Where to Dine Next: A Fall Dining Preview for the Lower Hudson Valley

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For new restaurants this fall, you won’t have to look much further than your own backyard. Neighborhood restaurants are popping up everywhere — and they aren’t leaving much room for the destination gourmet scenes of years past.

Take Baumgart’s, above. The long-delayed new restaurant in Nyack has a family-style history: it started as a soda fountain in Englewood, N.J., in the late 1940s.

Nemea Greek Taverna in Mamaroneck has its cuisine rooted in family, too: It’s run by the sons of the owners of Niko’s Greek Taverna in White Plains. (Those are the grilled lamb chops at Nemea, right.) And the owners of Bosphorus, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Hartsdale, had a family-oriented neighborhood scene in mind when they opened. “That’s why we’re here,” says co-owner Alex Goldansky.

To be fair, these new restaurants are not only about highchairs and kids’ menus. Sofrito, a sleek-looking Puerto Rican lounge, has opened in White Plains. Buddha and Impulse Hibachi, Asian emporiums with hibachi tables, have opened to crowds in Rye Brook and White Plains.

While they’re definitely adult, they have accommodations for families. And that makes these new places appeal to even more diners.

“It’s not the economy to open a restaurant unless it’s an affordable restaurant,” says Joe Printz, who is planning to open a small- plates wine bar in Sparkill sometime next year. “It has to be a regular kind of place.”

That’s just what the owners of Baumgart’s are aiming for. The restaurant, now owned by the Wu and Wang families, evolved to serving Chinese food — their native cuisine. But it has that neighborhood, family feel.

“We’re not trying to pretend to be a super-fancy or chi-chi Asian place,” says Irene Wu, the assistant manager. “It’s just a good family restaurant with good Chinese food.”

After the jump, a look at a bunch of new restaurants — or ones that opened in the recent past — you should try this fall.

Westchester

Bosphorus: Kebabs, kofte and schwarma, along with salads, whole fish and other healthy dishes, served in a colorful, comfortable setting with wood tables and a small bar in downtown Hartsdale. Partners Alex Goldansky and Necdet Kasimoglu have restaurant experience in spades: Goldansky owned a restaurant called Four Rooms in Moscow; Kasimoglu worked for 12 years at Turquoise in Larchmont. $$. Mediterranean. 215 E. Hartsdale Ave., Hartsdale. 914-722-2000, bosrest.com.

Buddha: A gorgeous, red-hued space with Hibachi-style tables on one side; regular seating and a sushi station on the other — and food available on both. The menu — like the eatery itself — is huge and varied, with sections devoted to “kitchen beginnings” (Thai crab cake, cold sesame noodles, edamame), “Wok & Grill,” “Sushi Bar Entrees,” “South East Asia, “Hibachi,” “Steamed Health Food,” “House Designed Special Roll” and more. Of particular note: the reasonably priced lunch special: two sushi rolls for $8.50 (three for $11), along with $8 and $9 Wok & Grill specials. $$$. Asian. 1 & 1A Rye Ridge Plaza, Rye Brook. 914-481-4651.

Capital Grill: Sink your teeth into a big burger in Pleasantville, made with a blend of half sirloin and half chuck. The lunch menu also includes big salads, tempting chicken burgers, and more. It’s also open for breakfast, serving creative omelettes, pancakes and other breakfast favorites. The casual, retro-diner style spot seats 50, and there are a few tables outside for outdoor dining. $$. American. 501 Marble Ave., Pleasantville. 914-747-7240. China White: The antidote to greasy Chinese dishes served in badly lit dining rooms. It’s modern and hip, with cream-colored leather chairs, white tablecloths and big U-shaped bar with a sea of paper lanterns hanging above it. It’s inviting and comfortable. But best of all: the food’s great. Executive chef Zhou Guang Zan strives to use organic, free-range and raised-right ingredients on his menu, including heritage pork, wild-caught fish and cage-free eggs. And his food somehow manages to be airy and light without losing its punch of flavor. We love the Bao Bao buns, fluffy steamed buns filled with sweet, juicy roast pork and pickled cucumber and daikon radish for crunch; the Chop Chop Chicken salad with its well-balanced soy-ginger dressing and the wok-sauteed prawns, which come with a silky smooth ginger-wine sauce. Chinese. $$$$. 578 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase. 914-437-9700. (Takeout: 914-437-9701.) chinawhiteusa.com.

