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The Best of Everything

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Best of Westchester ‘04

Selected by the Staff of Westchester Magazine

Text by Laurie Yarnell
with Marisa LaScala and Nancy Claus Giles

Featuring Photography by John Fortunato

In a county of nearly one million people, most (all?) oF whom have their own strong feelings about what’s good, what’s better and what’s best, we might have been hesitant to express our own favorites. No way. We’re journalists. We get paid for nosing around and finding out what’s good, what’s better and what’s best. And besides, we have a team of experts—critics, shopaholics and Westchester know-it-alls—to help inform us. So here it is: our annual guide to the best of everything in our county. Our best guide, yet.

Food

Restaurants

Best Brunch
Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro
Rye
(914) 921-4166

As good as Sarabeth’s—and easier to get to (and into). Ruby’s serves brunch that is not for the faint of stomach. Begin with a batch of fresh chilled oysters on the half shell, then dig into ultra-rich eggs Benedict with a slice of tender filet mignon, or treat yourself to a heady omelet stuffed with lobster, asparagus and Brie. And take advantage, too, of the bistro’s many stellar wines, offered at half-price during brunch.

Best Authentic Mexican Food
The Little Mexican Café
New Rochelle
(914) 636-3701

Here, Spanish-speaking grandmas prepare fiery tamales the old-fashioned way—by hand and according to time-honored tradition—one at a time. And they make a mean posole, too.

Best Korean Barbecue
Kang Suh
Yonkers
(914) 771-4066

There’s a reason this restaurant is always packed. It’s good. A delicious do-it-yourself cooking experience.

Best Sports Bar
The Sports Page Pub
Mamaroneck
(914) 761-6697

Owned by former New York Giants’ center Robert Hyland, this is just the place to knock back some brewskis and watch the big game. Kick off with a macho mound o’ wings and a mess of golden-fried calamari. Twenty-five TVs in the bar area and 30 in the dining room put you right at the 50-yard line or center court.

Best New Bistro
The Red Hat
Irvington
(914) 591-5888

Chapeaux off to this charming newcomer with the hip bistro look—a swanky zinc bar, red leather banquettes, vintage stamped tin ceilings. Still, neither man nor woman can live on looks alone. Savor a perfectly grilled ham-and-cheese croque madame or a special plate of pumpkin-filled gnocchi with minced pancetta, chanterelle mushrooms and sage—and leave room for the French farmhouse-style desserts. Our favorite? The crock of nutmeg-and-cinnamon-flavored bread pudding. Atkins who?

Best New Italian Restaurant
Aurora
Rye
(914) 921-2333

Superb, upscale Northern Italian cuisine in a chic, sophisticated space of deep, rich woods, amber lighting and hand-painted ceilings. Try the shrimp-stuffed ravioli (resist licking the plate clean for every last bit of the sage and sorrel-flavored sauce) and the tenderloin of veal served with smoked mozzerella, sun-dried tomatoes and grilled eggplant. Or make your way through its various super-slim- crusted gourmet pizzas.

Best Place to Experience a Culinary Revolution
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Pocantico Hills
(914) 366-9600

Go visit your mother. Do 100 sit-ups. Give up reality TV. Maybe if you’re good, really good, you’ll be able to secure a weekend reservation at what is arguably the most exciting and creative culinary experiment in the nation. “Blue Hill,” one knowledgeable foodie chirped, “will do for New York what Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse did for California cuisine.” From the farm right outside the dining room window (the greenhouses, chickens, sheep and pigs are not just for show) to your table, an organic, fresh-from-the-farm dinner awaits. Call it “Westchester cuisine.”

Best Portuguese Restaurant
Caravela Restaurant
Tarrytown
(914) 631-1863

Come hungry; the portions are large and filling. Dig into such authentic favorites as sizzling hot filet of codfish, smothered with golden garlic cloves served over sautéed onions and sweet red peppers, or hearty paella with succulent shrimp, clams and mussels, tender pieces of chicken and pork, and house-made sausage. And, though you may think you can’t eat one more bite, think again. Odds are if you order the homemade fruit tart—and do—you’ll devour it in no time flat. You can always work it off at the gym tomorrow.

Best Chinese Restaurant
Ray’s Café
Larchmont (914) 833-2551
Rye Brook (914) 937-0747

You won’t be swept away by Ray’s uninspired décor, but you will be floored by Ray’s food—delicately flavored cashew-nut chicken, sautéed fresh broccoli and snow peas, crispy bean curd in garlic sauce and homemade wide, flat noodles flecked with tender chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables.

Best Family-Style Italian Restaurant
Augie’s Restaurant
Larchmont
(914) 834-3800

The portions are so huge at this popular family-style restaurant that no one leaves without an oversized doggie bag. Order the hearty sausage-and-meatballs Sunday dinner for two for $22.95—and expect to have enough in that doggie bag for lunch and dinner Monday, too.

Best Indian Restaurant
Coromandel, Cuisine of India
New Rochelle
(914) 235-8390

The offerings are sublime—from the kodi vepuda, spicy tender chicken in a dry masala sauce, to the transcendent shamm savera, mild Indian cheese wrapped in spinach leaves. Do try the mouthwatering masala dosa, a savory crispy rice and lentil crêpe and the fragrant sabji bhaji stew of ginger-flavored, sautéed garden-fresh potatoes in a fiery yogurt- curry sauce. And leave room for the classic gulab jamun dessert of delicately fried pastry served in a sweet sauce flavored with cardamom, saffron and rose water.

Best Neo-Japanese Restaurant
Koo
Rye
(914) 921-9888

A huge “thank Koo” to co-owner Yona Hsieh for bringing some of her Nobuesque expertise to our part of New York. The restaurant’s décor is stunning and its food superb. Start your meal with heavenly lobster with pea shoots in a Champagne citrus vinaigrette or spicy king crab tortilla. (A Japanese chili powder delivers the kick). For an entrée, order the yellowfin tuna with jalapeño. You’ll be obsessing about it for days on end.

Best High-End Bargain
Xaviar’s at Piermont
Piermont, NY
(845) 359-7007

All right. Technically, Piermont is not in Westchester. But chef Peter Kelly is a Yonkers boy, and he’s scheduled to open another culinary mecca in his riverfront hometown. Besides, Piermont is so darn close to the county (there’s just a river between it and us), and Kelly is so darn talented (both Xaviar’s and Kelly’s less formal restaurant next door, Freelance Café, received a score of 29 out of 30 for its food in the Zagat Survey) that who gives a hoot about technicalities? Just cross that bridge and plunk down $60 for what may be the most extraordinary, most luscious and most creative four-course meal north of the city.

Best Prix-Fixe Dinner
Cafe Mezé
Hartsdale
(914) 428-2400

Enjoy the exotic flavors from the sun-drenched coastal areas of France and Italy with this Mediterranean stalwart’s three-course, prix-fixe dinner. A delicate, paper-thin trio of salmon (smoked salmon, gravlax, salmon tartar) served with a jasmine rice cake. Piquant sausage-stuffed pan-roasted chicken in a fennel and lemon garlic sauce. Heavenly vanilla panna cotta with fresh blueberry compote. All for $27 (the cost of an entrée in some restaurants). Available Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m; stellar service included.

Best Summer Dining
Blu
Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-4481

What it’s lacking in vowels Blu more than makes up for with its spectacular view of the Palisades Cliffs and the Hudson. Drink in the river view while dining on the deck. Begin with such refreshing summertime starters as chilled cucumber soup with tender lump crab meat, grilled shrimp cocktail with candied fennel or a baby beet arugula salad with pepper-crusted goat cheese. Then try the crispy soft-shell crab with fresh herbal salad, jasmine rice and red pepper miso sauce or a rare seared Moroccan-spiced tuna served over curry couscous and fresh navel orange salad. And finish with a chilled mango sorbet or a homemade, market-fresh, peach and blueberry cobbler. How good is that?

