HVRW: Casa Rina of Thornwood

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Guest blogger Larry, posting again after my critically acclaimed review of Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry went live earlier this week.

I had to jump at the opportunity to author another blog on Small Bites. Restaurant Week is a lot of fun and it is something I look forward to every year.

While Liz and the LoHud gang were lavishly dining at Restaurant X in Congers, I decided to hit the pavement hard and fierce. I wanted to try a relatively unknown spot in an effort to discover a delicious dining establishment not yet introduced to a large audience.

I went to Casa Rina of Thornwood.

I was perusing through the menus on the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week website and I liked what I saw on the Casa Rina menu. The Casa Rina HVRW menu had a lot more variety then some of the competition. I made a reservation for 7:30 PM on Thursday night.

After parking and walking towards the foyer of the restaurant, I took a moment to reflect on the building itself. I couldn’t help but think to myself that I’ve never seen a restaurant with a one-car garage attached.

Anyway, we got inside and were promptly seated. The place looked like most other old school Italian restaurants. No draft beer here, all beer is served by the bottle. He also told us that most wines that were available by the bottle were also available by the glass. They did have a martini menu. In the spirit of trying a house specialty cocktail, I ordered the “Casa-Tini”, a cocktail mixed with grape infused Ciroq vodka, champagne and white grape juice. My girlfriend ordered the house Pinot Noir. The martini was 8.50 and the wine was 8.00 per glass.

The martini did its job, but I’m not sure it was the right match with my food.

For an appetizer, I ordered the Mozzarella Napoleon and my girlfriend ordered the Escarole and White Bean soup.

The Mozzarella Napoleon was a beefsteak tomato sliced ,layered, and reassembled with marinated eggplant, roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella.

I decided to disassemble the app and eat the components individually to see what the contributors were. The tomato was a little cold. The eggplant was almost acidic from the balsamic vinegar. The fresh mozzarella was delicious, however, and melted right in my mouth. The roasted red pepper was full of flavor as well.

The soup was good. It had a nice, nuanced garlic flavor without an “in your face, I just ate garlic please fear my breath” type after taste.

Upon finishing our apps, our tables were promptly bussed and our dinner was served shortly after.

In fact, service all around was efficient and pleasant.

My girlfriend ordered the Filet Mignon bathed in a peppercorn encrusted cognac cream sauce served with sautéed spinach and Garlic mashed potatoes.

As a practicing martial artist, I am always trying to watch my waistline; naturally I ordered the dish full of heavy cream, trans and saturated fats, and simple carbohydrates. I dined on the Percciatelli Carbonara tossed with pancetta, onions, cream and imported cheeses. I asked them to add some grilled chicken.

My girlfriend’s filet mignon was tasty and flavorful, but it didn’t cut like a filet mignon. It almost looked like roast beef when it was cut into; It was somewhat of a struggle to get the knife to cut through the piece of beef, and the texture was a bit stringy. The “peppercorn encrusted cognac cream sauce” was not really creamy, either.

The individual components of my dish were OK, but all together there was a little something lacking. Definitely filling, though.

We both had the chocolate lava cake for dessert. It satisfied my craving for chocolate. It was served with vanilla pistachio ice cream and whip cream. My girlfriend originally wanted the tiramisu, but they were all out. Oh well, we ended on a sweet note.

I’d like to thank Liz for the opportunity to contribute toward her blog. I’d also like to thank you for reading my entries, and I’ll be back for HVRW 2010. Perhaps even sooner then that.

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Guest bloggers are encouraged to contribute to Small Bites. To submit an idea, email food editor Liz Johnson at food@lohud.com

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