Restaurants Raring to Reopen in the Region – But Gradually

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By Morris Gut

Phase 2 reopening is scheduled for Tuesday and includes permission for restaurants to have outdoor dining with restrictions. The Phase 3 reopening has been tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 23, and will allow for indoor seating at restaurants with strict guidelines.

This is, of course, great news for the restaurant community, which has been struggling for months since the coronavirus shut down everything but take-out and delivery.

Restaurants in nearby Fairfield County, Conn. have had permitted outdoor dining for several weeks. Many New Yorkers have taken advantage by crossing the border.

I, for one, am anxious to get back out again to restaurants. I miss the ambiance, conviviality and the food. But there will be a new normal. We will keep you posted in the coming weeks.

The Banh Mi Shop

The buzz surrounding this Vietnamese eatery, claiming a space on Mamaroneck Avenue near the corner of East Post Road in White Plains, began four years ago. The anticipation almost grew into a roar when the new signage went up. Once the doors had finally been opened by proprietor Len Dang and his family, patronage began growing steadily. The long wait was over. Foodies have been clamoring for a Vietnamese restaurant in White Plains for a long time.

I had to try it again recently. It has always been mostly take-out with limited seating inside, and now during the coronavirus lockdown the Dengs have been struggling valiantly to stay in place. I indulged in one of their Original Banh Mi sandwiches, a crispy baguette layered with Vietnamese ham, roasted ground pork, cucumber, cilantro, spicy mayo and pickled vegetables. I ordered a side of roasted Brussels sprouts with lemongrass and garlic. I can confirm, the sandwich and the sprouts were delicious. I kept thinking about those Brussels sprouts all week.

Additional specialties include vegetarian spring rolls; chicken wings; fried calamari with basil and garlic; short rib Banh Mi; grilled lemongrass chicken rice; marinated sliced pork noodle; classic sliced beef or seafood Pho; Vietnamese ice coffee; and bubble tea.

While eating, I spoke with the amiable Deng, who confided that he was happy to be in White Plains.

About the menu? While keeping to tradition, he was taking a more modern approach to his cuisine. On my next visit, I must try the Pho, one of the Vietnamese big bowl noodle soups.

The Banh Mi Shop is located at 148 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Available for take-out and catering. Local delivery. Info: 914-686-6888. (The website is under construction.)

El Barrio Opens in Scarsdale

They had barely put up new signage when the coronavirus crisis hit. Chef Sal Cucullo Jr. and partners at the former 808 Social have rebranded the eatery into El Barrio highlighting Mexican street food. It is open for take-out and delivery. There is fine talent at work here and a playful new design. Cucullo also operates The 808 Bistro on Scarsdale Avenue in Scarsdale.

Specialties at El Barrio ready for take-out or delivery with patio dining coming soon, include calamares y camarones fritos, arbol aioli; traditional guacamole; wood-fired quesadillas; tacos and tostadas; an El Barrio Burger wrapped in a flour tortilla; and freshly made south-of-the-border cocktails.

El Barrio is located at 185 Summerfield St. in Scarsdale. Patio dining coming soon; seven days a week. Info: 914-723-2600 or visit www.elbarrio.com

Soft-shell Crab Season is Here

The season for fresh soft-shell crab runs through September and there are legions who crave this delicacy simply sautéed or deep fried with some lemon and butter (perhaps some capers). Of course, there are other recipes, too. Nothing like a crispy soft-shell crab sandwich with the proper condiments. I’m a big fan. They have been showing up at area markets.

Here’s where to get them for take-out, delivery and soon on-premise dining at restaurants.

La Piccola Casa. Chef/owner Walter Ricci, who cooks across from blossoming Harbor Island Park, personally shops the Hunts Point Fish Market during the wee hours of the morning, and he was clued about the arrival of soft shells from one of his valued seafood purveyors. He does a flavorful job with them. Located at 410 W. Boston Post Rd., Mamaroneck. Info: 914-777-5766 or visit www.lapiccolarestaurant.com.

Riverview. Jim Ely and company have kept this picturesque spot bustling for 20 years. They will offer soft-shell crab in a variety of styles. Take-out and delivery. Located at 45 Fair St., Cold Spring. Info: 845-265-4778 or visit www.riverdining.com.

Fin & Brew. Right on the banks of the Hudson at Charles Point and part of the Factoria complex, they serve a fine soft-shell crab sandwich with the works. Limited availability. Temporary kitchen hours are Friday through Sunday, 12 to 8:15 p.m. Located at 5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill. Info: 914-788-4555 or visit www.finandbrew.com.

Trattoria Vivolo. Chef/proprietor Dean Vivolo will have soft-shell crab on hand as they come up from the Chesapeake, fried or sautéed, as you like it. Located at 301 Halstead Ave., Harrison. Info: 914-835-6199 or visit www.trattoriavivolo.com.

X20 Xaviar’s on the Hudson. Chef Peter X. Kelly and company do a fine job with soft-shell crab every year. Enjoy them along with expansive views of the Hudson River. Take-out and delivery. Located at 71 Water Grant St., Yonkers Info: 914-965-1111 or visit www.xaviars.com.

3 Westerly Bar & Grill. A seasonal crab cake sandwich is on their contemporary American menu. Available for take-out and delivery on weekends from 12 to 8 p.m. Located at 3 Westerly Rd., Ossining. Info: 914-762-1333 or visit www.3westerly.com.

The 808 Bistro. Chef Salvatore will be serving soft shells with creamy polenta and cheese and spinach and stuffed tomatoes on the side. Sounds yummy! Located at 808 Scarsdale Ave., Scarsdale. Info: 914-722-0808 or visit www.the808bistro.com.

Harbour Fish & Company. This independently owned fresh fish and seafood market offers plenty of take-out options. They will have soft-shell crab on hand live or cooked. Call ahead. Located at 154 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck. Info: 914-630-4790 or visit www.harbourfishandco.com.

KEE Oyster House. They have reopened and are ready to go. The daily catch served with a contemporary attitude and atmosphere. Fish and seafood are pristine. Located at 128 E. Post Rd., White Plains. Info: 914-437-8535 or visit www.keeoysterhouse.com.

Holy Crab Cajun Seafood. Serving fresh Cajun-style seafood as you would see in New Orleans. Steamed sous vide bags, too. Located at 32 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. Info: 914-948-3888 or visit www.holycrabny.com.

Saltaire Oyster Bar and Kitchen. Soft shells are prepared in a variety of styles. Located at 55 Abendroth Ave., Port Chester. Info: 914-939-2425 or visit  www.saltaireoysterbar.com.

Eastchester Fish Gourmet & Market. Serving soft shells all season long. They shop the new Fulton Fish Market each week. You can take home from their market a few doors down, too. Located at 837 Post Rd., Scarsdale. Info: 914-725-3450 or visit www.eastchesterfishgourmet.com.

Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish. Located on a farm where they harvest herbs and produce for the restaurant kitchen. Seasonal soft shells are a specialty. There is a rustic farmers market on site. Located at 100 Titicus Rd., North Salem. Info: 914-617-8380 or visit www.farmerandthefish.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 at gutreactions@optonline.net.

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