Where to Dine on Christmas Day in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam: 2009 Edition

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From Chinese to Indian to German to French — you can celebrate (or not) in style without having to wash a single bowl. I’ve been compiling this list of restaurants open on Christmas Day for several years now, and I just re-confirmed for 2009. Am I missing some? Please leave me comments below. All the information, after the jump.

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By the time Christmas Day rolls around, some of us have had enough of sitting around the house. There are only so many board games you can play, after all.
Sure, most Chinese restaurants are open, but sometimes you want a little variety. Here, we’ve found classic French, modern American and bistro-style Indian. Plus, there’s the old reliable:?pub food.?Here’s a look at what’s open on Christmas Day.
Rockland
Most Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas, but Fortune Garden — hidden in the corner of a strip mall just west of the Nanuet Mall on Route 59 — is one of the best in the county. (We’ve seen Wasabi chef-owner Doug Nguyen getting take-out). Go for the walnut shrimp (crispy and delicious with a white sauce), the sesame chicken (not heavy like most) or the filet mignon, which is served with vegetables and a black pepper sauce. If you’re looking for a real feast, call at least a day ahead to request the Peking duck. Owner Steve Mui says it’s a busy day, but he’ll still accept walk-ins. 179 W. Route 59, Nanuet. 845-623-0058.

Crispy duck, prepared in a choice of Thai styles (in coconut milk, curry or a garlic-chili sauce) might be a suitable choice for Christmas dinner at the King & I in Nyack. Not feeling so daring? Stick to the pad Thai, a traditional noodle dish considered a signature here. The restaurant will be open during its regular hours of noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. It’s a popular place, so reservations are suggested. 93 Main St., Nyack; 845-358-8588, www.kingandinyack.com.
It’ll be hard to decide what to feast your eyes on at Mount Fuji Restaurant in Hillburn, the beautiful, sweeping views of the Hudson River Valley or the twinkling holiday lights and festive decorations. The feast for the mouth might start with sashimi, and move on to a hibachi meals cooked tableside. Other specialties include steamed gyoza; Sunomono Salad, a julienne of crab, shrimp and cucumber in a light rice wine vinaigrette and a big selection of sushi. Or go for the complete dinner, which includes a hibachi shrimp appetizer, Japanese onion soup, garden salad, fried rice, noodles, vegetable medley and green tea. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. 296 Route 17, Hillburn. 845-357-4270 www.mtfujirestaurants.com.

After long evenings of fancy meals at holiday tables, why not dig into some great pub grub for a change. At the Olde Village Inne, wings, burgers and pizzas (ask for well done if you like ‘em crispy) all are delicious, and fit the cozy, Irish-pub setting (check out the cool murals of the tri-state area and of Ireland). Tired of the holiday excess? Go for the avocado salad – lettuce, onions, corn and avocado with a feta dressing or the Inne Salad with Cajun Chicken — and feel smug that you’ve begun your New Year’s resolutions early. 97 Main St., Nyack. 845-358-1160.

If you’ve got a big crowd, head for the hibachi tables at U-Me Sushi & Hibachi, where 18 people can dine together and watch the slicing, dicing and cooking of steak, shrimp, chicken. (We like when they crack the egg to mix in with rice.) Some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes are steak with shu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), the spicy tuna roll and the Jazz roll, which has spicy tuna with crunchies inside and eel and avocado with wasabi fish eggs outside. The restaurant opens at 3 p.m. 237 W. Route 59, (Seaman Shopping Center), Nanuet. 845-623-3110.

Westchester
Nearly every Chinese restaurant in the region is open for Christmas, but how many have an aquarium of fresh fish from which you may select your entree? Aberdeen in White Plains, for one. Owner Ricky Ho will offer the full range of his Cantonese menu, and he’ll keep the doors open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. If you go for lunch, you won’t go wrong with any of the dim sum dishes, especially the chive cake, the shrimp shu mai and the pork dumplings. For entrees, try any of the whole fish and chicken dishes. Marriott Residence Inn, 3 Barker Ave., White Plains. 914-288-0188.

