By Morris Gut
For nearly a generation, some of the most robust Italian regional flavors in our area have been emanating from a gleaming vintage diner across from the Harrison Metro-North station.
Chef and owner Dean Vivolo of Trattoria Vivolo in Harrison is marking his 20th anniversary with a variety of tasty new specialties, dining options and enhanced al fresco.
The 60-seat restaurant is housed in a gleaming diner with counter and booths in the front and an airy greenhouse in the rear. During warm weather, a newly-planted giant herb garden and shrubs flank a seasonal outdoor patio shaded by overhead umbrellas, decorative string lights and soft, soothing music creating a delightful atmosphere.
Al fresco dining will be expanded this year with a new outdoor bar and lounge area with sofas and firepits. It’s a perfect setting for socializing with friends and family. The entire restaurant has been refurbished, and in the evening the restaurant takes on a charming glow.
Vivolo, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), started his career training with his late father, Michael Vivolo, chef and proprietor of the former La Riserva Restaurant in Larchmont. Dean began busing tables and learning the ropes from his dad at age 14.
After his tenure at the CIA, Dean cooked at Il Montova Del Lago on the outskirts of Rome, under Chef Simone Cipriani. He also had an opportunity to work in the kitchens of the noted San Domenico in Manhattan under Chef Odette Fada and La Panetiere in Rye.
To kick off his anniversary season, Vivolo has premiered a new spring menu, updated the cocktail menus and wine list and expanded weekend hours. Customers are encouraged to lounge over a glass of wine or cup of espresso at the counter, share one of the tasty thin-crust pizzas in a booth or take in a full meal in the rear greenhouse.
The menu at Trattoria Vivolo specializes in regional Italian cuisine using nothing but the best ingredients from throughout Italy. Specials are updated daily, and special requests are accommodated with advance notice. Gluten-free options are offered.
Current seasonal specialties include Insalata Di Mare (octopus, calamari, shrimp, scungilli, fennel fronds, pickled red onion, celery, crushed red pepper, lemon and extra virgin olive oil); Asparagi Gratinati (broiled asparagus, speck and parmigiano cheese); Insalata Di Cavoli (chopped kale, roasted beets, fennel, ceci beans, red onion, pistachios and goat cheese); Cippone, a thin-crust pizza with spicy sausage and red onion; Aragosta e Capesante (Italian stir fry with lobster tail, bay scallops, mixed mushrooms, scallions, roasted peppers, pine nuts, garlic and oil); and Fusilli Calabrese (nduja, sun dried tomatoes, charred radicchio, butter and fresh herb sauce).
There’s also Gnocchi Al Cinghiale, which contains gnocchi with wild boar ragu and shaved parmigiano cheese; Tonno Di Barletta (peppercorn crusted wild tuna, fennel fronds, pickled radicchio, fresh thyme and Dijon mustard sauce; Calamari Piccante (sauteed calamari, celery, onions, a touch of marinara and spicy olive oil served with garlic bread); Pollo Martini with triple sec, orange and ginger sauce; and rib-eye Marinato, a pan-seared, marinated 16-ounce rib-eye topped with crispy onions and pepperoncini.
Save room for Vivolo’s desserts: There’s affogato (vanilla ice cream topped with double espresso); the Vivolissimo (vanilla ice cream, strawberries, cannoli cream, shaved dark chocolate, whipped cream and crushed biscotti); and Bomba Baci (chocolate ice cream, chopped hazelnuts, crumbled chocolate cookies, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, topped with baci kisses).
A special Italian “digestive” amaro cart has been set up. Selections include 30 specialty after-dinner drinks.
Special Hint: While there, check out the black and white photos of Italy hanging throughout the restaurant. They were taken by the Vivolo family during visits to Dean’s paternal hometown of Accadia-Foggia in the Apulia region of Italy.
“Most importantly, Trattoria Vivolo would not be what it is today without the love and support of my amazing wife Odelya, three children, my mother, sister and late father,” Vivolo said.
Trattoria Vivolo is located at 301 Halstead Ave. in Harrison, opposite the northbound side of the Metro-North station. Lunch is served seven days from 12 to 3 p.m. Main courses at lunch range from $10.95 to $14.95. Dinner is served Monday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 12 to 10 p.m. Main courses at dinner range from $14 to $36. Party facilities for up to 40 guests. Seasonal outdoor seating and take-out is available. Major credit cards accepted. Free and municipal parking. Casual dress. Reservations accepted. Info: 914-835-6199 or visit www.trattoriavivolo.com.
‘Cooking for a Cause’ to Help the Hungry
Janet Irizarry of the website Hudson Valley EATS, has launched a new season of virtual cooking classes with all proceeds going to feeding the hungry in the Hudson Valley.
The Chobani Family Cooking series will take place Apr. 13 and 27 and May 11. Noted chefs throughout the area are participating. Support will be going to nonprofit organizations such as Feeding Westchester, Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and Dutchess Outreach. Registration is required; sponsorships are available.
For more information, visit www.hudsonvalleyeats.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 Westchester for more than 30 years. He may be reached at 914-235-6591 or email@example.com.