Havens, and Eliza Gilkyson, and jazz masters Les Kurtz, Gil Parris, and Ted Rosenthal. Want to get in on the act? The café sponsors master songwriting workshops on selected Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.
Best Venue for Dance
The Performing Arts Center
Whether you’re looking for modern or tango, ballet or classical, chances are you’ll find it all at the Performing Arts Center. In a county where dance performances are limited, the Center goes out of its way to present a consistent offering of the hottest professional and up-and-coming dance groups around. This year, they’ve
hosted critically acclaimed acts including Nuevo Ballet Español, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Bocca Tango—and those were all in February alone!
Lounge for Live Music
Lazy? Hardly. Each Wednesday to Saturday, the Lazy Lounge works tirelessly to bring the best live jazz, blues, rock, and soul music to the heart of White Plains. (The top-class talent comes to the Lounge courtesy of John Ragusa Music, the same company that has booked acts for the Rainbow Room in New York City.) When live acts aren’t on-hand manning the Lounge, DJs step in to keep it from becoming a place where people, well, just lounge around.
Best Summertime Bar
Harvest on Hudson
The recipe for a perfect summer evening: drinks on the open-air patio, strolls around the garden, and a breathtaking view of the Hudson during sunset. Need we say more?
Old-Fashioned Watering Hole
Sometimes, all you need is a bar, a beer, and a burger. When the mood strikes, head straight to Town Dock, which has been expertly serving up all three for the past eight years. At this no-pretensions hotspot, you’ll be sure to find a packed crowd of locals, the old-fashioned pub feel, and lotsa fish ’n’ chips—a specialty of the house. Belly up to the bar and try one of the five beers on tap (good ol’ Guinness and Bass are crowd favorites).
Nick Moustakas at Spotlight Entertainment Karaoke & DJ Services
There’s a secret to finding great karaoke that’s known only among the most devoted singers: it’s not where you go, it’s who’s running the show that counts. In our case, the best in the biz is Nick Moustakas, a pro who’s been manning the mic and pumping up the crowd for the past seventeen years. Chances are, you’re never far from a Moustakas karaoke night; his services are offered at Dooley Mac’s and Finn McCool’s in White Plains, Spadafino’s and Bella Paese in Hawthorne, Pete’s Saloon in Elmsford, and Valhalla Station. And, with more than 15,000 songs to choose from, you won’t be at a loss for what to sing (if you’re lucky, you’ll hear him dust off an old Elvis tune himself). Start practicing your Whitney-style diva runs or your best Mick swagger now.
Date Bar For…
Not yet part of the need-a-babysitter-to-go-out set? Scope out the nightlife at the Katonah Grill, where each weekend the bar is crammed with a crowd full of people who were born when Carter or Reagan were president, who like The Strokes way better than The Stones, and who can recount each episode of Saved by the Bell in great detail (remember the one where Jessie was hooked on caffeine pills?). The bar is everything you’d expect from a place that appeals to a young crowd: noisy, boisterous, and packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people looking for a lively, unpretentious scene. How lively? There’s even a mechanical bull! Be sure to check for their series of karaoke nights and live music (but, thankfully, no oldies).
City Martini Lounge in
Just as it takes two to date, it takes two to tango—and this New Rochelle hot spot provides a chic, New York City-hip locale for a grown-up evening out. Catering to a crowd that’s past the college bar scene, but still vivacious and adventurous, thirtysomethings have been known to pack this bar in droves. And with upscale pan-Latin-Asian-Carribbean upgrades on the usual bar offerings (jerk-seasoned chicken wings, anyone?), who can blame them? Once drinks are done, you might want to consider extending the date over dinner—Zen Tango’s portions are all large enough to serve two.
121 Restaurant & Bar
This is the place to see and be seen for those traveling in the tony, North-county horse crowd. Dates meet here to share starters like Asian seafood salad, eggplant polpette, and wood-fired pizzas, or dine alfresco on the terrace of the charming 1880s house. At night, the bar is so popular among stylish sophisticates that the patrons spill over onto the restaurant’s wrap-around porch. The artwork on the wall is almost as attention-grabbing as the crowd; the restaurant hosts shows by contemporary visual artists from Maxwell Fine Arts gallery, making the walls as well-dressed as the patrons.