Ready for a break from all that rich, heavy holiday food? A spare, clean round of sushi might be just the ticket. Jason Koo, the owner of Abis in Thornwood, says he will be serving his regular sushi and traditional Japanese fare on Christmas night. (He’s closed for lunch.) Traditionally, it’s a busy night for the restaurant and he suggests making reservations at least a few days in advance. 14 Marble Ave. Thornwood. 914-741-5100, www.abisrestaurant.com.
At Amalfi in Briarcliff Manor, owner Maria Lenti decorates a big tree in the center of the restaurant and hangs garlands wherever she can. The regular menu is in play, but also expect specials of fish and veal and other Italian specialties. The osso buco is a very popular choice. 1112 Pleasantville Road, Briarcliff Manor. 914-762-9200.

Since he opened Aquario in 1993, Manuel Cabral has insisted on keeping his Portuguese and Brazilian restaurant open every day of the year, including Christmas. The menu will include the regular fresh seafood dishes as well as two to three specials, including Portuguese-style catfish with shoestring potatoes, eggs and onions and a luscious seafood stew with lobster, jumbo shrimp, littleneck clams, scallops, mussels, calamari, fresh tomatoes, rice and a touch of cilantro. The mural-lined dining room has just undergone an extensive renovation. Reservations are suggested, especially for Christmas Eve. 141 E. Lake St., West Harrison, 914-287-0220, www.aquariony.com.

At Bengal Tiger in White Plains, Christmas Day will proceed as usual, with a few specialties thrown in for good measure. The restaurant’s cozy interior — decorated with textiles from the subcontinent — will be filled with the aromas of Southern and Northern Indian fare that it has been serving since 1975. Sample the ever-changing offerings of the lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., while the evening (from 5 p.m.) offers a pair of choices. Select from the regular menu or the monthly specialties. December dishes are set to include Attirachi Olathiyathu (boneless pieces of lamb stir-cooked with slices of white coconut, spices, herbs and curry leaves) and Jhinga Maduri (jumbo shrimps cooked with a medium blend of spices and herbs with ripe mango and coconut milk). And there’s no need to call ahead, as the restaurant will observe its reservation policy (first come, first served) on this day, too. 144 E. Post Road, White Plains. 914-948-5191. www.bengaltiger1.com.

After the big feast at home, head over to The Candlelight Inn, where the mood will be as warm and casual as the rest of the year. The chicken wings are a trademark, so why not make them a new holiday tradition? Like ‘em hot? Ask for Chernobyl. The restaurant opens at at 8 p.m. No reservations, ever. 519 Central Ave., Scarsdale. 914-472-9706.

A turreted castle perched high above the Hudson provides an enchanted backdrop for your holiday feast at Equus, in the Castle on the Hudson. Request the Garden Room for lunch on Christmas Day — if you’re lucky, the weather will be clear, offering you views straight to Manhattan. Fireplaces make for cozy dinner dining in the Oak Room or Tapestry Room, which never feel crowded with a maximum seating of 45. Or, if you have a big family, request the Great Hall, which can accommodate up to 150 guests. Every room will offer a $85 four-course, prix-fixe menu. Pair your decadent meal with one of 900 bottles from the wine cellar, and if you think you (or grandma) might drink too much, just call ahead to reserve one of 31 guest rooms and suites — five of which come with a wood-burning fireplace.The five dining rooms are decked with garlands and festively trimmed trees, so it’s a very popular place. Book your table now; reservations are very limited. 400 Benedict Ave., Tarrytown. 914-631-3646.

Chutney Masala isn’t your typical Indian restaurant. The decor, with dark wood furniture and brick walls, is modern — but better yet, the food is, too. Chef-owner Navjot Arora is serving a buffet lunch from noon to 3 p.m., with a choice of three appetizers and entrees that include vegetarian options, chicken and lamb. For dinner, he’ll have his regular bistro-style menu, including a few specials such as Punjab-style baby goat and Papadi Chaat, a take on Indian street food made of semolina crisps and savory yogurt seasoned with tamarind and chickpeas. 4 Main St., Irvington. 914- 591-5500.