Best New Seafood Restaurant
F.I.S.H.
Port Chester
(914) 939-4227

This funky eatery by the Long Island Sound is tucked away and hard to find. But don’t let that deter you. F.I.S.H.’s octopus salad with hot cherry peppers and calamata olives in lemon and olive oil, its devilishly good lobster fra diavolo, seared sashimi-grade tuna “mignon” au poivre and just about everything else on the menu is too good to miss.

Best Prix-Fixe Lunch
Stoneleigh Creek Restaurant
Croton Falls
(845) 276-0000

Savor an elegant, three-course prix-fixe lunch. Menus change seasonally, but think oysters rolled in seasoned cornmeal and flash-fried, seared tuna with a sesame soy dressing or flame-grilled sirloin with shoestring fries for just $13.95 ($3 more with a glass of house wine) at this charming, cottage-like foodie-fave. Available every day but Monday from 12 p.m to 2:30 p.m.

Best Pan-Asian Restaurant
Water Moon
Rye
(914) 921-6652

No wonder Water Moon is always packed. Its prices are reasonable, its dishes a magnificent mélange of culinary inspirations and the service comes with a smile. Try the Thai crab cake starter garnished with pineapple salsa and served in a pomelo plum sauce, the stir-fried chicken and shrimp with Szechuan peppercorns and the crispy duck and beef chow fun. And then, swoon over the chocolate truffle cake: Similar to a chocolate mousse cake, it’s served with a scoop of fresh coconut sorbet—and both are drizzled with mango raspberry sauce and garnished with seasonal berries. What a way to fill your daily
fruit quota.

Best Winter Dining
Purdys Homestead
North Salem
(914) 277-2301

A 1775 Revolutionary War-period house. A crackling warm fireplace. A bracing hot toddy. Those first may have brought us to Purdys. But what brings us back—again and again—is the food. We love the superb roasted oysters, the sublime onion tower and the sumptuous coriander-crusted pork tenderloin. And, of course, those homemade desserts; it’s nearly impossible to choose between the chocolate profiteroles with raspberry sauce and the sour cherry apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. It’s best to order both.

Best Little-Known Restaurant
Piero’s
Port Chester
(914) 937-2904

A restaurateur’s restaurant. Owners of far more elegant local establishments drop by Piero’s to enjoy the homey and cozy (okay, cramped) restaurant’s generous portions of authentic, homemade Italian cuisine. You should too.

Most Charming Bistro
Buffet de la Gare
Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-1671

It’s not just the tin ceilings, wall sconces, copper detailing and superb cassoulet, vol-au-vent and coq au vin that makes this country French bistro so charming, although, Lord knows, that would suffice. But add to all that owners Annie and Gwen Goulet’s lilting accents, welcoming smiles and nurturing ministrations, and you can’t help but fall madly in love with the bistro—and the Goulets. In fact, odds are the minute you leave, sated and pampered, you’ll begin to plan a return trip—not just for more of the heavenly, flaky puff pastry stuffed with sweet lobster and asparagus or the decadently rich profiteroles, but to see Annie and Gwen, your charming new friends.

Best OverSized Portions
The Cheesecake Factory
White Plains
(914) 683-5253

Before the portion-control police discover the humongous dishes of crunchy Chinese chicken salad, hearty jambalaya and fragrant chicken Madeira, take your hungry self over and bring your hungry friends. Just make sure to wear drawstring-waist pants.

Best Retro Restaurant
Brooklyn’s Famous Sub Shop & Pasta
White Plains
(914) 422-0115

Get your homemade, generously sized, crispy fries and frothy, thick, won’t-fit-through-the-straw shakes from servers in ’50s uniforms with Chuck Berry boogieing in the background.

Best Wine List
Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn
Chappaqua
(914) 666-8044

It should come as no surprise that the Kittle House has won the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award for the past 10 years. Its 299-page(!) wine menu lists the names of 5,500(!) wines. Nuff said.

Best American Bistro with Entertainment
Watercolor Café
Larchmont
(914) 834-2213

Catch a rising jazz or folk star with your crispy cornmeal calamari. Often free, performances are scheduled most Wednesdays through Saturdays on a petite-sized stage with great sight lines. All this and first-rate food, too.

Best Private Dining Room
Finch Tavern
Croton Falls
(914) 277-4580

This charming dining room in the lovingly restored Finch Tavern, with gorgeous pale-green wainscotting and brown walls accented with gold flowers, gives you a nice way to entertain like the landed gentry—enjoy your foie gras and Finch fries in privacy. Gather your dearest friends for a special brunch, lunch or dinner. For a summer soirée, dine alfresco on the porch.

Best Coffeehouse
Dragonfly Caffé
Pleasantville
(914) 747-7477

These caffeine vixens serve up a near-perfect cup of imported java. Enjoy your favorite jolt, anything from a frothy latte, a foamy cappuccino, a chocolatey café mocha or the signature Dragotino (like a Starbucks frappuccino, only better) with a yummy home-baked cookie (the popular oatmeal with white-chocolate cranberry cookies are scrumptious). The café, decorated with paper lanterns and a large antique opium table (not to worry—caffeine’s the drug of choice here) is the perfect spot to linger before or after catching a flick at the Jacob Burns.

Best Special-Occasion Restaurant
Equus at The Castle on the Hudson
Tarrytown
(914) 631-3646

How grand is it to propose, celebrate or seal a deal sitting in a hilltop castle with a wine steward filling your Champagne glass and attentive waiters fulfilling your every gastronomic desire? Very. Relax in a regal, high-back upholstered chair in the historic Oak Room. With a manor-style stone fireplace, this hunting lodge-like room, one of three dining rooms, was first owned by Louis XIV and then brought intact to the Castle upon its construction a century ago. Start with a divine Maryland crab cake with avocado marmalade and chipotle remoulade, enjoy a tender seared filet of Black Angus beef in red wine reduction with savory wild mushroom ragout, and finish with the signature Castle chocolate cake with black raspberry ice cream and fresh berry sauce. It’s easy to imagine that you’re a member of a royal family here—one who appreciates superb food, impeccable service and astounding views of the gardens, the Hudson and the Manhattan skyline.

Best New Tea Shop
Temptation Teahouse
Mt. Kisco
(914) 666-8808

A haven for tea lovers. Relax by the interior waterfall and koi pond or cozy up into the hand-shaped pop art sofa with a spot of fruity green tea, a cup of black tea blend, a sweet tea smoothie or our favorite, honeydew bubble tea (choose from a dozen flavors of this popular creamy tea with tapioca pearls). As you sip, give into the tempting Asian fusion snacks; enjoy Thai crab cakes, Japanese-style eel, Vietnamese roll and Thai-style tempura shrimp. And do try not to gawk at the schoolgirl uniform-clad waitresses. Staring, mom must have told you, is not polite.

Most Gregarious Chef/Restaurateur
Philip McGrath of
Iron Horse Grill
Pleasantville
(914) 741-0717

Take our advice: When dining at the Iron Horse Grill, join the clean plate club. If you don’t finish what’s on your plate, Philip McGrath might just call you at home to inquire if everything was all right. McGrath is our kind of chef: a chef who cares, really cares—and cooks, really, really well. Ever tasted his divine timbale of Peaky Toe crab or zesty thyme-rubbed rack of lamb, or the maple crème brûlée? If you can’t finish it all, bring us along to help you out.
Special Dishes

Best Meze
Turkish Meze
Mamaroneck
(914) 777-3042

Flaky golden phyllo dough puffy with tangy feta cheese. Zesty chopped baby eggplant with plump tomatoes and pungent garlic. Savory cubes of tender calf’s liver, pan-seared and served with market-fresh tomatoes, raw onions and crisp romaine lettuce. Plus shredded wheat baklava for dessert. Graze to your heart’s—and palate’s—content.

