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Mar 15, 2006 06:55 AM

Middle-of-the-road Italian in Westchester

  • d

Thoughts, my opinions only, on some moderately priced Italian restaurants in the Westchester area with decent food:

--I've posted here about my intense dislike of the service at Gina Marie's in Eastchester. Cancel this one out.

--I don't like the 'paisan' feeling at Francesco's (echoed here by others). I'm not one of the paisans, so there you go. Cancel this one out as well.

--Graziella's is okay, but I dislike paying to park. WP gets enough of my money.

--Pasta e pesce is quite good, and the parking is free. It could not be MORE fun on Tuesday nights.

--Via Appia is under new ownership and is not good. The long brown hair in the take-home package was a deal breaker. Cancel that one out.

--Silvio's in Thornwood is also quite good, portions are ample, the parking is free, and the service is very nice. Just went there last night.

--T&J's in Portchester is okay, not very good.

--LaManda's in White Plains puts out their food on an express schedule, and I'm not interested in eating my appetizer at the same time as my dessert. Cancel this one out.

--Piero's in Portchester, ditto.

--Alba's is all flash, no substance.

--Bastone's in New Rochelle is abysmal.

--Mama Francesca in New Rochelle is akin to Pasta e pesce, minus the music.

Now, I'm Italian, I'm constantly cooking Italian, so masochist that I am, I gravitate towards Italian restaurants. Probably because the husband is adverse to the other fascinating ethnic restaurants close by.

Therefore, I'm very critical of the Italian places, and don't like uber expensive ones which don't deliver. Pinocchio, Guida's, Gavi, Rosie's Bistro and Mulino's deliver. Lusardi, and whatever it is across from Le Provencal don't.

Long story short, can the expert gourmets here recommend other middle-of-the-road Italian restaurants in Westchester?

We've lived in White Plains for 16 years, and we have YET to find a place that we can call 'our' place. As per the aforementioned, it looks like it will have to be an Italian place.


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  1. If we don't feel like driving to Arthur Ave in the Bronx, Valentino's on Bronx River Road in Yonkers is our choice.

    1. Have you been to Valentino's on Bronx River Road in Yonkers? It's right next to the 241st St exit on the Bronx River Parkway South. I think it may fit your requirements. When it first opened back in the mid 80's it was an "in the know" type of place and had a slight "Family" presence. That has changed and it is now a family (lowercase) and spousal date place.

      By the way I agree with you about the new Gina Marie's being terrible. It's such a shame because I loved them at their old location in Fleetwood. It had such great service, quality, portion size, and prices back then.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JMF

        Thanks everyone. I forgot to mention that a particular pet peeve of mine is the fried calamari appetizer. If that isn't made at least decently in the aforementioned places, it puts me in a mood.

        By the way, Zen Tango and MacMenamin's make a fried calamari appetizer (my opinion only) to die for.

        Janie, I did like Ernesto's the one time I was there. However, if they can't throw me a cheap little side dish of pasta, I don't think I can go back.

        JMF, I've long heard about Valentino's and will have to get there one of these days. Funny lower case, I like that.

        I'm glad to read you agree on Gina Marie. I hope the lady who was here from a food magazine is reading, because I do like a good bit of payback.

      2. Our current Italian choices are as follows:

        -- Ernesto's on Post Rd, WP. We've been going for years, and their food has always been reliable. Lately, they've taken to serving only veg (and no pasta) as side included with meat/fish entrees, which has annoyed some friends of ours but doesn't bother us. They've also taken to having live musical entertainment on weekends, which can be intrusive on occasion when you want to talk, and they frequently have big groups celebrating something or other, and that can be very noisy.

        -- In that last year or so, we've started going on occasion to Chef Andrea in Silver Lake, and we find it decent.

        -- We also like Piccolo Mulino in Mamaroneck, but it is very small, and we tend to go mostly in the summer when their back garden is open.