Epstein’s Kosher Deli in Hartsdale will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Christmas Day, serving hearty dishes like pastrami on rye and brisket and potato pancakes. Tired of all the heavy holiday food? Go for one of the homemade soups to soothe your soul. The matzo ball is a very good bet, indeed. 387 N. Central Ave., Hartsdale. 914-428-5320.

Halstead Avenue Bistro, known for its contemporary American cuisine, will be open for Christmas dinner from 2 to 9 p.m. The bistro’s dinner offerings include chicken-confit quesadillas, panko- and coconut-crusted halibut, veal and shiitake meatloaf, and butternut squash, spinach and goat-cheese ravioli. You also can get a burger, served with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and shoestring potatoes. 123 Halstead Ave., Harrison. 914-777-1181.

Take a big crowd to Kang Suh, the Korean restaurant on Central Park Avenue, and order plates of bi bim bop, bulgogi and kalbi – barbecued beef and short ribs. When you sit down, the group gets little plates of goodies called panchan (on a recent visit, they included Romaine with a garlic-chili dressing, spicy pickled cucumbers, al dente black beans with peanuts, spinach and garlic, fish cake with sweet dressing and mushrooms, kimchee and dried anchovies). Mix those up with your entrees – the Gop Dol Bi Bim Bap is good: rice and beef cooked in a stone casserole and layered with vegetables and a soft-cooked egg. Kang Suh, 2375 Central Park Ave., Yonkers. 914-771-4066.

It seems only fitting that La Panetiere would be open for Christmas. Birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated year-round in this charming French restaurant, tucked into an exquisitely landscaped corner of Milton Road, blocks from the beach in Rye. This Christmas, owner Jacques Loupiac offers a $78, six-course prix-fixe menu. The a la carte menu also will be available. Seatings for Christmas dinner will be offered between noon and 1 p.m., 3  to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Make reservations as soon as possible. 530 Milton Road, Rye. 914-967-8140.

When it comes to sushi in Scarsdale, everybody has been to Sakura. The blond wood and clean lines will give your eyes a break from staring at all those colorful blinking lights. Try the rainbow roll or anything with mackerel, order some warm sake and chill out. 58 Garth Road, Scarsdale. 914-723-7767.

From 600 to 700 people are expected at Travelers Rest in Ossining, where the old mansion is decked out with trees and garland, and a gingerbread house bigger than a doghouse is the centerpiece of the season. And if it snows, the illuminated waterfall makes the scene even more of a winter wonderland. Continental and German dishes like sauerbraten with dumplings or Wiener schnitzel are on the prix fixe menu, which offers a choice of appetizer, salad, entree and dessert for about $50. There are seatings from noon to 7 p.m., but the ones between 2 and 4 p.m. fill up fast. Route 100 between 134 and Random Farms Road, Ossining.
914-941-7744, thetravelersrrest.com.

At Vox in North Salem, owners Jean and Sophie LeBris hang hundreds of ornaments from the ceiling and there are presents everywhere — including in the chandeliers. The downstairs dining room is gold and red and the upstairs is decorated in silver. As for the food, there’s a three-course $65 prix fixe dinner with appetizer choices of lobster salad, oysters, terrine of foie gras, lobster bisque or salad; entrees choices of beef tenderloin, duck a l’orange, rack of lamb, crispy Alaska king salmon and pistachio-crusted halibut. For dessert, choose among creme brulee, floating island,  warm molten chocolate cake and peach melba. The restaurant is open from 1 to 7 p.m. on Christmas. 721 Titicus Road, North Salem. 914-669-5450.