Best House-Made Ice Cream
La Crémaillère
Bedford
(914) 234-9647

One spoonful of La Crémaillère’s wild forest strawberry ice cream and…wow! The creamiest, most luscious ice cream that, thanks to owners Robert and Bobbie Meyzen, we can enjoy at home, too—straight from the carton (it’ll never make it into a bowl). La Crémaillère’s ice cream is
sold at select local retailers including the Hartsdale Cheesery, Chappaqua Village Market and Mrs. Green’s.

Best Mussels Bargain
Le Provençal Bistro
Mamaroneck
(914) 777-2324

A mere $17.50 gets you a deep bowl full of plump sweet bivalves in a fragrant sea of herb-infused white wine sauce accompanied by shoestring-thin French fries on Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Best Cubano Sandwiches
Latin American Café
White Plains
(914) 948-6606

Picture a wedge filled with sliced ham, seasoned pork, sweet pickles and slightly nutty-flavored Swiss cheese, slathered with sweet yellow mustard and a zesty mojo sauce of onion, lemon and garlic, grilled together on a sizzling hot press that turns its innards into a yummy goo. For $6.50, it’s the sandwich equivalent of those coveted cigars, for a lot less pesos.

Best Vegetable Appetizer
Grilled Asparagus, Blue
White Plains
(914) 220-0932

Is it any wonder this dish has already won so many fans already? Combining tender stalks of fresh-grilled asparagus in a delicately flavored cream sauce with chunks of sweet lobster and fresh walnut is just brilliant—and delicious. Joan Lunden loves this starter dish. We do too.

Best Calamari
MacMenamin’s Grill & ChefWorks
New Rochelle
(914) 632-4900

We’ve always loved calamari prepared the old-fashioned way—fried and dunked in red sauce. But when we tasted chef Brian MacMenamin’s calamari dish—citrus flavored, crusted with cashews and scallions and bathed in a hot and sour orange sauce—our taste buds nearly wept with joy. It’s a cathartic culinary experience.

Best Steak Frites
Encore Bistro Français
Larchmont
(914) 833-1661

Just like those served at your favorite Parisian bistro: Thick and juicy high-quality strip loin steak, grilled to perfection, and served either in a red wine and roasted shallot sauce or in a creamy blue cheese or green peppercorn sauce. And the frites? Made fresh every day, they’re crunchy, crisp and lightly salted—très magnifique.

Best Ice Cream Sandwich
Spy Rock Grille
Pound Ridge
(914) 764-0200

A brilliant gourmet twist on the traditional ice cream treat. Sandwiched between two home-baked oatmeal cookies is fresh vanilla ice cream (hand-made in Mr. Shane’s ice cream parlor in Ridgefield, CT) drizzled with cold black currant sauce or warm chocolate sauce. Häagen-Dazs who?

Best Sirloin Steak
Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse
Rye
(914) 925-3900

Its 22-ounce, perfectly cooked prime-aged sirloin tastes wonderful—with or without Frankie & Johnnie’s slightly sweet and smoky steak sauce.

Best-Dressed Burger
B4
Valhalla
(914) 328-4199

The signature B4 burger consists of eight ounces of juicy, grade-A ground chuck topped with Swiss cheese, premium hand-cut bacon and—the pièce de résistance—a sunny-side up egg whose runny yolk means, look mom, no ketchup. Lotsa protein for all those Atkins adherents (skip the bun, you won’t miss it).

Best Crêpe Dessert
Chez Claude
Hartsdale
(914) 948-0597

Marry velvety, ripe bananas with rich, sweet white chocolate mousse in a delicate, thin crêpe and serve with warm, homemade chocolate sauce and voila! The best crêpe you’ll find this side of the Seine.

Best Grand Marnier Soufflé
Le Château
South Salem
(914)533-6631

Light, airy and with just a hint of cognac-flavored liqueur, Le Château’s delicate soufflé is served with an ambrosial, rich crème anglaise. Order at the start of your meal so it’s ready when you are ($11.75).

Best Seafood Platter
Larchmont Avenue
Oyster House & Fish Market
Larchmont
(914) 833-7659

Savor these sensational fruits of the sea: fresh succulent shrimp, tender Prince Edward Island mussels, plump littleneck clams from Rhode Island and half a sweet steamed lobster in the shell. Served with steamed potatoes, onions and fresh corn on the cob, it’s a fabulous feast for any hungry seafood-loving fan at $24.50.

Best Pan Pizza
Abatino’s Pizza & Pasta
North White Plains
(914) 328-6579

Serious pan-pizza purists swear by Abatino’s. Farm-fresh tomatoes, plenty of gooey mozzarella and lotsa pungent fresh garlic piled on a 16-inch square pie ($13). If you indulge, make sure your significant other digs in too (you’ll thank us later). Or pick up a single slice (or two or three) for $2 each, and plan to stop in at the neighboring Stop & Shop for some Altoids before you go home.

Best-Priced Kobe Steak
Flames Steakhouse
Briarcliff Manor
(914) 923-3100

You’d be super-tender, too, if you were massaged daily, lulled to sleep with jazz and drank only beer (lots happier, too). That’s the secret behind the juicy, melts-in-your-mouth Kobe steak served here. But that kind of pampering doesn’t come cheap. So $85 for a 19 to 20 ounce strip of Kobe steak, grilled to your liking, is a veritable bargain.

Best Crab Cakes
Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge
Yonkers
(914) 376-6500

Made from fresh crabmeat with sweet Asian chili, mayo, peppers, onions, thyme, lemon zest and a sprinkle of the chef’s breadcrumbs, Zuppa’s crab cakes, pan-fried with herbs and marinated fennel, are divine.

Best Lobster
Conte’s Fishmarket
Mt. Kisco
(914) 666-6929 or
(914) 666-3962

Conte’s “new-caught” (fresh from the ocean) kings of the crustacean family are consistently sweet and succulent. Order ’em up steamed ($28) or stuffed with shrimp and scallops ($36), and they arrive accompanied by steamed fresh spinach or baby bok choy. Conte’s luscious lobsters also make delicious guest appearances in the fragrant house bouillabaisse and hearty cioppino fish stew.

Best Pizza Pie
Johnny’s Pizzeria
Mt. Vernon
(914) 668-1957

John Mariani, Esquire magazine’s food writer, calls Johnny’s pies “pretty near perfect.” We can’t argue with that. Pizza pundits praise the slightly charred crust with a pleasantly bitter flavor that’s topped with a delicately sweet tomato sauce dappled with blistered mozzarella. Made according to a secret Italian recipe that’s been in Johnny’s family since 1921, the pizza features fresh tomatoes on top of the cheese. Johnny’s pizza, alas, is not sold by the slice, but it is so darn good that on your own you could polish off a small pie ($10). But what the hey; for a dollar more, order the bigger-sized pie and enjoy what’s left in the morning.

Best Mac and Cheese
Ümami Café
Croton-on-Hudson
(914) 271-5555

Yes, we’ve touted this dish before. But we can’t help crowing about it time and time again because this childhood favorite is hardly like mom’s (sorry Mom), unless mom (lucky you) is a gourmet cook who assembled al dente macaroni in heavy cream and sautéed shallots with fresh Fontina and Parmesan cheese in black truffle butter and white truffle oil. Finished with a touch of fresh chives and house-
made toasted breadcrumbs, it’s seriously yummy comfort food.

Best Buffalo Wings
Peabody’s Café
Chappaqua
(914) 238-6416

Likely to start a stampede: Prepare to share this popular pub appetizer of extra-plump chicken wings that are first oven-baked and then quickly deep-fried to produce a crispy exterior to seal the savory juices inside. Or better yet, order an extra round so you don’t have to.

