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Westchester Red-Sauce Roundup: What's good, what's bad?

One restaurant type Westchester isn't short on is red-sauce, Italian-American places - even the smallest community seemingly has at least one, and I get Groupon and LivingSocial offers from Italian-American places all over the county on a weekly basis.

So I'm creating this thread with the hopes that Westchester folks can put together a comprehensive list of what red-sauce joints in the county are worth a visit - or not - and why.

I'm based in White Plains, here are a couple of places I've been to recently.

Francesco's, 600 Mamaroneck Avenue: Pretty good, with huge portions at low prices. I've enjoyed their baked pasta dishes, as well as their pork chop with vinegar peppers.They don't overcook and dry out their meat dishes, which I find is a problem at many red-sauce places. They make a surprisingly good pizza as well. One downside is the dining room is small, so getting a table on Friday or Saturday night can be difficult.

Esposito's, 359 Mamaroneck Avenue: I thought it was OK the first couple of times I went, but subsequent visits revealed that most of their food - most notably, their red sauce - to be pretty bland. One example - a meatball parm hero in which the meatball was totally flavorless and the sauce was pasty and dried out. Their pizza is pretty ordinary as well. Their predecessor in this spot, Ianelli's, was much better. Haven't been to Esposito's original location in Valhalla, but not rushing to get there.

All picks/pans are welcome!

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  1. I like a bunch of places that are scattered all over the county. I've found these to be really good & consistent over the years. I love that in a red sauce joint! :o)
    Yonkers: Carlo's, Luciano's, Pizza Beat
    New Rochelle: Modern
    Greenburgh: Pizza & Brew (not the greatest, but good and a good value)
    Irvington: Mima
    Pleasantville: The Riviera (very old-fashioned & charming too)

    6 Replies
    1. re: Sra. Swanky

      I lived in Irvington before moving to White Plains. While I've been to Mima - and enjoyed it - I'm not sure I would classify it as a red-sauce, Italian-American place.

      What are some of the particularly good dishes you've had at the places you mentioned?

      1. re: kdgchow

        You can't go wrong with most things on their specials boards.
        Carlo's does meat dishes particularly well. Modern, Pizza Beat and Pizza & Brew have good pasta selections. Modern has a white pizza with bacon - good as an appetizer.
        Riviera does very traditional dishes very well - steak, pork chops in vinegar peppers, etc. and pastas. I love that they still have potato croquettes - you don't see those too often anymore!

      2. re: Sra. Swanky

        I love the Riviera in Pleasantville!!!!

        1. re: apples

          Me too! I asked to go there for my birthday next month. Great cozy little place. :o)

        2. re: Sra. Swanky

          I don't get the appeal of pizza beat. We ate there a couple of times after we first moved to Westchester and I always left feeling ripped off somehow.

        3. Check out La Manda's in Greenburgh - excellent Chicken Scarp!

          11 Replies
          1. re: wpfoodie

            We like the pork chop and vinegar peppers at La Manda's. We always ask them to make it with the sliced potatoes.

            1. re: GIOny

              Like them too...so good
              La Mandas:
              Pork chops vinegar and cherry peppers
              broccoli rabe

              1. re: chowdom

                I had a very good crab cake at Carlo's a couple of months ago with a very nice amount of lump crabmeat, it was served with a red pepper coulis. My husband however was disappointed with his shell steak, the quality of the beef was just not as good as it usually is.

            2. re: wpfoodie

              Is that the place on 119? I've heard good things about their pizza.

                1. re: mrsdebdav

                  Thank you. What a fabulous red sauce menu. That's an old fashioned Italian restaurant menu all right!!

                  1. re: wincountrygirl

                    The place is old fashioned (note: no credit cards). I haven't been there in years, but I remember it was totally old-school. Hope you have a good time and a great meal.

                    1. re: wincountrygirl

                      Prepare to step into a time warp. Some might find it off putting I find the decor or lack there of adds to the charm of the place/experience....It truly is transportive. Lincoln lounge is the only place I can think of that has a similar vibe/ambiance.

                      I recommend going with one of the house specials. We

                      enjoyed the cheese cake a cross between NY and Italian.

                      If you like somewhat of a crackery crust try the pizza.

                      1. re: chowdom

                        I love chicken scarpariello on the bone and I heard they do a good on here. Not sure when I'll go, probably,when I have to be in the area, but I'll let you know how I make out.

                        1. re: chowdom

                          Went to La Manda last night. My folks came up from the city and we picked them up at the station and headed over. Got there at 5 and by 5:15 it was really crowding up. It was a time warp, for sure. But the food was good. Three of us had the salads with our mains and they were fresh with a very nice vinaigrette. Dad and dh shared mussels - good sauce. Dad had zuppa de pesci which he loved. The only thing I did not like was the marinara sauce on his pasta - very bitter. I had the chicken scarpariello which was really good. So did mom. My husband had veal francese - tender and tasty. We were all stuffed by the end!! And the nicest part - the service was attentive and friendly. The owner or manager came around to make sure everything was ok. When the owner - the older woman was told it was our first time there she came over to chat and make sure we liked everything. All in all, a really good experience. We will go back when we are in the area. The pizza looked good, too!

