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Jan 8, 2009 07:40 PM

Onward...White Plains Primed to become America's Sienna, Paris, Bruges, etc.

I'm new to CHOWOUND, but old to WP (moved in temporarily in 2000 and never left)...and have tried to add my .02 to some of the threads and stayed out of the trash talking.

But a few thoughts after reading about my home town, and the bashing that Iron Tomato, Antipasti, Via Quadrano, The Ritz, Trump, Etc. are receiving. We have some decent, some good, and some very good restaurants. There is generally better food in Manhattan and Queens...but we have Westchester quality of life and Westchester Prices (which are significantly cheaper than Manhattan...yes while still being outrageously high). But

I used to refer to downtown White Plains as little beirut when we moved in...I much prefer on a Saturday around Noon to walk to the book store, head to starbucks for a coffee with my paper, or catch a movie (well frankly, that was before our son was born...not so easy now)...and it is much easier to indulge my inner and outer gourmand today than years ago.

When we moved in our restaurant choices within walking distance was the awful Thai place (nice owner) on Main and Broadway...a splurge for Bengal Tiger...and that was about it other than fairly lame italian at Laguna, etc.

During the warmer early evening you will see us walking with the family down Mamaroneck from our condo (God forbid...sorry Dolores), taking a stroll to Iron Tomato for Gelato, an espresso, or down the street to Big Apple Smoothie for...a smoothie. It is our "not as pretty" version of the after dinner stroll down most main streets that happens in Italy. A date night can involve a walk to one of 7 reasonably good restaurants.

I was eating at La Bocca one night and Delfino walked in...I almost interrupted his meal to ask him to take the White Plans development plan one step further...Friday and Saturday nights (maybe Thurs), block off Mamaroneck Avenue and the area surrounding the fountain for Pedestrian only traffic. Shopkeepers would stay open longer, restaurant's could do what they often do in Piazza towns and put tables out on the sidewalk and street. I think it would rock and foster a more family friendly and 30 something friendly community. Cops on Horses to keep the adolescents from going to crazy.

In the mean time, I will enjoy my cheese plate with a glass of Malbec at Antipasti, my steak at 42, my Vindaloo at Bengal Tiger, my strolls with the stroller to Iron Tomato, my Tapas at Peniche, my Asian Market on Hamilton, and La Boccaor Tango for a quiet romantic meal. Yes we need more Lefteris' and cheap eats that are not dialed down milktoast...but it is sooooo much better than it was. Enjoy our town and community...get out there, eat drink and be merry!

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  1. >>During the warmer early evening you will see us walking with the family down Mamaroneck from our condo (God forbid...sorry Dolores),

    No problem. Better you than me. I'm proud that you thought of me to call out.

    1. I grew up in Yonkers (I live in Goldens Bridge now) and remember what White Plains used to be. I too am tired of White Plains bashing. The company I work for is in White Plains, but they moved up from NYC and all I hear about is how awful White Plains is. especially the food. I, for one, am a huge fan of the IronTomato - FRESH carved turkey and a big delicious prime rib every day. I have not yet been to Antipasti but it is on my list regardless of what they say here. I will tell you that even my work buddies who are very against WP love Antipasti. We have chosen to give up the hectic city life and maybe we have fewer choices here for food and, especially food delivery, but it is peaceful up here (we moved up from queens).

      1. While I do agree with most of your post, i'll take one exception. I don't agree that "Westchester prices are significantly cheaper than Manhattan." Cheaper than the top NYC places? Sure. But not nearly as good. On the other hand (or mouth), you can pretty much go to any street in NYC and have a choice of 3 or 4 neighborhood restaurants with better food than the likes of Antipasti or 42 or Tango at lower prices. I agree that WP is way better than it used to be. But high quality/reasonable cost? Not so much...

        4 Replies
        1. re: foodlad

          >>I agree that WP is way better than it used to be.

          Depends on your viewpoint. You have to like the current atmosphere in WP to believe that.

          >>But high quality/reasonable cost? Not so much...

          Quite true, foodlad.

          No restaurant in WP is any better than any other restaurant in Westchester, and imo, the other restaurants in Westchester far exceed WP's in price and quality. And the parking is free.