Best Dim Sum
Aberdeen
Harrison
(914) 835-0880

We can hardly get enough of the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, or the signature sautéed clams in black bean sauce, or, for that matter, the thick pork chop in a velvety sweet-and-sour Peking sauce. And what about the flavorful pork taro root dumplings or sweet lotus seed buns? Love ’em. But what cinches the deal and gets us to skip the Sunday-morning talk shows is the fun we have choosing among the many culinary creations that pass on wheeled carts. Hey, there. Stop, stop, please! What’s that? Lotus leaf sticky rice? Okay, we’ll try it.

Best Veal Milanese
Bacio Trattoria
Cross River
(914) 763-2233

Just like the kind served at those little trattorias in Milan. The milk-fed veal cutlet, pounded tender thin, is coated with house-made breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil with just the right amount of seasoning. It’s topped with flavorful cherry tomatoes, sweet red onions and crisp chopped arugula.

Best Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Spaccarelli’s
Millwood
(914) 941-0105

Devilishly good: a half-dozen market-fresh jumbo shrimp and juicy plum tomatoes sautéed in hot olive oil and white wine, and seasoned with a touch of fresh garlic, basil and crushed hot red pepper. Perfection.

Best Hummus
Lefteris Gyro
Tarrytown
(914) 524-9687

A taste of the Mediterranean. Made from an old family recipe brought back from Greece, this flavorful, smooth spread, made fresh daily, strikes just the righ balance between the tahini (sesame paste) and the ground chickpeas. Seriously addictive when served with warm pita bread.

Drinks

Best Specialty Margaritas
Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant
Briarcliff Manor
(914) 944-4380

What a wonderful way to waste away a summer’s afternoon. Our favorite from the dozen offered? The fresh mango, a nice, not-too-sweet twist on the standard that goes down easy with—or without—the freshly made guacamole and chips.

Best Martini
Moscato
Scarsdale
(914) 723-5700

Crisp, dry and straight up, it’s over the top. And served in a frosted glass with floating ice shivers and fresh, plump green olives.

Best Espresso
Sassinoro Café
White Plains
(914) 993-0471

The real thing: dark, thick and deliciously potent with a thin layer of creamy dark froth. Especially delicioso with a slice of panna cotta, flown straight over from Italy.

Food & Wine Shops

Best Wine Shop
Westchester Wine Warehouse
White Plains
(914) 824-1400

Cheers! Whether you’re a savvy wine connoisseur or just looking to impress your father-in-law oenophile, Westchester Wine Warehouse can help you choose the right bottle or case to enjoy or impress snobs, related or not. More than 1,000 bottles from all over the globe and at a range of price points.

Best Shop for French Cheese
Auray Cheese Shop
Larchmont
(914) 833-2274

Is it any wonder Larchmont’s significant French community shops here? This jewel box fromagerie, which (merci bien) shuns commercial cheeses and carries more than 100 artisan specialties, some of which are made by hand. You haven’t really had cheese until you’ve had theirs. The nutty cave-aged Gruyère and Burgundy-washed Epoisses are terrific. Ditto the fine-grained, ash-covered Valencay de L’Indre goat cheese, the velvety Vacherin Mont D’Or and the tangy Le Deilloute Brie.

Best Produce
Apple Farms
White Plains
(914) 288-9521

Get an apple a day from this busy, bazaar-like marketplace and it’ll take you ten of ’em to sample all the varieties sold here, including New York State’s sweet-tart Jonagold and juicy, red-wine colored Macoun, and that sweetly tart California girl, The Pink Lady. Celebrate the seasons with handfuls of sweet, purplish-black Bing cherries in summer, juicy sweet blood oranges and fragrant prickly pears in the fall, pungent broccoli rabe in winter and tender asparagus and fiddleheads in spring. No time to cook after cruising the racks at neighboring Loehmann’s? Toss together some of the cold cuts from the deli counter with some crisp fresh greens and vine-ripe tomatoes for a carb-conscious chef’s salad. Apple Farms may not be much to look at, but it’s great taste we’re after here, not great décor.

Best Italian Deli
Cosmo & Alex Deli
Mamaroneck
(914) 381-4402

For those days when there’s no time to set foot in the kitchen (We call ’em weekdays). Pick up homemade, mouthwatering pasta and chicken dishes worthy of an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. Also try Cosmo’s fresh ham, salami and prosciutto for sandwiches with that special pizzazz.

Best Coffee Shop
Coffee Labs Roasters
Tarrytown
(914) 332-1479

Coffee fanatics Mike Love and Alicia Kelligrew are happy to share their expertise for brewing the perfect cup of java, including mastering the fine art of grinding (they’ll demonstrate on their $55,000 coffee roaster) and appreciating the subtleties of aroma and flavor. Order a café rosetta (a latte with the design of a rose etched in the foamy hot milk) and a buttery brioche (from SoHo-based Balthazar Bakery). Bonus: It’s a guilt-free cup; 75 percent of their beans are Fair Trade certified, which means farmers get a fair price for their crops.

Best Mediterranean Groceries
Yaranush
White Plains
(914) 682-8449

A one-stop shop for all those hard-to-find big, bold Mediterranean tastes. Its exotic selection includes scrumptious cheeses, olives and olive oil from Greece (try the kasseri or halloumi) and frozen products from Israel. Yaranush’s pomegranate syrup is delicious in salad dressing.

Best Gourmet Supermarket
Turco’s Super Ranch
Hartsdale (914) 761-4414
Yorktown Heights (914) 243-9100

The sausages and mozzarella are homemade, the meat (including beef, veal and lamb) cut to order, and the imported cheeses are excellent and perfect for party platters. Toss some market-fresh fruits and vegetables in your basket, and you’re good to go.

Best Fish Store
Mt. Kisco Seafood
Mt. Kisco
(914) 241-3113

For the a-fish-ionado, this market carries more than 30 varieties of the best fish each day, all guaranteed to be scrupulously fresh. Buy some for the grill or try the pre-made dishes, including poached salmon and baked clams. Be sure to pick up one of their oh-so-yummy chowders, or, if time won’t allow, have it delivered.

Specialty Food & Drinks

Best Pickles
Epstein’s Kosher Deli& Restaurant
Yonkers (914) 793-3131
Hartsdale (914) 428-5320

Plunk down two quarters for one of these mouth-puckering delights. Or, instead of settling for just one tart treat, indulge your sour tooth for a whole relish tray ($8.50) with sour and half-sour pickles, sour tomatoes, sauerkraut and peppers.

Best Rotisserie Chicken
Ruffled Feathers Gourmet Rotisserie Store
Scarsdale
(914) 725-6880

No feathers here, ruffled or otherwise, just moist, perfectly seasoned rotisserie chicken that’s wonderfully tender and wonderfully grease-free. Add their lightly seasoned, flavorful roasted veggies and the sweetly piquant cranberry, walnut and apple compote, and you have a yummy gourmet take-out feast.

Best Latte
Slave to the Grind
Bronxville
(914) 961-7777

Just the thing for java junkies: A foamy 12- or 20-ounce latte with the perfect ratio of robust, potent espresso and steamy, creamy milk. Add a 50-cent shot of hazelnut, caramel, vanilla, coconut, strawberry or almond for a flavorful kick. Call it gilding the lily, but we call it caffeine bliss.

Best Gourmet Gift Baskets
Antonees
Mt. Vernon
(914) 668-8643

Brimming with seasonal fruit, Perugina chocolates, gourmet Italian coffee, Lazzaroni cookies, Antonees’s own pasta sauces and even lotions, soaps and candles, these baskets, all festively tied with ribbons and bows, are a treat to give and receive. No wonder more than 6,000 are sent out each year! Choose holiday or other themed varieties (the popular “regular guy” substitutes Wise chips and Arizona Iced Teas for fancy gourmet goodies) or customize one of your own design.

