By Morris Gut
The coupling of good food and wine with the sensual is the aphrodisiac of literature and verse through the ages.
Warm things up a bit this Valentine’s Day and make a whole weekend out of it. Restaurants in Westchester are gearing up to serve some of their most titillating specialties. You can also opt for takeout and delivery.
Here is an eclectic round-up of delectable dishes and dining venues for you and your loved one. Don’t forget to reserve early.
Steak for Two at Macelleria
This new high-end Italian steakhouse opened last November and offers classic cuts of prime beef and chops along with a hearty helping of Italian-American specialties. The crew will take good care of you. Be seated in the handsomely renovated dining room and bar and lounge and peruse the menu over a glass of wine. There are diver scallops, steak tartare, slabs of Canadian bacon, spaghetti carbonara, pappardelle with short rib ragu, zuppa di pesce and even a classic burger. Carnivores should consider the lamb chops, veal chop or New York strip steak.
Open seven days for lunch and dinner. Free parking. Reservations suggested.
Macelleria Italian Steakhouse, which also has a Pelham location, is located at 111 Bedford Rd. in Armonk. Info and reservations: 914-219-5728 or visit www.macelleriaarmonk.com.
Heart-Shaped Ravioli at La Bocca
Chef-proprietor Tony Spiritoso has been on the Westchester restaurant scene for 40 years. A meal here usually begins at his signature antipasti bar loaded with tempting cured imported meats, cheeses and appetizing house-made salads. A special three-course dinner with wine will be served on Valentine’s Day.
Some consider La Bocca the most authentic Italian kitchen in the area. The wine selection is among the best in the county. The dining room contains artistic columns and serving pieces. There is a new wine room for private events. Open seven days.
La Bocca is located at 8 Church St. in White Plains. Info: 914-948-3281 or visit www.laboccaristorante.com.
‘Love Shots’ at Cantina
Cantina Taco & Tequila Bar will be serving complementary “love shots” to couples on Valentine’s Day. While most patrons concentrate on the tasty tacos, try their crispy mango-jerk chicken wings and other Tex-Mex treats. Professional actor, proprietor and host John Solo has created a sprawling rustic multilevel interior dining room and long bar.
Tempting specialties include Modelo beer-battered fish tacos, garlic shrimp and the chicken-lime bowl, served with rice, peppers, black beans, sliced avocado and fresh corn. Open seven days.
Cantina is located at 166 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains. Info: 914-601-1697 or visit www.cantinany.com.
Classics at Alex’s Bar & Grille
Proprietor Alex Ahmetaj updated the menu at his restaurant and bar and lounge, offering big cuts of aged steaks and chops along with generous portions of northern Italian and continental fare. The handsome dining room is split into cozy sections with white tablecloths, colorful de Villeneuve impressionist paintings and warming sconces. Mediterranean clay-colored banquets and chairs complement wooden walls and plush beige curtained windows.
Check out the pan-fried calamari with hot cherry peppers, linguini alle vongole, a delicious fresh branzino-prepared tableside; classic veal parmigiana; grilled filet mignon; New York sirloin steak; a hefty rib-eye; or pork chops.
Alex’s Bar & Grille is located at 577 N. Broadway in North White Plains. Open daily. Free parking. Info: 914-358-1444 or visit www.alexsbarandgrille.com.
Exotic Indian Flavors
Owner Mohammed Alam of Ambadi Kebab & Grill in White Plains will be serving his exotic Indian and halal specialties all day. Look for regional dishes such as the lasuni gobi (cauliflower florets tossed with bell peppers, onion, garlic and green herbs); chicken barbecue 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.
Ambadi is located at 141 E. Post Rd. in White Plains. Info: 914-686-2014 or visit www.ambadiusa.com. Alam also operates Mughal Palace at 16 Broadway in Valhalla. Info: 914-997-6090 or www.mughalpalace.com.
Chocolates for Your Valentine
The Mast brothers recently moved Mast Chocolates from Brooklyn to Mount Kisco. They took over a long one-story building along South Moger Avenue, not far from the Metro-North station, and remodeled into a manufacturing facility, market and café featuring the Mast product line. The designers had given the entryway a carriage house look.
Once inside, our eyes were immediately drawn to a large window peeking into the chocolate processing area where big gleaming silver urns of liquid chocolate were in constant motion, whirring in circles. There are house roasted coffees and teas, and the chocolates and pastries were on display. Below the counter there is a lovely selection of cake and pie platters. The store manager is helpful with your questions. A fine Valentine’s Day indulgence. Online orders or take-out only at this time.
Mast Market + Café is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Info: 914-244-8628 or visit www.mastchocolate.com.
Celebrating Fat Tuesday
Freebird Kitchen & Bar serves a Southern-themed menu that includes such specialties as pimiento cheese balls served with pecans and Ritz crackers; fried green tomatoes; shrimp and grits; and chicken fried steak. Look for a dramatic swarm of origami flying birds hanging from the ceiling.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Happy hour is back Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Friday from 2 to 6 p.m.
Freebird Kitchen & Bar, 161 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. Info: 914-607-2476 or visit www.freebirdkitchenandbar.com.
Southern Table Kitchen & Bar offers a big dose of Southern hospitality along with the house specialties – fried green tomatoes, cheddar biscuits, grit bowls, Cajun-style seafood boils and chicken and waffles. There’s good fried chicken, too. Open daily.
Southern Table Kitchen & Bar, 39 Marble Ave., Pleasantville. Info: 914-618-3355 or visit www.southern-table.com.
Holy Crab serves fresh Cajun-style seafood. It is a long sprawling space with a bustling bar and lounge. Check out such specialties as the lobster mac and cheese, po’ boys, gumbo, snow crab legs and jambalaya. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Holy Crab, 32 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. Info: 914-948-3888 or visit www.holycrabny.com.
You can also check out Rye Roadhouse on Fat Tuesday. The fun starts at 4 p.m. with specialty cocktails, authentic New Orleans dishes and traditional King Cake. Beads and giveaways are also promised.
Rye Roadhouse, 12 High St., Rye. Info: 914-925-2668 or visit www.ryeroadhouse.com.
Savannah & Company, a family restaurant, serves up New Orleans classics such as shrimp and grits, bayou fish and chips and hearty jambalaya. Savannah & Company, 3901 Crompond Rd., Cortlandt Manor: Info: 914-736-1203 or visit www.savannahandco.com.
The King Crab features Louisiana-, Cajun- and Creole-influenced cooking. From po’ boys to crawfish boils, they serve it up big.
The King Crab, 250 Main St. (2nd floor), White Plains. Info: 914-848-4038 or visit www.thekingcrab98.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.