          1. re: dolores

            I have been living in White Plains for three years. White Plains has come a long way but still has a ways to go. We need more variety in ethnic cuisine (enough with Pan Asian fusion and Irish pubs) and more moderate priced restaurants serving good food. I enjoy the convience of not having to get into my car to shop or eat. I can even walk to work. There are a number of new restaurants (which have been named numerous times) that opened to great hype but never delivered... I

            1. re: kaaaassss

              seriously kaaaassss, the only "ethnic" food i consider in wp is golden krust, which is a chain, and the new turkish place that i have yet to try. granted, there are some good mexican and south american places, but that's about it. i just don't understand what's up w/ the half dozen+ irish pubs, the tons of mediocre yet ripoff restos and the weird bargain stores that comprise mamk ave. & main street. to me, it doesn't have that neighborhoody, cozy town feel that i get when i walk down the main streets of, let's say, nyack (which i haven't done in a long while), w/ their nice selection of cafes and places to eat. granted, nyack is a small town on the hudson, but wp has its share of beauty, just not downtown. i may be a basher, but i just think there is something sorely lacking here.

              1. re: unocal

                Hey unocal, the bargain stores are disappearing one by one. The plan was to replace them with higher end shops and restaurants. Things seem to have slowed down since the economy has slipped. Some of the larger "look at us we have new york chefs, and very high prices" are now doing everything they can to bring in the people that they didn't want when they opened up. There are so many Irish pubs because each and every one of them always has a crowd....Granted it's a young crowd but they are here to stay. I think white plains is still in transition and hopefully it can find its way to have something for everyone.

        2. I'm actually very glad that you made this post Rinjani. I am another WP resident who is extrememly excited about the options offered in WP, and the potential future options as well. I too am really tired of seeing all the bashing on this board. Not only is Manhattan nearly 200 times larger than WP (in terms of population), it is one of the most diverse cities in the entire world. So to compare WP to NYC straight up is simply not fair. As a northern / suburban alternative though, I think it fares rather well. Sure, there are plenty of gaps that can still be filled, but if I look at those that already have since I moved here just 4 years ago I am astounded at the progress made.

          And while I can see it's apparently not a popular view on this board, I am actually very pleased with most of the dining options in White Plains - yes, that includes Antipasti and BLT. Peniche has become one of my favorite restaurants offering excellently prepared tapas in an exciting atmosphere; 42 is a breathtaking option for a special occasion; Tango Grill does an excellent job with a large albeit interesting menu; Mulino's offers excellent Italian food in a comfortable setting; Bengal Tiger speaks for itself... and I could go on and on with various other restaurants that I am always willing to go for a return visit. And that's not even mentioning the "cheaper" alternatives such as Karamba cafe, Roberto's, and even Golden Krust bakery, believe it or not. And there is nothing better to me than sitting outside enjoying lunch at one of the Avenue bars on a beautifull sunny day. I could honestly go on and on with the many things I love about White Plains. And while it may not be for everybody, it's definitely for me.

          19 Replies
          1. re: wpfoodie

            wpfoodie - What is the 'Roberto's' you reference above??

            1. re: anchovy

              Roberto's a very authentic Mexican family restaurant on Post Road and the corner of Grand, I believe. We've had delicious and very inexpensive meals there, but the service in our experience is kind of haphazard.

              1. re: VFresser

                If you like Robertos go two doors down (heading west) and there is a really good taco place- forget the name, I used to work around there but haven't been back in a while. It was discussed on this board about a year ago along with other tacquerias (sp?) in WP.

                1. re: Wizzapizza

                  the place two doors down is Taqueria Mexico Lindo. And, yes, it is good. Or was, that is. Someone here posted that it closed a week ago. That's too bad because I really liked their lengua tacos.

                  As for Roberto's... maybe I'm not ordering the right things, but I am not a big fan. If I want great tacos nearby, check out Sunshine Deli on Lake Ave, near where Kensico and Lake intersect. Great tacos (Al Pastor, Bistek and cochinita pibil (if they have it) are my favorite. But they also have good quesadillas with huitlacoche and lots of other great stuff.

                  Also, if you go to Robertos, you have to go when the jukebox isn't on. Last time I was there, the jukebox was so loud it literally hurt my ears. And I'm used to blaring mariachi music. But this was so loud it HURT...

