For me, a busy, multi-tasking mom of two, there’s nothing better than knowing dinner is taken care of—with enough left over for another night. Which is why I’m a huge fan of gourmet shops where I can buy food to go—including healthier choices that are not fried or drenched in butter. This gastronomic convenience especially helps in the summertime, when temperatures leap into the 90s and just the thought of turning my stove on makes me sweat. Granted, you can always pick up a rotisserie chicken at Stop & Shop, but, with the love and care that go into meals from these local mom-and-pop food stores, why would you?
The folks at the third-generation family-owned Cole’s Market (2147 Albany Post Rd, Montrose 914-737-7737; colesmarket.net) know about feeding hungry Westchesterites. Aside from the fresh seafood, produce, and meats—the store is known for its 10 varieties of sausage made in-house with no preservatives—there’s a host of delicious hot and cold foods offered, among them chicken cutlets, tortellini salad, and baked ziti. The hot items don’t come out until about 4 pm, so you know they’re fresh when you stop by after work.
Seasonal favorites are a big part of the offerings at Cooked & Co. (128 Garth Rd, Scarsdale 914-205-3939; cookedandco.com), where something interesting is always cooking. Among the usual suspects: veggie burgers, cauliflower mash, half-roasted eggplant, turkey meatballs, grilled salmon Provençal, and grilled chicken Parmesan. My advice? Check the website, where menus are updated daily. Then, call to reserve what you want as everything sells out quickly.
There are so many goodies to choose from at Myong Gourmet (487 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-241-6333; plgourmet.com), it’s hard to pick just one. So don’t. Pair a salad with spicy Korean chicken, Berkshire Asian-glazed baby back ribs, or brick duck. One of the most economical choices is the chicken club special (available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays): You get a four-pound whole-roasted Bell & Evans free-range organic chicken and two sides for $28. (I’m also a huge fan of the egg salad, which is, in my opinion, among the best in the County.)
Mini pot pies (chicken, mac and cheese, and shepherd’s) are one reason why people like SF Express (82 Kraft Ave, Bronxville 914-337-2735; scarboroughfaironline.com); the other is the consistent high-quality food. For a small place, there’s a wide range: usually four to eight entrées, among them fresh daily soups and items such as cheese ravioli, cold-roasted sliced beef tenderloin, pan-seared Chilean sea bass, and kids’ chicken tenders.
The chopped salads are very popular at Standing Room Only (1491 Weaver St, Scarsdale 914-472-3002; srofinefoods.com), as are the pre-made salads with names like Fox Meadow, Heathcote, and Quaker Ridge (all sections of Scarsdale, for those who don’t know). Among the other in-demand items: the cracked-peppercorn salmon, the Canyon Ranch double-baked potatoes, and the honey-ginger chicken with light soy. Just don’t leave without sampling The 4:00 Cookie, a low-sugar, low-glycemic afternoon snack (just 200 calories!) created by a Tarrytown mom of three and sold at the register.
The kale salad practically has a cult following at Susan Lawrence (26 N Greeley Ave, Chappaqua 914-238-8833; susanlawrence.com), but also popular is the array of delicious ever-changing dishes. Some of my favorites: the ginger-lime chicken salad, the summer-vegetable lasagna, the roasted shrimp in chipotle barbecue sauce, and the veal meatballs. And the desserts are just as enticing. Word to the wise: Try the banana upside-down cake.
When you need to grab and go, head to the those coveted free 15-minute parking spots in front of The Iron Tomato (57 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-328-9400; theirontomato.com), where items like salmon teriyaki, rigatoni with broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes, penne vodka, eggplant rollatini, and sausage and peppers make for a nice meal—or meals. Of course, with the pizza station, deli, salad bar, cheeses, and sushi, you have many options to choose from.
Even the super-busy among us have time to boil water, making a stop at A. Mercurio Sons (363 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck 914-698-4127; amercuriosons.com) a must. At this longtime Avenue mainstay, you’ll find a full line of plain and flavored pastas along with a variety of store-made sauces and stellar garlic bread (in the freezer). Frozen dinners, available in both small and family-size pans, make stockpiling future meals a no-brainer. Among the options: spaghetti and meatballs, cheese ravioli, manicotti, stuffed shells, lasagna, and chicken with lemon butter sauce. Just be warned: It’s cash or personal check only.
The Rye Country Store (41 Purchase St, Rye 914-967-3450; ryecountrystore.com) is crammed with everything from fresh fruit and veggies to housewares to delicious prepared foods including lasagna (meat and veggie), mac and cheese, fried chicken, meatloaf, and poached salmon. If you have even the slightest sweet tooth, the giant chocolate-chip cookies artfully displayed atop the glass cases will no doubt end up among your purchases.
There’s a dedicated gourmet pizza station, sushi station, deli counter (with lots of house-made salads), and bakery delights (including terrific bread) at Turco’s (380 Downing Dr, Yorktown Heights 914-243-9100; turcos.com), where it’s easy to satisfy a
family of four (or more) with breakfast, lunch, and dinner goodies. Among the premade dishes: eggplant or chicken Parmesan and lasagna.
Spinach quiche, pasta with vegetables, barbecue chicken (and chicken wings), and grilled salmon are among the standard offerings at Zeytinia Gourmet (56 Maple St, Croton 914-271-5600; zeytinia.com) where produce, cheeses, and baked goods also take center stage. Granted, this gourmet supermarket is not a mom-and-pop store, per se, but it’s the kind of foodie fest we wish this part of the County had more of.
My Prepared Meal Secret
When you really have no time, check out New Rochelle-based Dinner in Hand (914-380-5084; dinnerinhand.com), which delivers meals that taste like you made them yourself. Order by 8 am for same-day delivery.
Also worth noting
- Balducci’s (15 Palmer Ave, Scarsdale 914-722-0200; balduccis.com)
- DeCicco Family Markets (locations in Ardsley, Armonk, Brewster, Pelham, Scarsdale, and Harrison; deciccos.com)
- Tarry Market (179 N Main St, Port Chester 914-253-5680; tarrymarket.com)
- Fairway (847 Pelham Pkwy, Pelham Manor 914-712-0011; fairwaymarket.com)
Jeanne Muchnick (jeannemuchnick.com), author of Dinner for Busy Moms, is a big believer in doing whatever it takes to have a family meal. In other words, she’s a prepared-foods fan.