Thursday, December 27, 2012


By Morris Gut
BRONX, NEW YORK, December 27- Ready or not, here it comes! 2013 is upon us, so whether you’ve been naughty or nice its time to make plans with friends and family. If you are planning to go out, here are some dining suggestions for every palate, each offering a good dose of New Year’s cheer…
It is over-the-top during the holidays and it begins with the bright lights and smell of chestnuts roasting at the entranceway. Take home a bag of them. The annual Christmas Holiday Fest at Mulino’s, White Plains, lasts right thru the season and it’s a sight to behold! The fountain garden is beautiful as is the lavish dining room and bar/ lounge. General Manager Gimmy Cavagna and his staff are keeping the premises spiffy as ever: gesticulating Christmas decorations galore, holiday carolers, life size toy soldiers, the bursting colorful floral displays, the sparkling grappa and glassware collection, the handsome multilevel seating area. The Cold Seafood Platter is a wonder and fine to share as is their decadent version of Linguine Carbonara; plump tender Rack of Lamb served on the long bone; delicate Dover Sole finished off in the dining room; and perhaps for dessert have the wait staff whip up warm Zabaglione with fresh ripe berries tableside. And, oh that smooth Italian cheesecake. Open 7 days thru the Holiday Fest. Bring the whole family. The place sparkles! Valet parking. Reservations advised. Mulino’s of Westchester, 99 Court Street, White Plains 914-761-1818
Lou and Rose Promuto have re-opened The Marina Grille Waterfront Restaurant & Bar located at Wright Island Marina in New Rochelle surrounded by boat clubs and L.I. Sound. It had formerly been The Sea Breeze. The Promutos also own Valentino’s Cucina Italiana and Sunset Grille both in Norwalk, CT. Chef is seasoned Sergio Dechiara, a graduate of the New York Restaurant School, who is not bound by culinary borders. His menu offers such comforting dishes as: New England Clam Chowder; Artichoke Crab Dip; Coconut Shrimp; a massive Paella Valenciana, served with mixed seafood with chorizo-chicken rice; Buttermilk Fried Chicken served with broccoli, mashed potatoes and brown gravy; Porterhouse for two; and an occasional tender hunk of Short Rib on the bone with all its delicious juices. Complete Dinners served Monday thru Thursday: $18.95. Daily happy hours in the bar/lounge. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday thru Sunday. Ample free parking. The Marina Grille, 290 Drake Ave., New Rochelle. 914-365-1860.
Proprietor Michael Vivolo and his wife Margaret of La Riserva, 2382 Boston Post Road, Larchmont (914-834-5584), have been serving ‘the Italian classics’ here for 34 years and the refreshing atmosphere and friendly ambiance keep it a treat. Be seated in the lovely refurbished dining room, now part vintage photo gallery, and let veteran manager Ellie Cucino suggest such specialties as: flavorful Polenta al Gorgonzola with shrimp; Angel Hair Abissi Marini, thin egg noodles in a light cream sauce with shrimp and mushrooms; Veal Chop alla Griglia, with mushrooms and roasted potatoes; or the Branzino Mediterraneo. Michael’s son Dean operates Trattoria Vivolo in Harrison. Private party facilities. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner. Free parking.
Chef Anna Catalano of Agostino’s, 336 Pelham Road, New Rochelle (914-235-6019), prepares everything in her regional Italian kitchen from scratch: her sauces, the pastas, right down to the fresh cannoli shells and desserts. Be seated and let Anna, her husband Antonio and brother Gasperino Di Fabio serve you such home style favorites as: Portobello e Polenta alla Griglia con Gorgonzola; Spaghetti alla Chitarra alla Pescarese con Frutti di Mare,  seafood in a light marinara sauce; homemade Ravioli di Aragosta in Salsa Rosa, with lobster in a light cream sauce with touch of tomato; classic Zuppa di Pesce all Mamma Lucia, with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari, scallops, octopus and fish of the day with linguini; Pollo alla Scarpariello prepared here on the bone sautéed with garlic in a white wine sauce; or Involtini di Anna alla Fantasia, stuffed with provolone and shitake mushrooms. And, oh those wonderful cannolis! Fresh pasta for take home by advanced order. Cozy bar/cocktails. Open 7 days a week. Free parking. Valet evenings.
Owner Dominic Cesarini of The Quarry, 106 Main Street, Tuckahoe (914-337-0311), has settled into new larger quarters in downtown Tuckahoe, a handsomely renovated bi-level 70-seat dining room and bustling bar/lounge that is always engaged in spirited networking. There are artsy exposed pipes and vents on the ceiling. A lovely area rug and acoustics temper the noise level. Handsome brown wood and clay tone walls, warm lighting fixtures and modern sturdy dark brown butcher block type chairs and tables highlight the floor with large picture windows with seating spilling out onto Main. The staff here is most friendly, efficient and eager to please. Cesarini, a ‘local grill man’ himself whose family owned and operated several cafes and grills in the Bronx-Tuckahoe-Eastchester area, has kicked it up a notch with a good mix of reasonably priced American tavern comfort fare with a good dose of broccoli rabe to go around. Good salads, burgers, Prime Rib and Short Ribs on weekends. Open 7 days.
Here’s a big guy who likes to cook big! Chef/proprietor Paul Caputo of Chianti, 174 Marbledale Road, Tuckahoe (914-346-8844), opened a bustling ode to Italian-American cuisine served in generous style. He previously operated Gina Marie’s Bella Vita in Mt. Vernon and the former Bella Vita in Mahopac. Over the years he has worked for a storied cast of kitchens from Rigoletto’s and Amici’s on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx to the original Valentino’s in Yonkers to the former Gregory’s in White Plains. Over on one wall in the dining room is inscribed: “chi mangia bene, viva bene” (if you eat well, you live well), and that’s the overriding philosophy here. Chef Caputo has a history of serving big portions of fresh made-to-order food; ‘family style’ some call it. Check out such specialties as: Spiedini ala Romana; his amazing Garlic Bread Paoliccimo with chopped broccoli rabe; Zuppa Di Pesce over Capellini; Steak Compagniola; or giant Veal Chop De Benedictis. Don’t worry; there are always plenty of doggie bags on hand for take home. Complete lunch and dinners available daily. On and off-premise catering.
(Morris Gut, restaurant consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor, has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in the Bronx and Westchester area for over 25 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591.
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