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    Is there a time when the jukebox isn't it on Adam? When we were there the music was so loud we couldn't even stay to eat. Went to Sunshine for take-out instead so can't say I was sorry we had to leave Roberto's but I would like to try it sometime.

                    1. re: laylag

                      I don't know. It wasn't on the first few times I went (a year ago). But the last time I went I had the same experience. Completely impossible to enjoy a meal there with that jukebox on so loud.

                      I spent my youth going to many a punk concert... that jukebox is louder than most of the concerts I went to.

                      Given that sunshine doesn't have that problem AND the food is better, I don't know that I'll go back to even try...

                2. re: VFresser

                  Roberto's is nasty and the service is rude. They had no sour cream c'mon no sour cream now that is just crazy. My son ordered french fries and it took over 5 mins to get an empty bottle of ketchup. We waited several more minutes for more ketchup and all they did was add water to the bottle. The food was not fit for human consumption.

                  1. re: justmytwocents

                    I'll agree that I'm not a big fan of the food. And adding water to a ketchum bottle is a bit off putting, isn't it?

                    However... asking a taqueria-like Mexican restaurant to serve sour cream is a bit like expecting an authentic Italian restaurant to serve Kraft Parmesan. I've never seen a self respecting mexican restaurant serve sour cream. They'll sometimes have crema, which is much thinner, more tangy, cream, but even then I don't think I've ever seen it served on the side. It's usually topped on sopes or tostadas or huaraches, etc.

                3. re: anchovy

                  Like has already been said, Roberto's is a Mexican family restaurant on Post Rd. I find they have some great options at very reasonable prices. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a chance to try the other taquerias that have been spoken about (Mexico Lindo and Sunshine Deli), but I am really looking forward to it.

                  1. re: wpfoodie

                    I just posted about Sunset Grille - apparently they were considered #1 for Mexico Autentica at their old location. They are back and I think they are 100% top notch as far as the food goes. Here is my review:


                    1. re: amyrdiner

                      Oh, I am very familiar with Sunset Grille - this used to be me "go to" spot in WP. Unfortunately, I haven't made it to the new location yet due to the mixed reviews on this board so far. Waiting for them to work out the kinks - as I'm sure they will - before I make my return. Keeping my fingers crossed...

                      1. re: wpfoodie

                        you and everyone else that is a Sunset Grill fan....

                    2. re: wpfoodie

                      Have not tried Roberto's but will get there very soon - Hacienda Azteca is my go to Mexican in WP - the salsa is addicting - the margaritas are fresh and tasty - and the food does not disappoint - my only kvetch is that I wish they made the guacamole portion larger - Staff is friendly and helpful -

                  2. re: wpfoodie

                    I love White Plains, I moved here from Manhattan three years ago, drawn to the combination of urban and suburban that White Plains offers. I also grew up not too far away and I remember the ghost town White Plains became at 5p.m. every day. I get that it is not fair to compare with NYC, but I guess I'm guilty of seeing what White Plains could be rather than focusing on how far it has come. Many here are right to step back and comment on this incredible transformation. But the fact is that it can go so much further..

                    The great thing about NYC's food culture is its diversity and accessibility. Westchester is much different demographically, but changing. The old Westchester restaurant model was, and remains to a large degree, focused on the weekend dinner customer- older, more likely to repeatedly go to the same place where they are known, willing and able to spend a considerable amount of money. These are your Mulinos and your Panetierres. It seems to me that model is dying- especially in our current economic climate. People are more likely to eat out on weeknights in place of regular dinner, rather than just special occassions and weekends. They are also more food-savvy. They want authenticity and accessiblilty. Neither of which an overpriced "Asian fusion" restaurant offers. To keep building more of these fancy restaurants doesn't make sense.

                    For me, and from what I gather, for a lot of others, spare me your valet parking and your indoor coy ponds and give me a simple, good Thai joint. Give me a place that does really good brick oven pizza and nothing else. Give me a wine bar that serves salumi and cheese plates and doesn't try to suck your next mortgage payment out of your wallet. Focus on your ingredients, not your decor. Spend less on overhead and see how customers will return again and again.