With some of the best steaks in Westchester, the Willett House is always a great place to celebrate. On Christmas, the regular a la carte menu is available, but the restaurant is also offering some pretty spectacular specials: lobster ravioli carbonara or New England clam and corn chowder and a choice of entrees: glazed baked ham, pork osso buco, skirt steak, pesto-crusted Chilean sea bass and roast rack of lamb. A full dinner ranges between $24 and $55 includes, soup, salad, dessert and coffee. Reservations are available between 1 and 9 p.m. 20 Willett Ave., Port Chester. 914-939-7500, thewilletthouse.com.

Putnam
George Seitz, owner of The Arch, an elegant country restaurant that’s surrounded by woodlands and herb gardens, always likes to roast a goose for Christmas dinner — if he can find one that’s up to his very high standards. Ask for a spot near the stone fireplace and feast on items from his $68 prix fixe menu. Other options might include veal chops over pasta with chanterelles, grilled antelope with lingonberry mousse and pan-sauted fish with a white wine sauce. Leave room for the famous Grand Marnier souffle. There will be four seatings (between 1 and 2 p.m.; between 3:30 and 4 p.m. and at 6 p.m.). Route 22, Brewster. 845-279-5011. archrestaurant.com.

Ready for a break from all that heavy holiday food? Go for sushi. At Izumi, owner Rick Wong will offer his regular menu of signature dishes, as well as tasty specials like Bob’s Roll: cucumber and avocado wrapped with caviar and lobster tempura. Got a big family? No problem. The hibachi table can seat up to 20 guests. 1890 Route 6, Carmel. 845-225-8898.

Christmas dinner with Charlie Chaplin? Not exactly. But Jaipore, the Indian restaurant that was also a speakeasy, housed one of Chaplin’s studios in the early 1900s, and the comedian filmed many movies using the building as a backdrop. The 160-year-old mansion now offers several distinct dining rooms, all of them lusciously decorated with textiles and artifacts from the subcontinent. This year’s menu will showcase foods from all four corners of India, including chicken tikka masala (a layered dish made with various spices), malai kofta (vegetable dumplings in a creamy cashew sauce), and lassoni gobi (batter-fried cauliflower tossed in a garlic-tomato sauce). There are buffets for lunch ($19.95) from noon to 3 p.m.  and dinner ($24.95) from 5 to 10 p.m. 280 Route 22, Brewster. 845-277-3549. www.fineindiandining.com

You couldn’t ask for a more festive holiday setting than the one created every season by owner and Culinary Institute of America grad Mohsen Alameldin at the Plumbush Inn. He and his family decorate two Christmas trees and adorn the 19th century building — once the home of noblewoman Marquise Agnes Rizzo dei Ritii — with strings of twinkling lights. This year, the restaurant will offer a four-course, $68 prix fixe meal. You’ll choose from five different appetizers, such as escargots wrapped in phyllo leaves and dunked in garlic butter, followed by a salad and an incredible selection of entrees that might include Colorado rack of lamb or venison medallions doused in sour cherries. Indulge in one of the chef’s luxurious desserts, before enjoying your digestif in the cozy oak-paneled bar. Dinner will be served from noon to 6 p.m. Call now for reservations. 1656 Route 9D, Cold Spring. 845-265-3904. www.plumbushinn.net.

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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.

7 Comments

  1. Chutney Masala is Open Christmas Day
    Passage to India Buffet
    Noon-3pm
    $16.95pp
    Dinner
    5pmto 10pm
    (Regular menu with specials)
    Call 914-591-5500 to make reservations

  2. vox is open 1 to 7 on christmas day
    come and see hundreds of ornaments hanging from the ceiling
    check out the menu on the website voxnorthsalem.com

  3. Marie Carpentier on

    Thank you for supplying the Christmas dinner where to eat information. I am looking forward to a lovely meal at La Panetiere thanks to you. Marie

  4. Epsteins Kosher Restaurant & Deli in Hartsdale will be open from 11am to 9pm on Christmas Day. Located at 387 North Central Ave. in Hartsdale.

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