By Morris Gut
After a false start last spring, the fall edition of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is taking place now through Nov. 22.
It is being touted as “the sequel,” which is an appropriate tag for this popular dining out promotion sponsored in spring and fall by The Valley Table Magazine (now owned by Westchester Magazine). Part two includes scores of past participants and some new ones from throughout the Hudson Valley even stretching the borders into Fairfield County, Conn., Scarsdale, White Plains, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle as patrons are anxious to cash in on the seasonal bounty at reasonable prices.
Prices have risen a bit this time around. Restaurants are expected to offer three-course luncheons for $25.95, and three-course dinners for $35.95. There are also take-out options. Please remember that beverages, tax and tip are not included in the bill. Sometimes there are caveats, so be sure to verify the hours and the menus that are being served. Reservations are advised.
For additional information and an up-to-date list of participating restaurants, visit www.valleytable.com/hvrw.
Tasty Spanish Tapas at La Camelia
Prior to the start of the pandemic, which seems so long ago, I had met a friend for lunch in the pub room at La Camelia in Mount Kisco, one of the few restaurants in the area to serve cuisine from Spain and Portugal. I had not been there for quite some time, not since founder Antonio Alvarez sold it to Victor and Serafina Varela several years ago. It sits on a quiet hilltop, and I recall the surrounding gardens always added great charm to the setting.
The tapas selection at La Camelia is the default lunch menu, unless you want to order from the dinner menu, which offers many choices. My guest, who was of Spanish background, led the way by ordering Amejas Rellenas (baked little neck clams); Empanadillas Gallegas (veal meat turnovers with mixed greens); and a dramatic plate of Camarao de Mocambique (giant grilled tiger prawns). Each plate was well-flavored and served with an appropriate dipping sauce.
We found ourselves double-dipping into the leftover little neck clam sauce. There was good crunchy bread on the side. A fine Rioja red wine was a perfect complement to our light meal. Thanks to the house for recommending the bottle. It was nice to be back.
La Camelia is located at 234 N. Bedford Rd. in Mount Kisco. Open daily 12 to 9:30 p.m. Take-out and delivery. Free parking. Info: 914-666-2466 or visit www.lacameliarestaurant.net.
Casual and Fancy at Pizza Cucina
Proprietor Charlie Gambino and his crew are producing some tasty pizzas at Pizza Cucina. And now, fine dining specials have made their way to the menu, too, recalling many of the signature dishes from the former Ernesto’s that had operated down the street for many years.
Patrons can sit down to a hot sandwich, steam table meal or house-made pappardelle pasta with a lovely lamb ragu. Either way, you will be served professionally. In keeping with COVID-19 protocols, the house recently installed air filtration systems.
Pizza Cucina is a playful redesigned space with a jazzy red logo offering fresh Neapolitan pizza varieties, focaccia, garlic rolls, calzones, finger foods, soups, entrée size salads and overstuffed paninis and wedges. Juicy eight-ounce specialty beef and turkey burgers are available. You can also order pasta, entrees and desserts, all from the open kitchen.
There is a multiflavored antipasti platter, sturdy and delicious house-made lasagna, osso buco the size of Mount Vesuvius, a hearty veal chop, parmigiana Risotto con Verdure and Gamberi, and the list goes on.
Pizza runs the gamut from the classic Margherita to Nonna’s, a square thin crust pizza with house-made tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil. The Formaggi White Pizza includes mozzarella, parmigiana and ricotta, while the decadent chicken bacon ranch is topped with chicken cutlet, crispy bacon and ranch dressing.
Meat lovers will enjoy the meatball, sausage, bacon and pepperoni pizza, while the whole wheat primavera includes grilled eggplant, zucchini and peppers over pesto. Or you can create your own.
Pizza Cucina is located at 102 W. Post Rd. in White Plains, across from the Boulevard White Plains development. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Small bar and beverages. Take-out, delivery and catering. Major credit cards accepted. Casual dress. Handicapped accessible. Free and municipal parking. Info: 914-752-4611 or visit www.pizzacucinawp.com.
Dining With UV Lighting at La Piccola Casa
With cooler weather coming our way, more diners will be moving indoors and restaurants are doing their best to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols. Pulling up to La Piccola Casa on Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck, the first thing you notice are the new signs placed on the historic James Fenimore Cooper House: “Now Featuring HEPA Air Filtration and UV Lighting For Your Indoor Dining Safety.” A sign of the new normal in the restaurant business.
Went inside for a glass of wine and an order of their delicious clams oreganata. Walter Ricci, the amiable chef and proprietor, proudly pointed out his protocols and showed me the UV lighting boxes hanging in the front and rear dining rooms. When in operation, the lights emitted are invisible to the naked eye but dilute the virus from the air. I had never seen them in use at a restaurant.
By the way, Ricci was freshening up the premises with a new coat of paint. He is currently offering a fall-winter promotion: buy one entrée, get the second entrée at half-price Monday through Wednesday for lunch and dinner.
Sounds good to me. Ricci’s Italian-American cooking is quite good. I enjoy sitting in the bar room with its view of Harbor Island Park across Route 1.
La Piccola Casa is located at 410 W. Boston Post Rd. in Mamaroneck. Open seven days for lunch and dinner. Take-out and delivery. Free parking. Info: 914-777-3766 or visit www.lapiccolacasarestaurant.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 or firstname.lastname@example.org.