                    And we are off to a great start. Shout out to Bao's for great take-out, and to Iron Tomato for filling a huge void with fantastic products. Kudos to Aberdeen's dim sum and Kam Sen's roasted meats and other goodies. Mexico Lindo's tacos al pastor. Latin American Cafe's Cubanos.

                    I love so much about White Plains- I just want more. Sorry.

                      1. re: Wizzapizza

                        Yes, well put, indeed. Although I was one of the people who talked about where WP used to be, I agree with you. And, I for one get lunch at the Iron Tomato almost every day!

                      2. re: wpfoodie

                        It's silly for anyone to try and compare any place to New York City. Like you said New York is one of the more diverse cities in the world. It's a great city and an even greater food city. It's not fair to try and compare any place within the tri-state are to New York. I agree with you completely.

                        1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                          Exactly. No suburb will be like New York City that is why they are the suburbs. I think food choices have improved and hopefuuly will continue to improve. I think Westchesterites should stop comparing us to New York City.

                          1. re: kaaaassss

                            I will definitely say that the overall food quality and choices are FAR better than the suburbs I grew up in on the West Coast. Granted, we had (and have) MUCH better Mexican food out where I grew up, but beyond that, chain restaurants were virtually the only dining option. And as I've traveled through the country, I've seen that to be true in most places. There are always a few good local places here and there, but mostly suburbs are chain restaurant enclaves. And while we certainly have those in WP, it's very, very easy to avoid them too. That in and of itself should be a point of pride.

                            And, to go back to the mexican point. At least we've got a few down and dirty taqueria style places in WP and Port Chester around to satisfy the demanding palate.

                            Now, if we could just get a stinking Vietnamese restaurant, I'd be happy.

                      3. Thanks Rinjani for your post.

                        I totally agree with you. I also live in White Plains and there are many great restaurants. It is just amazing how people would even think to compare White Plains to NY. It is an unfair comparison but more than that, just the typical Westcheter snobbery. We are in a recession and people are losing there jobs and people just spread nasty rumors and comments on these boards that for the most part, have very little truth. First of all, if you ask to see a menu and you don't like the prices, leave! Why eat at the place with an attitude and then bad mouth the place on the internet. My husband and I are really impressed with the choice we have in WP and now do not go to the NYC to eat. To me NYC, may have more choice but the prices are still higher! Nevermind the cost for the rail ticket, subway or parking. My husband and I used to eat out three times at week... had to cut down recently but we ate at many of the restaurants that people refer to in these blogs. I had no problems with Antipasti, Via Quadronno, the Melting Pot, Laguna's, Hito, Emma's Ale House, Elements, Mulino's, Gervasi's, Seasons, and even the new Zanaro's. I am happy that these restaurants are there. They are an improvement to White Plains, create jobs and I love to support my local businesses and my hometown grow into a better community. I like your idea of closing down Mamaroneck Ave and have outdoor dining. When I lived in Europe, I loved that type of scene and wish we could have it here. So, for what is worth, I hope people who like to dine out continously try new places locally and not listen to someone who already has an attitude in the first place, ( which leads to the bad service) blabber stories that in this economy, can put restaurants out of business. I have never owned a restaurant but my husband did some bartending in his day and he mentioned how hard this business is and the cost of just running a simple operation. Keep an open mind and give some of these places a chance, if for the fact that it keep your property values higher ;)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: gir7375

                          Rah rah rah! I see this is your first post to Chowhound, and it will probably be your last. You see, people here have opinions about food, and often those opinions are not what the restaurants or the local Chamber of Commerce want to hear. Property values? Huh?

                          Let me ask you a question? What's better- a bustling, busy restaurant that has tons of fans and cranks out great food or an overpriced restaurant with a dining room of empty tables and three teenagers in red coats standing outside looking bored because they haven't valet-parked a Mercedes in over two hours? How do empty restaurants that the average resident can't afford raise property values? When these places start closing and becoming vacant, how does that help my property value? How long do jobs last when the restaurant is doomed to close because of lack of business.

                          Let's keep it simple here- frank talk, candid opinions, about food- not property values.

                            1. re: Wizzapizza

                              Well I for one hope it is not her last post, seeing that the value of a board lies in the quality and quantity of the contributions and contributors. There's nothing wrong with mentioning a relationship between property values and food - it was not the main point of her post. If she believes that great restaurants exist in WP, then I want to hear about them.