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Jul 27, 2009 10:50 AM

Culinary Oasis in NW Westchester

JULIANNA'S hidden away on the back roads of Cortlandt Manor (276 Watch Hill Road) is a gem. It is really all about the food -- fine quality, creative prep and excellent service . I deem it one of the best in the area -- no pretension, fair pricing and a cozy fun bar just inside the front door. Overlook the main room's decor and concentrate on how much you are delighted by Chef's wonderful culinary creations. Co-owned by Michael Carrozza and Derek Palmisano. SUPPORT THESE GUYS! WE NEED THEM HERE. Big kiss...

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  1. EpicureX-Welcome to CH.
    In the future, could you put the name of the place in the headers/title section.
    Edit: I thought I saw it here before-found it talked about within a few other theads:

    1. I've only been there once even though I could just about walk there from my house (my son goes to the middle school across the street). It's a really odd location (middle of a residential area) and *really* needs a website, but it is a quite nice place with good, interesting, food and a pleasant atmosphere. But if the owner is listening, please put up a website with some sample menus!

      2 Replies
      1. re: DGresh

        I agree-The one web site address I saw posted was DOA/Non operational.
        GF and I had a nice dinner in a rather small holeinwall on 9th in NYC on Sat and even they have a web site.

        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

          'Tis indeed a nice place to eat, with a fine bartender. Have been there 3-4 times, but not recently. Thanks for the reminder it's time to go back and support nearby biz! Website would be a really good idea!

      2. Julianna's is pleasant and the food is fine, but it is hardly any better than a host of other restaurants in northern Westchester.

        4 Replies
            1. re: EpicureX

              Yep, I wanna know, too, about the host of "better" restaurants in Northern Westchester. Who's been holding out on us?

              BTW, nice mention in NY Times today of new/updated place in Mahopac on the lake, with chef formerly of X20. Sounds worth the drive once they get the service in order, and reconsider no reservations (except for parties of 8+, come ON!!) policy. If I'm driving to Mahopac, I want a reservation.

              1. re: EpicureX

                My apologies--I have a tendency to make a comment and then never check back.. Very annoying of me!

                So, local restaurants that I personally have found to be just as good or better than Julianna's--and of the same general cuisine genre--include the following: Zeph's, Division Street, Unami; Peter Pratt's Inn; Heights Bistro; Lexington Square; Flying Pig. That's off the top of my head and does not include any ethnic or type-specific restaurants, of which there are far more that I prefer to Juliana's. I'm not saying Juliana's isn't good--it just isn't special.

            2. I remember having a very good hanger steak and calamari app. was wonderful. I've been a couple times and always had a good meal, haven't been in awhile, need to get back.

              1. SO disappointing!! This is the first time I've replied to a post, as I usually just use this site for ideas, but I felt compelled to do so here. I have been reading reviews waiting for a chance to go ( we have 2 little ones, so it's not often). My husband and I are "foodies" i guess, have been for a long time, but we can't go into the city anymore and are desperate for good food up here! (We live in yorktown and the surrounding area is a wasteland when it comes to good food, unless you want pizza and italian all the time). Anyway, here was our experience last Sat, nite at Julianna's. Bread- warm but really stale. Shrimp cocktail- overcooked, rubbery with a tasteless sauce. My husabnds beer was warm. Crab cakes- stringy claw meat overcooked, greasy on a bed of 4 wilted mesclun leaves. My scallops (which are a favorite according to our very sweet waiter) were bland and so gritty that I couldn't eat them. My husbands seafood dish was also overcooked and gritty. It was so bad, we took the leftovers to go, because we felt so bad for the waiter who seemd genuinely excited about the food he serves, and then we threw it out at the nearest gas station. I liked it better when it was Gordo's- it was no culinary oasis by any stretch either, but at least you knew what you were getting- it was a basic prime rib joint and you got what you paid for, which is more than I can say for Julianna's. I hate to be so negative, but I'm wondering what the fuss is about. I'm tired of places up here not coming through on their promise of good, interesting food. ugh! I'm afraid I'm stuck with pizza/pasta joints and overpriced mediocrity (re:Peter Pratt's) until my children are older and we can once again travel a bit for dining out. Am I way off base here?

                18 Replies
                1. re: annab13

                  I live in Yorktown too and I find the restaurant options to be very good--much better than what we had in Brooklyn. We go out at least twice a week--and never to pizza and almost never to Italian. Our one limitation is finding places that work well for our 8 year-old, since many of the better places tend to be too formal. But perhaps you are simply much pickier than I am. I take it you rejected all of the places I mentioned above--Zeph's, Division Street, Unami; Peter Pratt's Inn; Heights Bistro; Lexington Square; Flying Pig. Also within 15 minutes of our house there's Thai Angels, Passage to India, at least 3 very good sushi places, Temptation Tea House, Via Vanti, Tapas 44, Peekskill Brewery, Ocean House, Portobello, Mangos, Tenapa, Taverna. There's more, but those are our 'regulars.' With the exception of Zeph's, none are outstanding, but they're all really quite good.