Don Tommaso’s Bistro Italiano: A tribute to old-school Italian dining — which explains the charming checkered tablecloths. Oh, and the Italian music playing softly in the background, and, yes, the authentic Italian dishes on the menu. Don Tommaso’s is named after owner Tom Cuomo’s father, Tommaso Cuomo, who owns the restaurants Pizza Beat in Yonkers and Grappolo Locanda in Chappaqua. Cuomo, the younger, says the new restaurant blends the casual vibe of Pizza Beat and the high-end service and atmosphere of Grappolo Locanda. There’s a bar area that seats 20, a main dining area that seats 75 and an outdoor dining area that seats 24. Menu items, which start at $9, are all priced below $30 — except for the “Don Luigi” (a Fiorentina-style grilled 32-ounce porterhouse steak, with a choice of potato and vegetable), which costs $79. The restaurant also pours 17 Italian wines by the glass. $$$. Italian. 334 Underhill Ave., Yorktown Heights. 914-302-7900, www.dontommasos.com.

Hash-O-Nash: A Middle Eastern “country kitchen,” complete with a long list of Jewish, Greek, Lebanese and Jordanian food. The kitchen is open, with a wood-burning grill and smoker. Entrees include falafel, shawarma, gyros, hummus, shish kabobs, spanakopita and moussaka, all cooked by Mohammad Al Hawa, a chef with more than 24 years’ experience in Middle Eastern cuisine. $$. Middle Eastern. 441 Mamaroneck Ave. Mamaroneck. 914-630-7310.

Impulse Hibachi: The latest creation of Andy Lin of Asian Temptation (and other restaurants), is across from the City Center, and is offering communal dining at mod tables, while a chef prepares your meal tableside. The Japanese menu allows you to pick a meat — or mix and match if you like — and everything comes with salad, miso soup, a shrimp appetizer, vegetable, rice and noodles. Prices range from $13.95 for the vegetarian selection to $37.95 for the filet mignon, lobster tail and shrimp combo. There is a long red granite bar and leather couches if you want to start the evening with cocktails or appetizers, like the Thai Crab Cakes, Mini Spring Rolls, or Fried Calamari. $$$. Asian. 32 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. 914-285-1888.

JP’s Lounge at Le Chateau: The restaurant, with its French-inspired cuisine, is housed at a classically styled, historical manor that boasts formal gardens and sunset views. But with the recent opening of JP’s Lounge on the second floor, now you can add casual to describe the vibe, too. JP’s Lounge serves smaller plates — from minute steak with french fries to sautéed frog legs. Items on the menu cost from $6 to $22. There’s also a wine and cocktail bar in the lounge, which has dark wood floors , a fireplace and a cozy feel, more rustic than elegant. The room is decorated with caricature artwork of financial baron J.P. Morgan, who first built the estate in 1907. $$$. French. 1410 Route 35, South Salem, 914-533-6631, lechateauny.com.

Kira Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar: Sister restaurant to the Kira in Armonk, but with a little more atmosphere. The menu is very similar, too. (Yes, you can find Indonesian Shrimp Sambal at both Kiras.) $$. Japanese. 95 King St., Chappaqua; 914-861-2727.

La Scarbitta Ristorante: The name — a variation on the Italian word for “little shoe,” — describes the act of sopping up the last bit of sauce from your plate with a hunk of bread. And the chef-owner, Rosa Merenda, who was born in Puglia, Italy — and whose sister runs Spadaro Ristorante in New Rochelle — hopes you will do just that. She says that to her, “cooking is love.” Her menu changes all the time and there is a blackboard with daily specials, but regular menu standouts include the Gnocchi di Ricotta, made of ricotta cheese and a little flour to hold it together. $$. Italian.?215 Halstead Ave., Mamaroneck. 914-777-1667.