Thursday Nights at Harrys of Hartsdale
At this two-story, upscale eatery, Thursday nights are dedicated to live music, which draws in the professional crowd straight off the Metro-North trains across the street. Fighting your way to the bar, you’ll find a mix of couples looking for an evening out and baby boomers hitting up the singles scene. Can’t decide between meeting your date for drinks or for coffee? Try both: Harrys’s “Espresso Martini” is made with vanilla Stoli, Kahlúa, Baileys, and a shot of espresso. Order from the extensive raw menu, and if your date is going really well, test out that old theory about oysters.
Conitnue reading for our Kids section
Best Teen Boutique
New York Dolls
With the feel of a chic Manhattan boutique, this eclectic, colorful shop, filled with designer day and evening wear, is sure to make teens—and their trendy moms—feel as if they’re sauntering through SoHo. Owner Robin White will help pick out the perfect ABS dress for her prom ($437), a Betsy Johnson original for her Bat Mitzvah ($211), a retro tee by Jake’s Dry Goods ($40) and awesome accessories to pull every look together. You’ll never have to hit every store in The Westchester again.
Best Kids Shoes
Shoes ‘N’ More
Whether your child wants the latest Uggs, Nike’s, or Heely roller shoes, Shoes ‘N’ More has it. After your child’s foot is electronically scanned to determine the correct shoe size, the popcorn machine, juice box station, and big screen TV are sure to keep him or her occupied while you do a little shopping of your own. Did we mention they have a women’s shoe department as well?
Affordable, Active Birthday Party
Court Sports Westchester one Club
Instead of playing the usual musical chairs this year, why not let your youngsters burn through that cake-induced sugar high with a game of dodge ball, kickball, or soccer? At $300 for fifteen kids ($10 for each additional child), they’ll have an entire gymnasium at their disposal, and with a certified coach to keep them entertained, they’ll be having fun, staying fit, and sleeping like babies in no time.
Best Drum Lessons
The Art of Drumming
In his large Dobbs Ferry studio, performing and recording artist Ed Bettinelli, who has opened for Bon Jovi and Pat Benetar, tailors each lesson to the student, teaching kids as young as four (and as old as seventy) how to rhythmically beat and bang on those drums so that, soon, the sound of spoons on pots will be music to your ears.
Best Father-Son Outing
What better way for father and son to bond than over ice cream and sports? Walk in for a Cookie Dough Maggio sundae (two scoops of cookie-dough ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge, cookie-dough topping, and a cherry) and walk out with a Derek Jeter-used baseball bat. And don’t miss the in-store signings; everyone from Mark Messier to Hank Aaron to Joe Montana has stopped in.
Best Children’s Theater
Your child will be thrilled to see his favorite storybook characters come to life, and you’ll love introducing your little one to such Broadway classics as Annie and Cats. Tickets are $12, kids get to meet the cast of professional actors, and with birthday parties, workshops, and interactive plays, your youngster will be at home with the theater before he’s old enough to tote his own Playbill.
Best Field Trip
Pace University Environmental Center
Assistant Director James Eyring and his staff guide students in kindergarten through eighth grade on nature walks, farm and animal programs, or falcon-and-hawk demonstrations, where Eyring, a master falconer, brings kids face to face with the magnificent birds.
Best New Kids Library
The Trove at the White Plains Public Library
With ships and an indoor garden in which to read the latest Harry Potter, caves in which to watch movies, puppet shows and story time for toddlers, and “Surfing Lessons” on one of the computers in the CyberPool, going to the library has never been this much fun.
Best New Toy Store
Sam and Zanzi’s Fabulous Toy Shop
Named after a monkey (Sam) and an elephant (Zanzi) from a fictional story that owner Christian Claessens used to tell his daughter at bedtime, this old-fashioned toy shop features a wide selection of specialty toys and games including Schylling tea sets, Corolle dolls, and Papo knights and soldiers. Decorated with three oversized papier-mâché apple trees, the store also carries arts and craft supplies, stuffed animals, and lots of classic books.