                  1. re: dma1250

                    I agree that I might be too picky...Sorry for the rant- I was still so angry about the $100 we spent at Julianna's after not having been out for 3 months since our youngest was born and then having such a negative experience! Anyway, we have been to most of the places you mentioned ( at least the very local ones) with varying success. I liked Umami, though it was much better when it first opened (IMO). I haven't tried the Tapas place in Croton yet, thanks for reminding me of it. I also tend not to give places a second chance. We were not impressed with Zeph's given it's Zagat rating, and never went back (that was years ago!) Ditto for Division street, the heights, and the Ocean House. Peter Kelly's places always fit the bill for us, but I was disappointed with X2O recently. (I REALLY miss the one in Garrison!) So I guess maybe I should start from scratch and give some of those places another try. BTW, we don't think Peter Pratt's is bad, just way over priced for what it is...

                    1. re: annab13

                      We used to go to Peter Pratt's a bit and one week we went on a Thursday and again on Saturday. I ordered the same wine by the glass on Saturday as I had on Thursday and they charged several dollars more for it. I too think they are overpriced. I too did not like Division Street Grill - they try way to hard and deliver funny combinations of mediochre food. Lexington is good but it can get pricey. I too miss the Garrison!!

                      1. re: annab13

                        The tapas place in Croton has been closed for quite a while now.

                        1. re: Marge

                          Marge, I was there 2 weeks ago. Do you mean it has closed since then? I can't find a website for it (I hate that), but it was recently up and running. Not great--too heavy on the sauces--but some interesting dishes.

                          1. re: dma1250

                            The place in the Blockbuster strip mall? Did it re-open?

                            1. re: Marge

                              Yes, that one. The Blockbuster is closing this month, actually. As for the Tapas place, I did not know it ahd closed. It looked the same. Maybe new management??

                              1. re: dma1250

                                Guess so...I wasn't impressed at all with it and thought it was overpriced--particularly for the setting. I'm surprised to hear Blockbuster is closing, wonder what will go into that space.

                                1. re: Marge

                                  I've never noticed a correlation between "setting" and prices. Some of the best restaurants in Weschester are in strip malls and some of the best ones in the city are in what used to be called slums.

                                  1. re: dma1250

                                    Curious as to which of the best restaurants in Westchester are in strip malls? Thanks.

                        2. re: annab13

                          You do not appear to be "too picky." If fact, I would suggest that to select a restaurant for a special date on the basis of a single rave review from a first-time poster is not being picky enough.

                        3. re: dma1250

                          to dma1250:
                          BTW, I looked up some of the other places you mentioned- they look very promising, Thank you!

                        4. re: annab13

                          To Annab13

                          I hope you told them you were not happy campers. That's the best thing to do, but thanks for the heads up on possible problems at Julianna's.

                          1. re: annab13

                            I agree with dma, there are alot of options in the area. Many of us on these boards use to be from the city and I can tell you there are alot of lousy restaurants in the city too. It's not just places "up here" that don't always come through on their promises, that can be said of anywhere. Sorry you didn't enjoy your meal at Juianna's but you can't condemn a whole area. I don't think anyone said this was a "foodie" restaurant but it's a solid neighborhood option. If you want a foodie place try Blue Hill at Stone Barns or one of the many Peter Kelly offerings, X2O etc., Zeph's, or many of the ethnic offerings. I was also underwhelmed by Peter Pratt's but I do like Umami in Croton (owned by the same people). Hope you will try to be more open minded to the area and not just put a place down because it's not in the city.

                            1. re: GIOny

                              As another NYC transplant, I agree with GIOny (well, except we enjoyed Pratt's last time we ate there)...I would elaborate that there are several interesting, great local ethnic joints (Ossining Portuguese places, South and Central American places in Ossining, Peekskill, Sleepy Hollow,etc.) that are unlike anything I've been to in the big city.

                              1. re: GIOny

                                I wasn't saying that just because they're not in the city these places are not good...I used to live down county as well as the city and just found it to be easier to find reliably good places. Just my opinion...

                                1. re: annab13

                                  Just got back from Julianas. It was fabulous! Prix fix 3 courses& wine for 29.95! Excellent butternut squash soup, a pumpkin- shrimp rissotto- perfect! & home made ice cream- I had cinnamon with bits of brownie. The Salmon looked and tasted wonderful, service was excellent- we will be back soon.

                                  1. re: rkaene

                                    Haven't been to Julianna's since back in March 09, but the 2-3 times we've been there we've been pleased, as have picky eater friends we've taken there. Thanks for the reminder, and the info on the Prix Fixe!