Little Kebab Station: Budget-friendly Indian cuisine is on the menu at this cozy eatery, which seats about 12 people and delivers dishes to patrons within a 10-mile radius. “I always wanted to open a small place that is affordable,” chef-owner Bonnie Saran says. “Because it’s a small place, we can pass the savings on to our customers.” Lunch specials are $6 to $8; and dinner entrees are $14 or less. Everything’s made fresh and packed in eco-friendly containers. Be sure to try the Bombay Frankie Roll (flat grilled bread wraps with optional spiced onions, eggs and mint chutney). It’s Saran’s most popular dish, and at $5, even the price is popular. $. Indian. 31 E. Main St., Mount Kisco; 914-242-7000; www.littlekababstation.com.

Little Thai Kitchen: A small, cozy spot that’s high on design factor nonetheless. LTK (for short) is an expansion of the chain’s restaurants in Greenwich, Conn., (on St. Roch Avenue) and Manhattan (on East 53rd Street). There are three other locations in Connecticut: in Darien and Norwalk, called Thai Spice, and under the Little Buddha moniker in Stamford. Expect Thai dishes such as mango chicken, drunken noodles, red curry and duck salad. Prices average $8.95 for lunch and $11.95 for dinner. We can’t help loving the straws (yes, simple plastic straws), which have the paper arranged like a white flower on top. The restaurant is BYO for now. $$$. Thai. 13 Popham Road, Scarsdale. 914-472-6600, www.LittleThaiKitchen.com.

Louie & Johnnie’s Cheese Steaks & Clam Bar: Imagine a Jersey Shore-style clam bar that sells delicious clams and fries — and has a nice cheesesteak menu, too. Now take the décor up a notch (a marble counter, red-and-white tiled walls) and move the location from the beach to Eastchester. Now you’ve got a good feel for Louie &?Johnnie’s Cheese Steaks &?Clam Bar, owned by John Greco and Michael Mannarino, also owners of Louie’s &?Johnnie’s Italian restaurant across from the Empire City Yonkers Raceway & Casino. The clam bar has counter and swivel-stool seating, with a scattering of tables on the side and an open grill where you can watch your sandwich being loaded with toppings. Greco and?Mannarino pride themselves on using USDA prime rib-eyes cut daily, as well as all-natural grain-fed pork from New York state farmers. You can also get burgers and fresh sides like corn on the cob, housemade potato salad and the ever popular — and much debated — “Johnnie fries” (topped with diced red onion, bacon and melted cheddar cheese served with ranch dressing) or “Mikey fries” (topped with chopped broccoli rabe, ground sausage and melted provolone). The raw bar features Little Neck clams, Blue Point oysters and jumbo shrimp cocktail. It’s cash only but there’s an ATM on site. $$. American. 33 Mill Road, Eastchester. 914-771-6161.

Massa Italian Restaurant and?Wine Bar: With furniture direct from Italy and seafood fresh from the markets, this restaurant promises coastal Italian cuisine influenced by the region of Puglia. Massa — short for masseria — means “farm house,” and you can imagine a country estate from the Puglia region, where the owners (the Coli family, who also own La Villetta in Larchmont) are from. The homey atmosphere reminds you of a cozy hideaway where you’ll swear an Italian grandmother is back in the kitchen. Entrees include Pollo Martini (chicken breast, parmigiano cheese, lemon and white wine sauce), Rack of Lamb “Scotta-Ditto” (grilled with garlic and rosemary), and Oven Roasted Muscovy Duck, served with an orange sauce. Pastas are also a big part of the menu. Bonus: a roaring fireplace, lots of candle votives and tables decorated with white tablecloths over blue and white checks (check out the matching pattern in your server’s outfit). $$$$. Italian. 2 Weaver St., Scarsdale, 914-472-4600; massascarsdale.com.

Myong Private Label Gourmet: At a 3,500-square-foot space once occupied by Q restaurant in Mount Kisco, chef-owner Myong Feiner is serving her healthy, Asian-influenced cuisine. Some highlights: Hudson Valley duck breast, braised short ribs, “Deconstructed Lobster Macaroni and Cheese” and Pacific Northwest wild salmon. The attractive restaurant, which seats 50, has an upscale, modern vibe with a bit of Asian influence. Paintings by chef Myong herself have been hung all around the well-decorated dining room, which offers a cozy atmosphere for patrons. But if you’d rather take your food to go, there’s still a cafe section of the business that offers the healthy gourmet items that Myong is famous for. $$$. Asian. 487 Main St., Mount Kisco; 914-241-6333; www.plgourmet.com.

