Via Vanti! in Mount Kisco: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011

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On a cold rainy night in March, Belissima Blogger Donna Monaco Olsen (as I have been dubbed by my hubby), set out with two BFFs to have a local quiet meal at Via Vanti!. A lovely space reminiscent of an old black and white movie, set in the old train station in Mt. Kisco.  One friend remarked that they were looking for Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca to walk in at anytime.  The atmosphere is fabulous.  The train can be seen stopping or whizzing by through a small glass window on a door in the dining room. Although you are a stone’s throw away from the noise, it is not disturbing in anyway.  The visible brick and extremely high ceilings make for a most unusual and inviting space.  The lighting is dim but not uncomfortable — unlike the Lucite chairs that could be a bit comfier after a long day at work. They are certainly not conducive to lingering, but if this is our only discomfort then it is still a great place to dine.

The wait staff is wonderfully friendly and attentive and met our requests for endless amounts of bread, of the warmed ciabatta variety, to dip into a delicious mildly spicy olive oil.  It was so tasty and really hit the spot while we waited for our food. We even went back after our entree to dip into it again.

Only two of the three of us ordered from the HVRW menu and the other from the regular menu as they were undecided on a main choice.  The appetizer of Terra Rustico eggplant layered with wild mushrooms, goat cheese, onions and truffle oil was delicious and satisfying.  Sometimes when many ingredients come together they get muddled but you could taste each one.  The eggplant was crispy and not bitter or soggy, the tomatoes nicely roasted, the mushrooms scattered around the plate on some greens making them even truer in taste.  A well composed dish and thoroughly enjoyed by both diners.  It truly exceeded the expectations from the description.  The Caesar salad pictured off the regular menu was deemed delicious and had the right amount of dressing.

Eggplant Terra Rustica

Both of us ordered the Pollo Fantastiche, oven-roasted chicken stuffed with figs, pistachios & goat cheese with a red grape sauce and toasty polenta. The breast was rolled with a ground up paste filling. The chicken was a bit dry from the roasting and the flavors other than the pistachios were not evident.  Possibly walnut instead may allow the figs to shine.  The sauce was delicious with red grapes and it was served over dense polenta in a lovely presentation.  Chicken with grapes and polenta

Our other friend ordered the Lemon Chicken and mashed potatoes off of the regular menu. It was sauced perfectly and smelled of fresh rosemary. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

Lemon Chicken

Dessert was yummy!  The most interesting description I have seen thus far was Love Triangle Sundae-Featuring Zabaglione (the ingénue), Pistachio (the jealous boyfriend) and Amaretto (the Latin lover).  But we opted to try the Italian Donut Pie-rich dark chocolate and a scoop of gelato which was a fried ricotta fritter artfully plated with chocolate “wings” which was light and airy for being a fried dessert.

We also tried the Wine-Poached Figs with bon-bini almond shortbread rounds and white peach gelato.  The Italian homemade cookies (hopefully you can see their rustic beauty) were reminiscent of grandma’s Christmas cookies of days gone by.

My husband had the same remark before I mentioned that they looked like our friend’s mom’s holiday cookies hand shaped with the red and green sprinkled sugars on top. They were a hit. The figs were okay but not as flavorful as one would like, and they switched to strawberry gelato which detracted from the fig taste.  I think the original plan of peach would have been more suited.  In addition we ordered a non-HVRW dessert of a gelato trio, so we were treated to three more flavors of this restaurant’s unique, decadent gelato, coconut, caramel, and cannoli.  They offer over 18 flavors of gelato daily.

Via Vanti! is also known for its pizza and salads for a lighter fare.  Yet another heart warming thing about this restaurant is that they are both charitable and community conscious.  At the end of the night we were handed calendars of dogs for the Guiding Eyes charity.  The true presence of the proprietor’s (Carla Gambescia) beliefs are evident and it is a warm and inviting place.  It is a special and different restaurant that you will want to visit often and they offer many types of events, including music and wine tastings.   Thank you for a nice evening out with friends.  Hop on the train and who knows where it will take you!

The 411 on Via Vanti!

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