First Look: Piave in Hartsdale

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I tagged along on a restaurant review with my collegue Ted Mann of InTown Monday night at Piave, the new restaurant that took over the space where Cafe Meze used to be in Hartsdale. (That’s Ted’s salad above.) Paul Garbuio, the owner of the former Cafe Antico in Mount Kisco, bought the restaurant in April, and made some significant renovations.

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As you can see from this post here of the old Cafe Meze, Garbuio really cleaned up the place. Not that Meze was dirty — I just mean there was more clutter. The space feels more open and airy now. Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the bar, but it’s been expanded quite a bit. There used to be only a few seats — now there are at least a dozen. (They removed the coat room to make the room for a new bar.)

My favorite dish of the night was that of Ted’s wife.

Tagliatelle Bolongese
slow braised veal, lamb & pork, tomato-cream ragu ($18):

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It was hearty but not cloying and the pasta was cooked well.

The table started with Verdure Miste ($28), a selection of small plates. I liked the Sicilian meatballs and the frittata, but mostly it was grilled vegetables and a bean salad. It came on a bigger platter, and we doled out portions family style. For a small plate like this, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

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The meatballs were good, though.

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We also ordred the salmon carpaccio
thinly sliced raw salmon, avocado-cucumber salsa, honey grain mustard sauce ($9.50):

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I’ve never had salmon carpaccio before. (Salmon tartare I’ve had a trillion times.) I’m not sure it works. In order for it to be true carpaccio, it has to be cut very thin. But this is cut so thin that it falls apart on the plate before you can get it on your fork. A couple people at the table liked it because the thinness of the dish meant that the salmon flavor was less pronounced. I guess you could call it a salmon dish for people who don’t like the taste of salmon.

We also had Ted’s salad, Arancia:

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It’s made with orange sections, fennel, red onions, calamata olives & pignoli ($9). The combination is great — if a little unseasonal. I would go wild for this in winter. The pine nuts really bring it all together.

Ted’s Ravioli Aragosta
homemade ravioli, stuffed with lobster, roasted fennel, zucchini, in saffron cream ($19.75):

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The flavor in this sauce and the lobster was very good. Sweet and creamy, like you’d expect. One minor complaint: the ravioli were pretty thick and doughy. They kind of took over.

Chicken.
Galletto al mattone
brick pressed & roasted free range baby chicken, chefs vegetables ($20).

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Eh, not so great. Chicken was a little dry (I wonder if they have time to brine), and the bean salad was suspiciously similar to the one on the small plates course we began with.

Here was my dish.
Branzino
Mediterranean bass baked in a sea salt crust, grilled vegetables ($28):

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I absolutely adored the grilled vegetables on the side. They were cooked perfectly, and they’re all vegetables I love to eat: fennel, zucchini and, my favorite of all: artichokes. The fish was flaky and tender, but a little bland. Also, I kind of wish they could serve it to me in the salt crust. I think I would quite like breaking through it with my fork to get to the fish. (Then if the flavor was a little bland, I could just scoop up some salt!)

The restaurant was pretty busy, especially for a Monday night:

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We shared three desserts.

Tiramisù
espresso soaked lady fingers & mascarpone ($6):

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Tasty, but I’m spoiled by my friend’s recipe. He’s from Milan.
Cioccolato di Vesuvio — chocolate lava cake. ($7):

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Good but ubiquitiuos.

Crèma di Caramello
lemon and caramel custard ($7):

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We thought this was going to be our least favorite, but it turned out to be a very nice balance. Definitely our favorite.

If I lived around the corner from Piave, I’d make it a regular stop for me. I think it’s a perfectly respectable neighborhood restaurant. If I happen to be in the area, I’ll gladly meet a friend there. But I’m not sure it’s a destination restaurant. What do you think?

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Piave, 20 N. Central Ave., Hartsdale. 914-428-2400. www.piaverestaurant.com.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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