Best Italian Specialties
A•S Fine Foods
Thornwood (914) 747-1449
Millwood (914) 923-8485

You’ll love these just-like-the-old-country Italian delis. A•S carries homemade mozzarella and hot Italian sausage and a wide selection of sharp and pungent imported cheeses, plus ready-to-eat dishes like spicy stuffed peppers, tender chicken marsala, mouthwatering stuffed mushrooms and their popular focaccia pizza.

Best Oversized Bread
Multigrain Herb and Marinated Calamata Olive at North Salem Cuisine
North Salem
(914) 276-0007

Man can not live by bread alone—unless he buys one of North Salem Cuisine’s 28-inch round, two-pound herb and olive loaves. The secret ingredient? A multi-grain flour imported from Germany. Not an impulse buy; orders need to be placed two days in advance.

Best Veggie Burger
Harvest Burger, Mrs. Green’s
Scarsdale
(914) 472-9675
Yorktown Heights
(914) 962-4462
and seven other locations in Westchester and Fairfield

Even non-vegetarians swoon over these meat-free, rich-tasting patties. Ultra-flavorful Harvest Burgers use organic veggies including crunchy red bell peppers, carrots, carob, peas, beets and onions along with millet flour, parsley, garlic and sea salt ($2.50).

Best Challah
Scarsdale Pastry Center
Scarsdale
(914) 723-6722

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Scarsdale pastry center’s Challah. You just have to love good Challah. This delicately sweet, light-as-air, soft-crusted bread regularly attracts lines that stretch out the door and around the corner before the High Holy Days and Shabbat—and for good reason. Bonus: Slightly stale leftover slices make gourmet-like French toast, so buy an extra loaf ($2.80).

Best Soups
Ladle of Love
Mt. Kisco
(914) 242-9661

The un-Soup Nazi. These savory, steaming hot, homemade soups are chock full of fresh vegetables and served with a smile.

Continue reading for our Shopping section and the rest of the Best of Westchester 2004

 

Shopping

Clothing, Jewelry & Accessories

Best Tuxedo Store
Ridge Squire Tux, Inc.
Rye Brook
(914) 939-4613
Sometimes, bigger is better. Ridge Squire has the biggest selection of designer tuxes from Ralph Lauren, Ungaro and Calvin Klein in the tri-state area—for sale or for rent. To ensure you look picture-perfect, expert tailoring is available on premises. Knock ’em dead, big guy.

Best Designer Collection
R&M Woodrow Jewelers
Rye
(914) 967-0464
Think of a collection of mini-boutiques showcasing the finest designers—Aaron Basha, Roberto Coin, David Yurman, Judith Ripka, Favero, Ebel, Hermès, Michele and more. Brothers Robert and Michael Woodrow also offer the kind of old-
fashioned service that keeps us coming back for both classic baubles and hot new bling-bling.

Best New Clothing & Gift Boutique
Lucky Finds
Somers
(914) 276-7467
Former fashion publicist Rachel Florio’s new boutique is stocked with just about everything cool and trendy from children’s retro pedal cars to Kathlin Argiro couture dresses. Among recent lucky finds are such items-of-the-moment as the “junk food” T-shirt sported by Jennifer Aniston on the farewell episode of “Friends,” and the cute outfit modeled by baby Brady on “Sex and the City.” Also super for ’tweens and teens (and their hip moms) are cool fashions by Da-nang.

Best Place to Buy a Watch
Wilson & Son Jewelers
Scarsdale
(914) 723-0327
You gotta love a place that serves you espresso while you take your time—as much as you want—musing over those new Rolex (Wilson & Son is the only authorized dealer for the brand in the county) and Mount Blanc watches. Those don’t strike your fancy? Slip on timepieces by IWC, Raymond Weil or the ultra-luxurious gold designs from Wilson & Son’s private label.

Best Bra Fitting
Lilies & Lace
Armonk
(914) 273-2253
If you’re like the majority of women and wearing a poorly fitted or wrong-sized bra, head here for expert fitting assistance. As owner Anna Guebli likes to emphasize: A better fit means a better figure. Not only will a proper fitting bra in the correct size make you feel better, it’ll make you look better, too—say bustier, if you’d like to enhance what you have or thinner, if you’d rather minimize what Mother Nature gave you. Lilies & Lace has every support need covered. Choose from styles by Chantelle, La Perla, Rigby & Peller, Le Mystere and other designer lines. Bonus: Custom-fit alterations are free and they special order, too.

Best Lingerie Shop
The Corset Tree
Hastings
(914) 478-7446
Westchester’s answer to Manhattan’s legendary Town Shop: Get measured, fitted, and if that B-sized Bali brassiere or bodacious bustier doesn’t fit quite right, the sweet little elderly seamstress will customize your purchases. Also available: lotsa naughty nighties and (gasp!) G-strings.

Best New Women’s Boutique
On the One
Mt. Kisco
(914) 666-7787
The most fashion-forward clothing and accessories can be found at this ultra-trendy boutique, including designer collections by Diane Von Furstenberg, Kulson, Theory, Cacharel and Rebecca Taylor. The place to snag ultra-cool jeans by James and Citizens of Humanity, dresses by Carmen Marc Valvo, sweaters by Matilde and jewelry by Gabrielle Sanchez, personally selected for the shop by its designer.

Best Consignment Shop
The Penny Pincher
Bedford Hills
(914) 241-2134
You never know what you may find—perhaps a once-worn Chanel gown, a fabulous unused Gucci handbag, a lovely Eileen Fisher sweater set, a pair of Prada mules, a beautiful antique silver bracelet. All at a low cost. Shop here often enough and you’ll be doubly rewarded—with (1) great bargains and (2) notification of half-price sales not otherwise advertised.

Best Active Wear Store
EMS-Eastern Mountain Sports
Eastchester
(914) 725-0024
Attention all skiers, bikers, hikers, campers, canoers, kayakers and all-around adventure addicts: EMS’s unbeatable combination of extensive selection and expert service make it the place to get your adrenaline pumping. Gear up for your next big outing (or Junior’s cub scout overnight) with a mind-boggling assortment of specialized gear, clothing and footwear from such top-of-the-line brands as The North Face, Gregory, Coleman and EMS’s own all-outdoor sport line. Sales staffers are adventure and sports enthusiasts who really, really know what they are talking about and are happy to help, without being too pushy.

Best Formal Wear
Elephant’s Trunk
Mt. Kisco
(914) 666-7666
This stunning new space (built on the site where the original stood before a fire burned it down) is the proper setting for the shop’s gorgeous evening gowns and exquisite accessories. Designers represented include Rose Taft, Assar and Constance McCardle. They’ll even make a custom bag to go with your gown.

Best Women’s Fashions
Great Stuff
Rye (914) 967-1377
Scarsdale (914) 723-0504
The stuff is great—and so is the service. Not sure whether to go for the 3 Dots tee or the Diane Von Furstenberg duds? No problem. Take one of the staffers home with you—she’ll scour your closets and emerge with some helpful fashion hints (really).

Men’s Clothing

Best Custom Shirts
Mancino Tailors and Clothiers
Larchmont
(914) 834-9373
When only the best will do. Old-World master tailor Tony Mancino specializes in custom shirts and suits, but will also custom-fit off-the-rack suits and shirts from such designers as Hickey Freeman, Canali, Bruno Magli and Jack Victor.

Hobbies, Sports & Special Interests

Best Hobby Store
Westchester Trains and Hobbies
White Plains
(914) 421-1262
You can buy model trains anywhere. But putting one together? Now, that’s another story. You can pick—and pick, and pick—the brains of the expert staffers here, and they will be happy to help you. They’re collectors, too, and their knowledge (and patience) is virtually limitless (as is the shop’s huge selection of new, used, collectible and hard-to-find products).

