Amore! The coupling of good food and wine with the sensual is the aphrodisiac of literature and verse through the ages. Pucker up! Valentine’s Day is Thursday, Feb. 14th. Warm things up a bit, make a whole weekend out of it! Restaurants and nightspots along the Sound Shore are gearing up to serve some of their most titillating specialties. Here is an eclectic round-up of delectable dishes and dining venues for you and your loved one and don’t forget to reserve early…
ROMEO & JULIET AT MAGNO’S GRILL, NEW ROCHELLE!
It’s a special Surf & Turf for Valentine’s: Filet Mignon w portobello, Port wine sauce & Lobster Tail stuffed with crabmeat, shrimp, scallops in scampi sauce. This talented group also serves Jurassic Tomahawk Steaks, and a fine version of Parrillada, hearty mixed grill with chimichurri sauce. Chef/owner Angelo Magno had put his talents to work at such lauded kitchens at Tango Grill, Milonga and Gaucho Grill. He has joined forces with his family at his own 60-seat spot featuring fine versions of Italian and Argentinean classics. Look for such house specialties as: fresh Empanadas, Chicken or Veal Parmigiana, hearty Paella, and hefty Pork Osso Buco. Cocktail bar. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Municipal parking nearby. Reservations accepted. Magno’s Grill, 108 Centre Ave., New Rochelle. 914-235-0008 www.magnosgrill.com
LOVE THE GALLIC WAY AT LA PANETIERE, RYE!
Pull up to La Panetiere in Rye and enter the beautifully appointed dining rooms and proprietor Jacques Loupiac’s long-running bastion of French cuisine will create an unforgettable experience. The professional staff led by Stephane, the genial maître d’ and Chef Dean Lupiac will fill you with passion. Each course is artfully plated. The Dover Sole and Grand Marnier Souffle are wonderful. Fine wines, too. It’s the best way to visit Paris without leaving Westchester. La Panetiere is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch Monday evening thru Sunday. Special menus. Private party facilities. Catering. Bar/lounge. Take out. Major credit cards. Ample parking. Reservations advised. La Panetiere, 530 Milton Road, Rye. 914-967-8140 www.lapanetiere.com
PORTERHOUSE FOR 2 AT HURLEY’S STEAKHOUSE, NEW ROCHELLE!
Seasoned restaurateur Paul Hurley has opened a handsome 90-seat gastro-pub next to the Avalon complex offering such amenities as a cozy fireplace, dark wood & brick walls, separate bar/lounge and full-service dining room featuring such specialties as a seafood Raw Bar, Porterhouse Steak for two, Colorado Rack of Lamb, Prime Beef Short Ribs, and a loaded 10 oz. ‘Queen of the Sound’ prime beef Burger stacked with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, fried oysters, sautéed mushrooms, smoked bacon on a brioche bun. Daily happy hours from 4 to 7 p.m. feature $1 oysters. Open daily for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Municipal & valet parking. Hurley’s Steakhouse, 15 Division St., New Rochelle. 914-738-6000 www.hurleyssteakhouse.com
SHARE A COMBO PLATTER AT ARTIE’S, CITY ISLAND!
Owner Spiro Chagares and his staff offer patrons an inspired melding of traditional and contemporary dishes served with flair. Sit back in one of several dining areas and enjoy such changing specialties as: hearty Seafood Chowders; Smoked Salmon Roll-Ups; Wood Grilled Jumbo Shrimp and Scallops; hunks of tender Short Rib; a massive Zuppa Di Pesce; tender Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb; Chardonnay Poached Salmon with seafood; and fresh Lobster prepared in a variety of styles. Big combo platters. There’s a loaded Lobster Salad Roll at lunch and their Mediterranean style Pizzas are good to share, too. Check out the bar/lounge most evenings for good networking. Craft beers. Private party facilities. Off premise catering. Open 7 days. Free parking. Artie’s Steak & Seafood, 394 City Island Ave., Bronx. 718-885-9885 www.artiescityisland.com
COCKTAILS & A VIEW AT LA PICCOLA CASA, MAMARONECK!
Thru the years he worked many popular kitchens in greater Westchester including the former Umberto’s in Rye and Giorgio’s in Port Chester which he ran for 10 years. The restaurant is housed in the landmark DeLancey House where author James Fenimore Cooper lived for a time across from scenic Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck, along Boston Post Road. Walter will be serving his new updated menu featuring many of his well-known specialties: Italian classics with concentration on the finest ingredients. There’s terrific Baked Clams, Seafood Pasta, and Rack of Lamb. Pastas are terrific, especially with seafood. Walter does his own shopping daily. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. Free street parking. Reservations accepted. La Piccola Casa, 410 W. Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck. Phone: 914-777-3766.
PIZZA & VINO BAR AT MAMMA FRANCESCA, NEW ROCHELLE!
A new flashy red-tiled woodburning pizza oven has been installed at Mamma Francesca in New Rochelle. There is a whole new renovated pizza station for it, too, with serving counter at the bar/lounge. Mamma Francesca had built one of Westchester’s original woodburning brick oven pizza ovens years ago. When Nick DiCostanzo was growing up on the Island of Ischia on the Coast of Naples in Italy, his earliest memories where of the simple seaside meals he would enjoy with his family, farm-to-table and of course sea-to-table. Located on the banks of Long Island Sound with 6-story views of the ‘Queen City’s’ seafaring boat clubs, this culinary philosophy still holds true, albeit with a sprinkling of contemporary taste. Daily Happy Hours. Free parking. Mamma Francesca, 414 Pelham Road, New Rochelle. 914-636-1229 www.mammafrancesca.com
EXOTIC INDIAN FLAVORS AT AMBADI, WHITE PLAINS!