                          1. re: wincountrygirl

                            Thank you for reporting back Winecountrygirl. I'm glad you and your family enjoyed the food and overall experience.

                2. I like Valentino's in Yonkers, Scaramella's in Dobb Ferry, and La Catena in Arsdley.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: scarsdalesurprise

                    +1 on Valentinos and Scaramella's. La Lanterna in Yonkers is very good too.

                    1. re: scarsdalesurprise

                      Agree with Velntino's. Piero's in Port Chester is excellent as well.

                      1. re: scarsdalesurprise

                        I agree with your choice of Valentino's, and Scaramella's in Dobbs Ferry (although I haven't been to Scarmella's in awhile); but La Catena in Arsdley is horrible in my book. Four of us went 3 weeks ago on a Saturday night.We had the hot antipastowhich was LOADED with bread crumbs, the fried calamari was the usual frozen kind (no tenicles) and the cold antipasto stated that it included parmesan cheese. We called the waiter over to say there was no cheese in the antipasto he called over the owner who took my sister's knife out of her had and RUMAGED THROUGH HER PLATE to point out there was indeed a piece of cheese the size of a dime.How dare he touch her plate!!!!! The pasta entree with shrimp and scallops was COLD , the sauce on the chicken parmesan was so thickand bitter tasting that it could be used to apply wallpaper and the other 2 dishes are NOT even worth mentioning.Funny thing the waiter told us that the owner was from Scarmella's. We are a family that lives to cook and to eat out . Good luck La Catena there are too many other discent restaurants out there.

                      2. You have to try Cerbone's on 119 in Greenburgh. It's 2 doors west of Kmart, and I am confident you will enjoy!!

                        1. Feels like a night for Italian:

                          Port Chester: T&J's and Piero's

                          Harrison: Emelio's

                          Irvington: Il Sorriso and Buon Gusto

                          Mamaroneck; Piccolo Mulino and La Scarbitta

                          1 Reply
                          1. I see that Sra. Swanky, above, included New Rochelle’s Modern as a red sauce place to go. Modern has always intrigued me because of the food and digs. At one time Zagat had Modern in its listing of America’s Top Italian Restaurants giving its food a 23 but they gave the décor a 10 as they called the dining room, “drab” and “kind of a dump”. Yet that never seemed to bother the hoards of people that sprinkled the parking lot with their fancy cars.

                            That’s about to end though since Modern will be moving this fall to an 8500-square-foot old historic building on Huguenot Street, a space formerly known as New Rochelle Restaurant Supply. They intend to transform the building into a showplace that will accommodate 130 diners and 26 barflies. They say the food and pizza, will not change although there will be an uptick in cocktails and wine. Should be interesting to watch! They do have the greatest pizza. Oops! Don’t want to start another pizza war.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sonnyno

                              Oh wow - that's exciting. I'm going to miss the space though - I think the tight quarters and simple interior gave it a little something extra! I really hope nothing changes with their food - we loved every one of our meals there. I'll keep my fingers crossed! Do you know when they're making the move?

                              1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                Modern will move to the new digs sometime in October but there is no exact date right now. The interior sounds like it's going to be quite striking and there will be the same attention to take out with a special section devoted to that.

                            2. Don Tommaso's in Yorktown Heights is pretty good red sauce. The price are relatively standard for decent places in the area (entrees $18 to $27) and there is a nice mix of dishes. The seafood posillipo is really excellent and one of my favorite winter meals.

                              For decent but more standard (and cheaper) red sauce fare in the area, Little Sorrento's on rt 202 is fine.

                              1. Try the new Raccanelli's NY Italian on Central Avenue. It used to be Pizza and Brew (I think). It is beautiful inside and the food is delicioius. I have not tried Carlo's but I heard it is good, but the atmosphere not so much. Good luck!

                                1. Nobody's mentioned Rosie's in Bronxville?-- used to get top billing on CH!

                                  1. Shame on me for never having been there, but Lincoln Lounge in Mount Vernon gets a lot of raves for the old school ambience and food. Seems like this list contains quite a few.


                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jcmods

                                      We went to Lincoln Lounge the other night but they were closed. They are closed on Sundays. We should have called first. We ended up at Patricia's (the one on East Tremont) in the Bronx instead.

                                      1. re: GIOny

                                        The Chicken Contadina is pretty good at Patricia's ...
                                        boneless chicken, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives
                                        (the menu says black olives, I know), and halved cherry tomatoes.

                                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                                          That sounds really good, I may have to try that next time.

                                    2. Guadio's in Yorktown is a good red-sauce Italian. Huge portions too. Not much on atmosphere though!

                                      1. Ate here a few months ago, but wanted to put in a plug for Casa Rina in Thornwood. Had a very good chicken scarpariello on the bone and thought the cubes of parmesan cheese and olives they provided with bread beforehand was a nice touch.

                                        Portions are large, too, you definitely get your money's worth.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: kdgchow

                                          Casa Rina is a VERY old school place all round, and very GOOD at it.

                                          I'm not a Gaudio's fan... especially with the much better Little Sorrento only 5 minutes away

                                            1. re: wincountrygirl

                                              Thornwood, same people who own Goldfish in Ossining.

                                          1. re: kdgchow

                                            We love Casa Rina and have been going there for years. They are great for parties also.