Best Ski Shop
Hickory and Tweed
Ski & Cyclery
Armonk
(914) 273-3397
The destination for downhill ski devotees. Managed by die-hard ski enthusiasts who really know their stuff, Hickory and Tweed offers a wide-ranging selection of ski fashions and equipment, including Burton snowboards and skis by Volant, Line, Volkl and Dynastar. Come here for custom-fitted boots and bindings, and then, let it snow!

Best Comic Book Store
Alternate Realities
Scarsdale
(914) 723-7950
This 1,500-square-foot mecca is jam-packed with more than 100,000 comics (including back issues from the 1970s). You’ll also find graphic novels and tons of cards, toys and action figures, like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hero Clix and Whiz Kidz. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—these guys know everything.

Best Bike Shop
Danny’s Cycles
Scarsdale
(914) 723-3408
Danny’s goes above and beyond to custom-fit bikes to a rider’s physique, age, goals and skill level. You can also ride one in the back before you buy. They are true experts!

Best Piano Shop
Frank & Camille’s Fine Pianos
Hartsdale
(914) 285-9524
Frank and Camille’s offers a wide selection of meticulously reconditioned, pre-owned pianos and new upright, grand, digital and player pianos, organs and keyboards from such manufacturers as Yamaha, Baldwin, Chickering, Petrof, Knabe, Wurlitzer and Selier. Not sure the piano will become a lifelong passion for Junior? No problem. Frank and Camille’s will let you rent one so your budding Chopin will practice, practice, practice.

Best Golf Shop
Golf Trading
Bedford Hills
(914) 244-0025
Whether you’re a nervous novice or a pro in the know, this shop has everything you need to help turn those bogeys into birdies. You’ll find a great selection of clubs, balls, gloves and gear, plus friendly, competent service from pros who aren’t reading their spiels from cue cards.

Home & Garden

Best Wallcovering Selection
Cocobolo
Armonk
(914) 273-4485
Come here and save 20 to 25 percent off retail on designs from Osborne & Little, Ralph Lauren, Cole & Sons, Nina Campbell, Zoffany, Cowtan & Fowler and this season’s hot new, must-have wallcovering: grasscloth.

Best Custom Window Treatments
Accent on Interiors
Bedford Hills
(914) 666-8036
Decisions, decisions. Louvers or lace? Shutters or sheers? Accent on Interiors’ experts can help you decide on the best treatment for your windows. They can also custom make and install the whole shebang.

Best Selection of Portuguese Ceramics
Melita’s Home Furnishings
Ossining
(914) 923-0351
Like a quick jaunt to sun-washed Portugal. Expect eye-popping, handmade ceramic pottery plus furniture, tiles and accessories in a kaleidoscope of vibrant Mediterranean colors. Owner Melita Silva and her husband travel twice yearly to their native land to meet with local potters and artisans who create pottery designs.

Best Kitchen Supplies
Chef Central
Harstdale
(914) 328-1376
Here it is, folks: The Be-All and End-All. Whether you’re a culinary pro or a CBW (can’t boil water) novice, this 21,000-square-foot emporium is sure to have what you’re looking for among its 19,000-plus products. Looking for a clam shucker? A shrimp deveiner? How about a steam-free milk frother? No problem. If they don’t have it, it’s probably not made. The best selection of home-use, commercial and restaurant-quality cookware, bakeware, serveware, utensils, appliances, gizmos and gadgets in the area, plus gourmet foods, storage solutions, cooking attire and seasonal items, classes and free demos, a knife-sharpening service and an impressive selection of books.

Best Bath Showroom & Design Center
Davis & Warshow
Mt. Kisco
(914) 666-5127
Call this a showroom? Wrong! Show-Off Room is more accurate. The sinks and faucets here can pass as objects d’art. Why not show off when the vanities look like Chippendale chests, the whirlpool tubs like swimming pools and the showers positively sybaritic? An all-Kohler Premier showroom displays coordinated styles for especially stress-free selection.

Best Source for Mid-Century Modern
Belkind Bigi
Tarrytown
(914) 524-9626
Mid-century modern furniture and decorative arts with a pedigree. Find furniture by such legendary artisans as Charles Eames, George Nelson, Arne Jacobsen (including his famed 1957 egg chair design) and Vladimir Kagan, plus luminous Blenko glass.

Best Tuscan Ceramics
Sun Valley Nursery
Ossining
(914) 762-6161
How can you not adore the handmade and hand-painted Italian ceramics that owner Vincent Bomba’s discerning eye manages to discover on his travels throughout his native land? Interspersed among the plants and lush silk flower arrangements, discover eight different lines of imported Deruta pottery, including the dragon-adorned Raffaellesco ceramics.

Best Fine Stationery
Paper Passions
Mt. Kisco
(914) 242-3700
If you love beautiful stationery, you’ll love Paper Passions. Sleek and sophisticated, inviting and friendly (we love the wooden floors and wooden bookcases, cream-colored granite tables and the comfy upholstered chairs), this 3,000-square-foot upscale emporium of fine papers grew out of its delightful owner Mayma Raphael’s longtime “passion for paper.” The shop carries an extensive assortment of invitations and stationery, including Raphael’s own custom creations, and exquisite handcrafted artisan papers. Or create your own designs in classes offered in their on-site studio.

Best Mexican Giftware
Casa Rustica Bonita
Mt. Kisco
(914) 241-8444
A colorful mélange of crafts, pottery and gifts from Mexico, as well as Brazil, Portugal, Italy and Spain. Owner Ana Civita personally selects all the shop’s merchandise and she always returns from shopping jaunts with armfuls of Talavera pottery and tiles, wrought-iron and pewter crafts and unusually shaped, hand-painted planters. Picture gorgeous, handmade and one-of-a-kind (or, at the least, one-of-a-few).

Best New Gift Gallery
Vles & Company
Bedford
(914) 234-5651
We love that the Vles gals stock their chic little shop with “environmentally conscious” goodies. But what we really love is that we’re not likely to see the same items in our neighbor’s kitchen or bathroom. Shop here and, trust us, you’ll be the first hostess on the block to serve lemonade in glasses recycled from bottles, on vegtable-dyed hemp napkins

Best Upholstery
Fabu Fabrics
Bedford Hills
(914) 244-9041
Dust off that family heirloom wing chair and let Fabu give it a whole new lease on life, reupholstered in premier, D&D-quality fabrics by Lee Jofa, Scalamandre and Kravet, among others. A master Old-World craftsman will lavish it with the love and attention it deserves, carefully deconstructing and then rebuilding it from the frame up. Owner Joshua Katz’s 30 years in the wholesale fabric biz working in the highest-end custom upholstery workrooms has taught him to avoid decorators’ mistakes he witnessed time and again. What he does do: top-quality, custom work, including custom bedding and window treatments, at reasonable prices.

Best Ceramic & Natural Stone Tile
Walker Zanger
Mt. Vernon
(914) 667-1600
Old-World charm meets modern sophistication. A favorite of designers and architects for more than 50 years, Walker Zanger’s artistry graces such highly touted locales as the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas, and, if you’re lucky, your abode.

Best Gift Wrapping
Sundries Gifts & Home Wares
Bedford Hills (914) 244-9020
Westport (203) 226-6544
Packaging does matter and Sundries understands that well, which is why even a little $5 tchotchke gets the royal treatment—it’s all made to look like a million bucks. Best of all, it’s free.

Best Carpet Selection
Cornell Carpet & Design
Mt. Kisco
(914) 241-1227
Though these guys stock just about everything, this is not the place to come for “rolls and remnants.” They specialize in high-end carpeting from makers like Saxony, Schumacher and Glen Eden, and made-to-order carpets and broadlooms. Hard to please? Not to worry—if you can imagine it, they most likely can make it.

Best Artisan Gifts
Offerings
Katonah
(914) 232-9643
What a wonderfully funky gallery. What great offbeat treasures! Love the handcrafted
jewelry and the wild, hand-painted furniture and whimsical American crafts.