        1. d
          Deborah Davidson

          Agree with most of the postings. However, I think Valentino's is living on its myth/laurels, assuming it had either of either. I went to the little place in Mamaroneck once; food was ok, service was great, but it wasn't anything special. Nice to have as an option though. I like Ernestos, and I think you trade off the extra pasta side dish for the great bruschetta they give you as a lagniappe. They will even bring more if you wolf it down and ask nicely.
          Have you tried Villagio on Central Ave. near Epsteins? When you walk in, it is very unprepossesing, but the tables in back have cloths, the garlic knots are too good for your own good, and the wine/drinks are more than OK. The menu is extremely varied, and you can have anything from great pizza (tell them to hold the offensive dried oregano) to inventive pasta to meats/fish and stuff (I'm veg so I don't eat that, but my husband loves their animal based offerings). There is a large specials board, but in truth they don't seem to vary that much from visit to visit.
          The service is good - very sweet, good intentioned waiters. They don't seem to be paisons, but they are more than adequate, if not the foot sore pros of Little Italy/the Bronx.
          Speaking of the Bronx, if you want to haul over there, forget Arthur Ave. Big hype, bad food, no parking, tres touristy. Go instead to the Pelham Pkwy area (I work at Einstein). There's a ton of places, and you can research to see what everyone likes, but I think you'll like Patricias and Captains. Let me know if any of this works for you.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Deborah Davidson

            Speaking of the Bronx, if you want to haul over there, forget Arthur Ave. Big hype, bad food, no parking, tres touristy.

            I couldn't disagree more! There is ample street and municipal parking...and "tres touristy"..pleeeez, the markets, restaurants and streets are as New York (City)as an area can get. And for someone who doesn't partake in "animal based offerings", I don't understand your qualifications to pronounce that Arthur Avenue restaurants are "big hype" with "bad food". But perhaps this discussion is more suited to the outer boroughs board...

            1. re: Marge

              I agree,Food is outstanding at most places.My only concern is that most of the time you are in a very informal setting.But then again you are talking middle of the road.

              1. re: Marge

                De gustibus non est disputandum.
                I wasn't going to respond to your post because I thought it was a tad aggressive, but I think the proper and polite thing to do is explain my response.
                I have been to eat in various Arthur Ave restaurants over the years, both before and after becoming veg. I've been around a long time. Even post veg, everyone I dine with eats everything' meat, fish, pasta, etc. Except for the one friend who organizes our irregular treks, the rest of us (probably about another dozen people of various backgrounds) secretely feel (we don't want to upset our friend) that the food is mediocre, and the service runs from not bad at best to downright awful. When I say "touristy" if you think about the wonderful restaurants in say Florence or Rome (I don't mean the high end either, I mean where regular people eat), the atmosphere and the food, not to mention the service, is always way above what's served on Arthur Ave (and many other places). I think that for Italian American food, Pelham Pkwy is more accessible, cheaper, friendlier and tastier. Just my opinion. Also the opinion of my friends. And we do, some of us, like Villagios in Hartsdale. Others in our group like Pastinas, of which I'm not a huge fan. I have enjoyed Rustico's on Central Ave in Scarsdale, but I think it's a tad more expensive than most of the places mentioned here.
                Sorry if I upset you with my assessment, but I really don't think that impugning my credentials is appropriate.

                1. re: Deborah

                  Not impugning your vegetarianism, some of my best friends are vegetarian, well not my best friends, but anyway...Arthur Avenue is not known as a mecca of vegetarian restaurants, it is known as the Little Italy of the Bronx, where quite authentic, not to mention fun, middle of the road, Italian-AMERICAN food can be had. For you to proclaim Arthur Avenue as touristy, with big hype and bad food, based on your admitted non-consumption of any animal products, including fish, is quite frankly, absurd, not to mention improper and impolite. No, Arthur Avenue is not Florence or Rome, it is the Bronx, NY. I appreciate that you now state that it is the OPINION of you and your friends that Arthur Avenue restaurants serve mediocre to awful food, as opposed to your original post warning people away from the "tres touristy" over-hyped and bad food area. As I posted, I couldn't disagree more with your assessment, but...chacun a son gout!

              2. re: Deborah Davidson

                Thanks, Deborah. I can't figure where Villagio is, I'll have to look it up and give it a try. Sad to say, I've never been to Epstein's.

                1. re: dolores

                  Don't go to Epsteins! Save yourself. It's dirty and disgusting, and I know that's to be expected from delis, but really, this place is gross and so is the food. Except the corn beef. Before I was veg, many moons ago, I used to love that corn beef. But anyway...
                  There is a Goldman's Yarn (soon to close) and a Bed and Bath (ditto) in the same shopping center. It's easily findable and parkable.
                  Villaggio Italiano Pizzeria Restaurant
                  (914) 949-3427
                  389 N Central Ave,
                  Hartsdale, NY 10530+1811

              3. how much do you usually pay for parking while eating at graziellas?

                1 Reply
                1. re: valet

                  I don't know...the last time I was there I parked free, in the lot that used to belong to Alexander's. I haven't been back since, and to my knowledge there are no more free lots in White Plains.