R5 6 Underrated Restaurants

Enjoy terrific meals—without the crowds—at these undiscovered gems.

1. Cholo’s Kitchen (4 Lawton St, New Rochelle; 914-235-0094; choloskitchen.com). Cholo’s Kitchen is decorated brightly with cookware, sunny yellow and blue paint, fanciful chandeliers, and movie posters. Featuring the cuisine of Northern Peru with its potato specialties and ceviches, Cholo’s is much more than a luncheonette. Chunky soups, rice-based dishes, and grilled meats are wonderful and reasonably priced. This is primarily beer food, but a tropically flavored “smoothie” works too.

2.Julianna’s (276 Watchhill Rd, Cortlandt Manor, 914-788-0505; juliannasonline.com).Once a schoolhouse, then a roadhouse, Julianna’s, snuggled into a residential neighborhood, is, like its cuisine, unpretentious and homey: shrimp cocktail, seafood mac ‘n’ cheese with truffle oil and spinach added, house-made raviloi, and Thai-style fried calamari. The homemade ice creams are a must. You’ll wish it were your local haunt.

3.Mauro’s Restaurant (199 Main St, Ossining, 914-941-2662; maurosrestaurant.com). The historic Keenan building houses this traditional, white-tablecloth Italian restaurant where ex-Mulino’s chef John Gervasi was recently added as consulting chef. Rich pasta combinations and the usual veal and chicken dishes are balanced with more contemporary touches, such as goat-cheese ravioli and lobster spring rolls. Look for homemade spinach pasta with crabmeat, grilled veal chops, or swordfish, prepared with capers and artichoke hearts. Staff is professional and you can hear your dining companions’ conversation, rare today.

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4. Sardegna (154 Larchmont Ave, Larchmont, 914-833-3399; sardegnany.com). Your ol’ faves (fettuccine Bolognese, spaghetti vongole, chicken Milanese, and veal pizzaiola) are here, but look for the Sardinian secrets instead: pane carasau (crispy flatbread), spaghetti bottariga (garlic, oil, and dried mullet roe) or bombas alla sarda (meatballs Sardinian-style).

5. Serafina Trattoria Pizzeria (228 S Highland Ave, Ossining, 914-941-5454; serafinatrattoria.com). In 1997, the Martin family morphed their then 22-year-old pizzeria, Pizza Beat, into a full-fledged eatery with granite tables and custom woodwork called Serafina. And don’t let the Irish-sounding surname fool you. Franco Martin is an Italian originally from Argentina and wife Serafina is a native of Canosa Sannita, Italy, so expect to hear the romance language across the dining room. Also expect specials such as tripe alla Romana and pan-seared chicken in a cognac sauce. Pizzas also are offered, prepared by son Christian Martin, who learned pizza making in Canosa Sannita, and include such gourmet toppings as prosciutto di Parma and shiitake mushrooms. Say hi to Mama Serafina Martin, the hostess, and don’t forget to order a bottle from the bargain wine list ($25-$35).

6. Spinelli’s (26 E Main St, Mount Kisco, 914-242-0009). It’s easy to walk right past Spinelli’s and assume it’s the pizza joint next door. No, no, no. The restaurant is white-tablecloth. The long, narrow room ends in an archway and is painted in soothing peach and greens. The menu is classic but upscale Italian: caprese and fried calamari, yes, but also fruit and cheese platter, onion tart with goat cheese, and seared scallops. A “gourmet” pizza selection and lots of pasta join Cornish hen and duck specials.

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