Best Rug Source
Rug & Home Gallery
Thornwood
(914) 741-2486
Rest assured, owner Antoinette Lombardi’s nickname, “the Rug Lady,” is well-earned. Her authentic Oriental rugs from China, India and Pakistan, elegant handmade Aubusson and needlepoints and Nourison rugs are just perfect for lounging on in front of the family-room Plasma TV.

Best Contemporary Home Accessories
SoHo East
Dobbs Ferry
(914) 693-7296
We dare you to walk out of SoHo East empty-handed. Stacy Higgins’ darling shop is a study in contrasts, a global mix of contemporary and primitive, bright and subtle, geometrical and free-form. The common denominator? Streamlined, clean design, from sleek graphite trivets to Japanese-inspired tableware to Zulu woven baskets.

Best Art Gallery
Cirque d’Art
Bedford Hills
(914) 241-3571
More than 20 artists from around the globe exhibit their work in this understated gallery. Browse its rotating exhibitions of strictly handmade art, including ceramics and sculpture, Murano glass, Turkish porcelain, Mexican ceramics and exotic rugs.

Best Antiques Dealer
Golden Oldies
Mt. Kisco
(914) 244-4466
No need to cross the pond. Golden Oldies imports antiques from England, France, India, Belgium, Holland and China to its 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Flushing for refinishing and restoration, then sends them off to one of its five retail locations. Looking for something elegant to house the bulky electronic boy toys cluttering up your media room? The shop can convert an armoire into a TV cabinet.

Best Home Accessories
Bridges
Larchmont
(914) 833-1717
Owners Sara and Richard Abramson’s backgrounds in interior design are evident in the fine-quality traditional home accessories and accent furniture, like the beautifully handmade Maitland Smith furnishings and intricate Sid Dickens tiles that make their shop such a delight. Their extensive collection of Sweet Dream pillows is yet more reason we love this store.

Best Artsy Gifts
Animazing Gallery
Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-7278
Head over to Animazing for funky glass vases, multi-colored martini glasses, edgy metalware and unique hand-crafted jewelry, plus lots of fun animation art at this gallery owned by husband-and-wife animation fanatics Nick Leone (an avid collector of Warner Brothers) and Heidi Leigh (a former marketing consultant at Disney). Tune in for original production cels of Spongebob Squarepants and the family Simpson.

Continue reading for our Health & Beauty section and the rest of the Best of Westchester 2004

 

Health & Beauty

Best New Personal Care Boutique
Pink on Palmer
Larchmont
(914) 833-8995
You are certain to feel pretty in Pink, a funky new shop for all those feel-good, smell-good and look-good necessities: cosmetics, fragrances, hair and body care products by Darphin, Frederic Fekkai, Mario Badescu, DDF, T. LeClerc and Sue Devitt.

Best Eyebrow Artist
Kitty at Premier Atelier
White Plains
(914) 328-5100
Red-carpet celebs and those who make a living looking glam swear by their personal eyebrow artists. On the lookout for someone to work magic on your own brows? They’ll be in good hands with Kitty. The result is like a mini-facelift for just $25.

Best Brazilian Bikini Waxing
Shine Salon
Ossining
(914) 762-6675
Aye carumba! When a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do to look sensational poolside, a woman is advised to go to Shine. The staff, headed by owner Lorraine Guzman, is so gentle and so caring that they put you blessedly at ease. For being so courageous, afterwards, treat yourself to one of Shine’s special organic masks (the herbs and paprika mask leave skin feeling silky smooth; $145 for 90 blissful minutes).

Best Make-up Counters
Bloomingdale’s
White Plains
(914) 684-6300
Not ready to take the Botox plunge? Treat yourself instead to a mini-makeover here and, dahling, you’ll look simply mahvelous. Fill a little brown bag with the latest goodies from the Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme, MAC and Prescriptives counters.

Best Men’s Hair Colorist
Demirjian Hair Salon
White Plains
(914) 686-0204
Head here for a gorgeous does-he-or-doesn’t-he color. It’ll be our little secret.

Best Aerobic Fusion
Core Fusion at Newdance
Rye Brook
(914) 690-9300
First it was fusion food, now it’s fusion workouts. Instructor (drill sergeant?) Lisa Martin incorporates power yoga (downward facing dog times three), Pilates (roll overs, anyone?) and ballet bar butt, abs and pecs torture. It’s a killer, but it works.

Best Beauty Boutique
Blush
Rye
(914) 921-2980
There’s absolutely nothing to blush about when shopping at this darling beauty shop—unless, of course, looking and feeling better than everyone else embarrasses you.

Best Energizing Activity
Kazi Oliver’s Wednesday Night African
Drumming Class
Peekskill
(914) 737-0515
Get out your djembes, djun djuns and mbung mbungs and beat to the tune of a different drummer—a refreshing new way to get your ya-yas out while simultaneously making some amazing music.

Best Waxing
Elizabeth Arden
Red Door Salon & Spa
The Westchester, White Plains (914) 840-8880
De-fuzz your face and areas that will remain nameless without the “ouch” factor.

Continue reading for our Kids section and the rest of The Best of Westchester 2004

 

Kids

Best Source for Bunk Stuff
Penny Auntie 5 & 10
Chappaqua
(914) 238-3242
For its service to all moms and dads who partake in that summer letting-go ritual of sending excited (or terrified) kids off to sleep-away camp, Penny Auntie deserves a medal of sorts. Not only does this store stock the latest kid and teen must-have items for camp like giant Pez dispensers, light-up Frisbees and travel toys that can be personalized with a recorded message (“don’t forget to brush your teeth, honey”), but Penny Auntie packs it up and sends it off to give homesick campers a welcome little dose of home.

Best New Teen Clothing Boutique
New York Dolls
Mt. Kisco
(914) 244-3655
No Peter Pan collars or preppy looks here—just must-have, hot new fashions for teens from T-shirts to prom dresses. Favored by young fashionistas who love browsing through racks of the hippest designs by Betsey Johnson, ABS, Nanette Lepore, Sweat Pea, Chan Luu, Octave Designs and Barking Irons.

Best Children’s Clothes
Stickyfingers
Katonah
(914) 232-8078
The baby clothes are so cute here they may make you want to have a baby—just to play dress-up. Darling outfits by Charlie Rocket, Petit Bateau and K.C. Parker, plus adorable tutus and wand-and-wing dress-up sets and Skivvy Doodles jammies.

Best Hand-Painted Furnishings & Accessories
Tra La La
Irvington
(914) 591-5312
This charming little shop’s supply of infant’s and children’s furniture, bedding and personalized accessories is so adorable, it makes us glad we have kids—ours,
our relatives’, our neighbors’—
to indulge.

Best Teen Girl Shop
Out of the Blue Clothing, Inc.
Mt. Kisco
(914) 244-1792
The store for hip juniors and their hip (but not hippy) moms to stock up on Juicy Couture and So Low sweats. Super selection of bathing suits, too.

Best Rainy Day Kid Destination
New Roc City
New Rochelle
(914) 637-7575
The best place to chill those “Mom, I’m bored,” whiny laments when the skies are gray and the telley just won’t do. Actually, come to think of it, laser tag, arcade games, ice
skating, bumper car racing, IMAX and glow-in-the-dark bowling entertains—and entertains well—any time of year, under any color sky.

Best Quality Toys
Wondrous Things
Croton-on-Hudson
(914) 271-3044
The best antidote to Toys ’R Us. Nuff said.

Continue reading for our People & Places section

 

People & Places

Services

Best Carpet Cleaner
USA Carpet Cleaning, Inc.
Buchanan and Cortlandt Manor (914) 788-1824
Veritable wizards of stain removal, they’ll get out Spot’s spots from your Oriental rug or the kids’ ground-up PB&J remains from the off-white (what were you thinking?) wall-to-wall carpeting.

