Ready or not, here it comes. 2014 is upon us, so whether you’ve been naughty or nice it’s 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 Holiday cheer.
Mulino’s Holiday Celebration.
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 through 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 multi-level 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 seven days through 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 www.mulinosny.com
Holidays Croatian Style
For years Jerry Tomic, a native of Croatia, dreamed of bringing a true taste of home to Westchester. The flavorfully melded historic cuisines of Croatia served in a refined atmosphere. He premiered Dubrovnik, 721 Main Street, New Rochelle (914-637-3777) this past summer and it became a hit: Westchester’s first restaurant devoted to Croatia, a multi-level 85-seat establishment with seasonal outdoor patio, state of the art temperature controlled wine cellar, al fresco rotisserie BBQ, lush seasonal herb garden and bar/lounge. Talented chefs man the kitchen and they will transport you to the beautiful Adriatic in flavorful style. Jerry Tomic and his wife ‘Jackie’ Kaszas also insists they will be using all the finest ingredients in the seasonal marketplace just as his mother did at their highly popular restaurant on the Island of Lopud, near Dubrovnik. Most everything is house made from the bread to desserts. Try the Warm Octopus Salad; Steamed Mussels; Bay Scallops on the Shell; Fresh Cod Filet with grapes, olives, pearl onions; Mama Tereza’s lobster, shrimp, scallops, fish, clams and mussels steamed in a seasonal broth over pasta; Grilled Rack of Lamb; or whole roasted fish prepared out on the wood burning BBQ. “Fresh food, simply prepared is the Croatian way,” says Tomic. Open seven days for lunch and dinner. Reservations suggested. Private party facilities. Valet parking. www.durbrovnikny.com
Robust Italian Out of a Sparkling Diner
Chef-owner and personable host Dean Vivolo of Trattoria Vivolo, 301 Halstead Ave., Harrison (914-835-6199), serves his robust regional Italian cuisine out of a vintage diner just across from Harrison’s Metro-North station. Sit at the counter, tuck into a booth, or take a table in the rear greenhouse and enjoy the surprising contemporary and traditional flavors emanating from his kitchen: tasty thin-crusted pizza; fresh old-fashioned Meatballs and Sausage; Rabbit Cacciatore; Crostino di Polenta, topped with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola and tomato sauce; Lasagna Bolognese al Forno; Osso Buco, tender braised veal shank; occasional Roasted Porchetta; and warm fresh Zabaglione with fresh fruit for dessert. Good wine list. Sparkling lights evenings. Open seven days. Free parking. www.trattoriavivolo.com
Rhythmic Latin Cuisine and Nightlife
Jimmy Rodriguez and his daughter Jewelle are ready for the Holidays at rhythmic Don Coqui , 107 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains and at their original spot in New Rochelle (914-648-4848). Options include a new lunch menu: the house offers a selection of salads and sandwiches to go along with their regular menu of Puerto Rican and Latin specialties, including: Hearts of Romaine Caesar Salad; DC Triplets with pork, chicken and steak; Steak & Onion Sandwich; Roasted Pork Sandwich; and BBQ Chicken Sandwich. There are party packages for home or office. The nightlife schedule has also been updated. There is live Salsa entertainment Thursday and Friday and karaoke on Monday and Wednesday nights. On $28 Mondays patrons get three generous courses of food for this special price, including their popular appetizer platter for the whole table. Don Coqui is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from noon. Starters: $6 to $19. Main courses: $15 to $34. Lunch: $6 to $28. Bar/lounges. Cocktail menu. Bottles. Live music, dancing. Take-out. On and off premise catering for all events. Major credit cards. Municipal and valet parking. Proper casual dress. Reservations accepted; advised for larger groups. Don Coqui, New Rochelle, is located at 115 Cedar Street, just off Rt. 95. www.doncoqui.tv
Pizza, Pasta and Hoiday Parmigiana
Partners Mario Lombardo and James Romanelli of Lombardo’s, 1203 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains (914-615-9090) have been doing a bustling business since their opening last summer. They just started a Happy Hour that is as easy on your wallet as the rest of their reasonably priced Italian-American menu. Mondays through Fridays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. the house offers half-price appetizers, including their popular pizzette, and specially priced beverages and cocktails at the bar only. Fresh made appetizers and pizzette available as Happy Hour deals include: a stacked platter of Zucchini Fritti served with marinara or fra diavolo sauce; Zuppa di Cozze, fresh cultivated mussels steamed in your choice of white wine garlic and herb broth, or served in a fresh garlic and crushed plum tomato brodino; Calamari Italian Antipasto for two; Spuntino alla Lombardo, goat cheese and flame roasted peppers wrapped in prosciutto, drizzled with balsamic; and such shareable pizzette as the Vegetarian, with spinach, broccoli, flame roasted peppers and mushrooms topped with fresh mozzarella. Lombardo’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Banquets for up to 20 guests. Catering. Free parking. www.lombardospizza.com
Vongole, Sea Bass, Aged Steaks and Chops
Hospitality veterans Alex (who spent many years at Scaramella’s Restaurant in Dobbs Ferry) and his brother Ben (who worked at Sparks Steak House in Manhattan), opened Alex’s Bar & Grille, 577 North Broadway, White Plains (914-358-1444), serving classic Italian-American specialties along with a fine selection of dry aged steaks and chops. For starters there is Pan-Fried Calamari with hot cherry peppers; Asparagus Vinaigrette; Caesar Salad; and Crab Meat Cocktail. Pastas include: Linguini alla Vongole with white or red clam sauce; Gnocchi Bolognese with meat sauce; and decadent Fettuccine Alfredo with cream sauce. Entrees include: a delicious Sea Bass prepared in a variety of styles; Veal Cutlet with prosciutto, eggplant, mozzarella and brown sauce; Chicken Francese; and Lemon Sole Marechiara with clams and calamari. Hefty dry-aged steaks and chops include: Filet Mignon, Lamb Chops, Pork Chops with sautéed greens and sweet peppers, Sirloin Steak and Veal Paillard. Sides such as hash browns and creamed spinach are terrific. There is a private bar/lounge with TVs. Bar menu. Open seven days for lunch and dinner. Party facilities. Free and valet parking. www.abg2012.com
(Morris Gut is a restaurant consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for over 25 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)