Menu Movers & Shakers

Where to Hold Your Special Holiday Event, Part I

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

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Casa Rina in Thornwood serves plates of delicious meatballs and broccoli rabe with sides.

By Morris Gut

We’re always on the lookout for venues to hold that special event and be well catered to. With the holiday season coming up, here are a few suggestions in the local area.

Tesoro D’Italia

Heading the day-to-day operation is host and owner Peter Lucaj who had been general manager of Ciao Ristorante in Eastchester.

Peter, Mark and Don have done a stellar job growing this expansive Italian restaurant and catering house. The restaurant is divided into a main dining room for 100 guests, a semiprivate fireplace room for up to 40 guests and a lovely glass-enclosed wine room seating up to 25. A spacious banquet room can accommodate 130 guests for all types of parties and private events. There is an inviting tiled bar and lounge area for networking, spirited conversation and casual dining. A dramatic wine wall highlights the dining room along with smoked glass dividers and white tablecloths.

Look for their black linguini pescatore, chicken payard and Chilean sea bass. The weekday lunch special is from 12 to 3 p.m. for $24.95. Happy hours are 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the bar only. Live entertainment Friday evenings. Ample free parking.

Tesoro D’Italia is located at 160 Marble Ave. in Pleasantville. Info: 914-579-2126 or visit

Freebird Kitchen and Bar

Seasoned proprietor Nick Fusco serves tasty versions of fried calamari, meaty baby back bibs, Cobb salad, spicy chicken wings, crispy Brussels sprouts, shrimp and grits and braised short ribs. The cooking here is very satisfying and it’s all done with a friendly Southern theme. Portions are ample and shareable.

The lighting and birds hanging from the dining room ceiling give the place a magical atmosphere. There is a seasonal rooftop lounge, Sunday night jam sessions and a sprawling bar with craft beers. Happy hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. Weekend brunch. Closed Mondays. 

Freebird Kitchen and Bar is located at 161 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains. Info: 914-607-2476 of visit

Alex’s Bar & Grille

Proprietor Alex Ahmetaj serves big cuts of aged steaks and chops along with generously served Northern Italian/Continental fare. The tender steaks could be called a bargain here. Customers enter the multi-section dining room through the bar and lounge with its black industrial ceiling, banquets and soft lighting. It is a good networking spot.

The handsome dining room is split into cozy sections with white tablecloths, colorful impressionist paintings and warming sconces. Check out the pan-fried calamari with hot cherry peppers, linguini alla vongole, a delicious fresh branzino prepared tableside, classic veal parmigiana, grilled prime filet mignon, prime New York sirloin steak or the veal chop. Don’t pass up the delicious house-made cheesecake.

Alex’s Bar & Grille is located at 577 N. Broadway in North White Plains. Info: 914-358-1444 or visit

Mansion on Broadway

Housed in an historic building, it is loaded with the charm of a bygone era. It has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation and is operated by a creative culinary team ready to make your special event most memorable.

Dynamic proprietor Michael Pasqualini has restored the Mansion to its original glory. A bar and lounge is available. Whether you are planning a corporate meeting or any kind of event for up to 200 guests, Pasqualini invites you to a tour and taste of the premises by advance reservation.

Recently, Pasqualini collaborated with celebrity chef Todd English as exclusive caterers for Blade, a private jet company working out of Westchester County Airport.

Mansion on Broadway is located at 139 N. Broadway in White Plains. Info: 914-949-6900 or visit

Prime Pub

Dynamic proprietor Simi Polozani, founder of Prime Pub gastropubs in Somers and Danbury, opened his latest location last January on Route 202 in Somers at the entrance to Heritage Hills.

Walk in and you notice the extraordinary airy setting. The free-standing building sits at the edge of a large pond, which can be seen through large picture windows, a seasonal fireplace highlighted with wood and stone, an attractive dining room with well-spaced tables, contemporary lighting and a semi-enclosed bar and lounge area for schmoozing and munching. Best of all, the staff are all about hospitality from the moment you enter.

Check out menu specialties such as the honey goat cheese flatbread, their blast-from-the-past beef stroganoff, braised short ribs and the decadent Burrata Burger. Located across from DeCicco’s Market. Open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Happy hours and a kids and a craft beer menu.

Prime Pub is located at 249 Route 202 in Somers. Info: 914-617-9818 or visit

Mulino’s at Lake Isle

From the same well-heeled crew that has been serving patrons at Mulino’s of Westchester in White Plains for the past 30 years comes Mulino’s at Lake Isle, a major state-of-the-art multi-section catering facility that underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation on the grounds of Lake Isle Country Club.

Proprietor Louis Gigante and Louis Gigante Jr. are in charge. When operating at full throttle, Mulino’s at Lake Isle can accommodate up to 300 guests for all types of catered events and functions.

Mulino’s at Lake Isle is located at 660 White Plains Rd. in Eastchester. Info: 914-961-7800 or visit

Mamma Francesca

When Nick DiCostanzo was growing up on the Island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples, his earliest memories were of the simple seaside meals he would enjoy with his family. It was farm to table and, of course, sea to table.

As proprietor of Mamma Francesca for nearly 40 years, located on the banks of Long Island Sound with six-story views of the Queen City’s seafaring boat clubs, this culinary philosophy still holds true, albeit with a sprinkling of contemporary taste. There are private and semiprivate party facilities for up to 100 guests and catering packages to suit your needs. Robust Italian-American specialties include fresh-made manicotti, calamari fritti, Ischia salad, chicken parmigiana, misto frutti di mare and rabbit cacciatore. There are daily happy hours, off-premise catering and a new woodburning pizza oven. Free parking.

Mamma Francesca is located at 414 Pelham Rd. in New Rochelle. Info: 914-636-1229 or visit

Lexington Square Café

The Pearl Restaurant Group led by Jim Sullivan and Jan Fabry keep this artsy multilevel dining room and bar buzzing. New American specialties include the lobster BLT salad, pan-roasted halibut, braised short ribs, shrimp and scallop scampi, steak au poivre and the grilled angus burger. Private party facilities. Wine and specialty cocktails available from the sprawling bar. Happy hours.

Lexington Square Café is located at 510 Lexington Ave. in Mount Kisco. Info: 914-244-3663 or visit  

Casa Rina

Casa Rina on Commerce Street in Thornwood is a 40-year-old throwback to the days when the Italian-American kitchen reigned supreme. There are Sinatra photos on one wall, while Marilyn pics highlight another.

Proprietor Tommy Stratis took over the establishment some 20 years ago and has been keeping the creative juices flowing. The Italian classics are served here – great meatballs, hot antipasto for two, manicotti, rigatoni with broccoli rabe and sausage, chicken scarpariello, a big zuppa di pesce, shrimp scampi and veal saltimbocca.

Popular happy hours are weekdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Free parking.

Casa Rina is located at 886 Commerce St. in Thornwood. Info: 914-769-4515 or visit

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 30 years. He may be reached at 914-235-6591 or

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