Best Dog Grooming
Shampooch
Mamaroneck
(914) 698-2468
Shouldn’t Fifi look as fab as you do? Tame the tangles and get your doggie a new ’do with Shampooch’s artistic combing and clipping. And, if your dog hates nail trimming and teeth brushing as much as mine, relax. The patient techs tackle these tasks with aplomb.

Best Laundry/Dry Cleaning Service
Happiness Laundry and Dry Cleaners
Mamaroneck
(914) 698-6000
The next best thing to hand-washing and hanging your precious linens, ultra-soft cottons, even delicate lace out to dry. Come to think of it, Happiness Laundry is the best laundry thing. Not only does it save you all that tedious work, it picks up and delivers everything immaculately washed, crisply ironed, wrapped in tissue and packed in a simple white box tied with string. Like the present it is.

Best Event Planner
Virginia Vetrano,
Preferred Events, Inc.
White Plains
(914) 946-7123
On the big day, you need someone who can take care of the broken buttons and misplaced bouquets. Leave it to Virginia—she’s a pro.

Best Dog Trainer
Westchester K9
White Plains
(914) 393-1255
Did that adorable pooch on his best behavior turn into Cujo when he moved into your house and heart? Has he ripped up your rug or chomped on your Jimmy Choos? You need more than an obedience class; you need K9. You—and your terrified houseguests—will thank us.

Best Shoe Repair
Vaccaro’s Shoe Repair
Scarsdale
(914) 723-1308; (914) 723-9628
Like chicken soup for your soles. This family-run shoe repair shop has been nursing back the snapped-off stilettos and busted boots of its fiercely loyal, well-heeled customers since 1929. And, like shoes, it comes in pairs, with two Scarsdale locations (11 Boniface Circle and 301 Heathcote Road).

Destinations

Best New Movie Theater
City Center 15: Cinema de Lux
White Plains
(914) 747-6000
With live jazz piano music wafting through the lobby, an in-house restaurant and bar and the absence of kiddie crowd-pleasers (e.g., shoot-’em-up arcade games), this positively elegant, upscale theater caters to the sophis-ticated and discerning movie-
goer (that is, you and me). Added bonus: plenty of legroom for stretching out (or going to sleep) during those three-hour prestige flicks.

Best Mall
The Westchester
White Plains
(914) 683-8600
The crème de la crème of luxury malls. Plus, it’s home to our two favorite words: Neiman Marcus.

Best Scenic Parkway
The Hutchinson River Parkway
Some of the most spectacular drive-by views in the county can unfold right outside the window of your SUV as you motor through the Parkway and underneath its charming old-fashioned stone arches. Between pastel-
colored spring blossoms and the enchanting fall foliage, there’s lots to look at to take your mind off the fact that the SUV hasn’t moved in the last ten minutes. With the right attitude, enjoy the natural beauty all around.

Best Reading Spot
Japanese Garden at the Scarsdale Public Library
Scarsdale
(914) 722-1300
A soothing slice of suburban Nirvana. Feeling frazzled? Drop the kids off at the children’s room, turn off the cell, and settle onto a wooden bench (or in the traditional pagoda) with a good, thick read. Or just gaze out over the pond for a little Zen-like contemplation of one of the most serene settings around.

Best Place to Exercise
Bronx River Parkway Bike and Skate Sundays
Yonkers to White Plains
(914) 864-7275
It’s hard to appreciate the Bronx River Parkway when you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. And, unless you call cursing aerobic, it’s hard to work off calories behind the wheel. But every Sunday in May, June and September (except on holidays), the Parkway is off-limits to traffic between Yonkers and White Plains. Grab your bike, blades, skates and/or sneaks and hit the Parkway. You—and your doctor—will thank us.

Best New Private Golf Course
Trump National Golf Club
Briarcliff Manor
(914) 941-0965
Though a notoriously low handicapper, who knows how Trump himself fares on his 7,300-yard, par-72 course? And, while many golf addicts curse this course’s numerous water hazards (on more than half the holes), the sight of the $7-million, 101-foot waterfall green on the 13th hole is worth losing a few balls to.

Best Cinema
Jacob Burns Film Center
Pleasantville
(914) 747-5555
Spot celebs and rub elbows with industry insiders at this favored destination for fine film fans. Go for the elite indie movies and stay for the thought-provoking Q&A sessions with former New York Times film critic Janet Maslin and others.

Best Walk in the Woods
Mianus River Gorge Preserve
Bedford
(914) 234-3455
A natural time capsule: This old-growth forest looks exactly as it did back in the ’50s. The 2.5-mile trails are lined with ancient hemlock trees, a flowing river and over 873 species of wildlife, and are suitable for hiking with the kids. Catch a glimpse of it while you can—the gorge is closed from December 1 to March 31 so the trails can rest.

Best Revitalized Performing Arts Venue
Paramount Center
For the Arts
Peekskill
(914) 739-2333
Sink into a cushy red velvet seat and transport yourself to the era of movie starlets and powerful old Hollywood studios. While the Paramount hosts modern-day favorites like Arlo Guthrie concerts and jazz performances, it still positively sparkles with the splendor of a 1930s movie palace. Check out its Web site (www.
paramountcenter.org) for upcoming performances.

Best Place for Singles
Coughlan’s American Bistro
White Plains
(914) 285-0900
Looking for a local love? Thursday through Saturday nights, this eatery transforms into a chic hotspot, drawing out the county’s sexy singles for mixing and mingling. A live DJ playing favorite tunes also helps break the ice. Bring a buddy (or not), order up an apple martini at the bar, and search for a soul mate.

Best Horseback Riding Trail
Old Croton
Aqueduct Trailway
Happy trails to you. The scenic views along the serene Croton River are just plain better when viewed from up on horseback—you can get a better look at those historic Westchester houses on sprawling, green estates. Even city and suburban slickers can have a galloping good time.

Best Romantic Park
Larchmont Manor Park & Beach
Larchmont
With its rocky shoreline, view of the Sound and darling gazebos, only those with hearts of stone couldn’t fall in love here.

Best New Performing Arts Venue
White Plains Performing Arts Center
White Plains
(888) 977-2250
If your idea of a cultural outing doesn’t involve a mall, discover this intimate new performing space for professional dramas, musicals and other performances. But with only 417 seats, tickets go fast—so snap them up quickly!

Best Picnic Spot
New Croton Dam
Croton-on-Hudson
It’s not Niagra Falls, but it’s pretty dam close. Spread the blanket, unpack the basket and bask in the splendor of one of the county’s most spectacular views. No need to bring the iPod—the thunderous cascade of water from the 180-foot-high spillway is music to any nature lover’s ears.

Best Fundraising Gala
Westchester Arts Council
White Plains
(914) 428-4220, ext. 243
Is it any wonder WAC knows how to throw a party? If nothing else, artists are creative beings, so an organization dedicated to helping artists create must also be creative. One year, WAC held its gala at a bus terminal; another in an airport hangar; most recently in raw office space—each event surpassed the last, raising record amounts to support the arts throughout the county. Creative—and effective.

Personalities

Best Radio Host
John LaBarca, Syndicated “Italian House Party” Show
WFAS-AM 1230
We can’t think of a better way to spend Sunday mornings than with John LaBarca as he spins top tunes from favorite crooners, offers up authentic recipes and shares memories of life growing up in a traditional Italian family.

Most Powerful Part-Time Resident
Donald Trump
Bedford
When he’s not playing golf, playing himself on TV or touting himself on talk shows, Donald Trump plays at being a neighbor in Bedford.

Best Poet
Former U.S. Poet Laureate and current New York State Poet Laureate Billy Collins
Somers
When the nation appoints you its top poet, who are we to argue? Besides, we’ve read his poems. Wow!

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