Owner Mohammed Alam of Ambadi Kebab & Grill in White Plains will be serving his popular luncheon buffet and dinner. The all you can eat Indian buffet will be served from 11:30 am to 3 pm, more than a dozen selections from salad, main courses to desserts with all the trimmings. Dinner will be a la carte and begin at 5 pm. Look for such specialties as: Lasuni Gobi, cauliflower florets tossed with bell peppers, onion, garlic and green herbs; Chicken Barbacue Kabab, marinated boneless chicken cooked in the tandoor oven; and Lamb Bhuna, pieces of lamb cooked in a medium spiced sauce of bell peppers, tomatoes and fresh Indian herbs. A glass of lassi will help wash it all down. Don’t forget delicious house made Indian breads to scoop up the sauces. Alam opened Ambadi Kebab & Grill in White Plains this past year. Open 7 days. Mughal Palace, 16 Broadway, Valhalla. 914-997-6090 www.mughalpalace.com Ambadi, 141 E. Post Road, White Plains. 914-686-2014 www.ambadiusa.com
TEASING TACOS & TAPAS AT DON JITO, MAMARONECK!
This popular new spot in Mamaroneck serves a tempting fusion of Mediterranean and Latin cuisines with pizzazz. Tacos & Tapas, they like to say. Dark woods, brick and brown textured leather are reminiscent of a Spanish wine cellar. Let Sue Vitiello and the staff help you thru such house specialties as: Chorizo Flatbread, Donjito Wings, Pulpo a la Plancha; Tacos with a variety of fillings, short rib barbacoa is a favorite; Paella Barcelona; Chicken Enchiladas; or marinated Skirt Steak. There are house made Churros and Tres Leches Cake for dessert. Open daily for lunch and dinner and Sunday brunch. Inviting bar area. Don Jito, 122 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck. Phone: 914-902-5486. The same group has a sister restaurant in Scarsdale called: Popojito. www.donjito.com
WINE INDULGENCES AT ERNIE’S WINE BAR, BRONXVILLE!
Out of this tiny kitchen come laudatory renditions of American/Global dishes bursting with flavor. Oenophiles, take note. The carefully selected wines served here, many from small-batch independent producers, can be heavenly. It is a wonderful place to unwind, take in some music on special nights, and indulge. The small bar is great for networking, too. Recent food tastings here have included Luisanna’s amazing meatballs, cheese & charcuterie platter, Duck Wontons, Duck Confit, a wonderful Fettuccine Carbonara; Mushroom & Pea Risotto, and Baked Cod with Vierge Sauce. There is live entertainment. Check ahead for updates. Open Monday thru Saturday for happy hour and dinner. Ernie’s, 7 Pondfield Road, Bronxville. 914-652-7859 www.ernieswinebar.com
ARTSY SWOONING AT LE SIRENE, LARCHMONT!
Recent tastings of Octopus Carpaccio, Ai Tre Formaggi Pizza, house made stuffed Stromboli, and comforting Soft Polenta with sweet bay scallops, made my palate swoon. Fratelli Bruno are veteran restaurateurs who also own such venerable dining rooms as San Pietro, Caravaggio and Sistina in Manhattan. They know how to cook with finesse the authentic Italian way: “Let natural food flavors express themselves,” is their culinary philosophy. Owner Cosimo Bruno is general manager and host, but also shares kitchen duties with talented Executive Chef Alberto Pepe. Let their signature flavors guide you into the artsy dining room. The bar/lounge is a good spot for cocktails and a snack. The Brunos know their wines. Cosimo is a Certified Sommelier. The ‘pizzaioli’ is at his wood fired pizza oven at the end of the bar ready to prepare over a dozen of his tasty individually styled pies. Le Sirene, 1957 Palmer Ave., Larchmont. 914-834-8300 www.lesireneristorante.com
SHARE PASTRY & CUP OF JOE AT NUTMEG, TUCKAHOE!
Bring some fresh delights home to share. Proprietor and creative force behind Nutmeg is Cindy Bothwell. The Café is warm and inviting. There is seating for up to 25, soft background music, exposed brick walls and display cases filled to the brim with the tempting daily larder. Bothwell calls her way of cooking and baking: “American home-style rustic” and insists on keeping up with the seasons. Delightful beverages include such exclusive artisanal makers as Joe’s Coffee out of Brooklyn. Custom Cold Brew coffees, teas and smoothies on-site. Fresh made soups, salads and sandwiches have been added to Nutmeg’s menu and posted daily on the blackboard. Enjoy delectable cheddar scallion scones; caramelized onion & gruyere crostada; and cauliflower, leek & Asiago quiche. Nutmeg Café, 64 Main Street, Tuckahoe. 914-779-1328 www.thenutmegcafe.com
PARISIENNE-STYLE AT ENCORE BISTRO, LARCHMONT!
One of my favorite French eateries is bustling Encore Bistro in Larchmont where proprietor David Masliah and his team offer such hearty bistro favorites as: delicious Tartin de Tomates, Moules Provencales, a fabulous Salade Parisienne, along with St. Jacques au buerre blance and Steak Frites as a main course. (It’s hard to stay away from their rendition sweetbreads!) Plates du Jour, too. Great French fries here, the real thing! For dessert there are classic versions of Tarte Tatin and Profiteroles. Great deal: there is a 3-course lunch for $17.50 served Monday thru Saturday. Open 7 days for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Cozy bar. Happy Hours: 5 to 7 pm weekdays. Encore, 22 Chatsworth Ave., Larchmont. 914-833-1661 www.encore-bistro.com
(Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: email@example.com)