Nellie’s Cafe: There are so many delicious — and interesting — aspects of the new Nellie’s Cafe in Peekskill, it’s hard to know which to choose. Owner Ginael Alexander — her grandmother called her Nellie for short — says the cafe is a dessert shop, where you can buy individual-sized desserts, cheesecakes, chocolate tarts, pound cakes and more, and she hope people will come in after dinner to enjoy dessert, or take some home.?But there’s also the karaoke. Sing a song for $1 at the public machine in the front dining room, or rent a private room, decorated as comfortably as your own living room, to throw a karaoke party with friends. And, as a companion of sorts to the karaoke and the dessert, Alexander ties everything together with a delicious pairing: a champagne punch bowl. She’ll mix champagne with juice and sorbet, the flavors of which changes depending on the season. $$. American. 1008 Main St. Peekskill. 914-930-7821.

Nemea Greek Taverna:?The kids are all right. As in the sons of the owners behind Niko’s Greek Taverna on Central Park Avenue in?White Plains. Brothers George and Nick Kringas, shown left and right at right, who used to work side by side with their parents at Niko’s, are now the proud partners (Nick’s the manager, George is the chef) of their own piece of Greek paradise: the recently opened Neméa, named after the Greek region where they have family roots and where most of Greece’s wine production originates. The brothers have formed KSXC?Restaurant Group — together with the Skeadas family (formerly of Mighty Joe Young’s), Demetri Xistris and Spiros Chagares (Artie’s Steak and Seafood on City Island) — and completely renovated the former The Post Bar & Grill. The new décor includes exposed brick, subdued lighting, outdoor seating and a sophisticated but comfortable ambiance ideal for sipping the house wine and nibbling on pita bread. The menu is true to its Mediterranean origins with spanakopita (spinach pie), keftedakia (meatballs), souvlaki (chicken breast or pork loin skewered, then grilled) as well as delicious from-the-vine salads. There is also a wide selection of seafood, sandwiches and comfort classics. The restaurant supports farm to table and sustainable ingredients when possible. $$$.?Greek. 599 E. Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck. 914-698-6600, www.nemeataverna.com.

The Patio: Sister restaurant to the Patio in Briarcliff Manor, with the same menu, from hot-off-the griddle pancakes for breakfast, to deluxe burgers for lunch, to traditional pastas for dinner. The cozy eatery has small-diner feel with its booth-style seating and casual atmosphere. $. Diners. 1 Bank St., Peekskill. 914-930-8050.

Pranzi: Though the name means lunch in Italian, Pranzi, the restaurant on the ground floor of Trump Tower at City Center, offers midday fare, dinner and a bar, too. The sleek ristorante is the handiwork of Robert Luiso, who also owns Churrascaria Copacabana in Port Chester. The back dining room is for clientele who want to enjoy great wine and a great meal, while the Euro-style counter up front offers panini, salads and Italian sodas. Chef Carmine Paglia is serving several signature dishes. For starters, try the Insalata Di Moscardino — baby octopus salad with peppers, olives, celery, parsley, olive oil and lemon, for $12. The Mediterranean black bass comes with shrimp, scallops and clams for $26. $$$. Italian. 8 City Center, White Plains. 914-328-4000, www.pranzirestaurant.com

R Patisserie Cafe &?Tea Boutique: Glittering chandeliers, comfy sofas and an antique-looking breakfront that displays a variety of teapots and saucers — all utterly charming. The pastries are brought in from award-wining French chef Jean Claude Perennou, formerly the executive pastry chef of the Waldorf-Astoria, and the macaroons are from Payard Patisserie in Manhattan. If the colorful macaroons don’t get you reminiscing about your latest trip to Paris, the pain au chocolat, fresh croissants and apricot tarts will. $.?Bakeries. 302 Huguenot St., New Rochelle. 914 358 1841, www.Rpatisserie.com.

Serafina: The restaurant is light and airy, and balances nicely between formal and casual: it has white tablecloths, but also playful, colorful murals of sunshine, wine and food. The Italian menu courts the same balance, with comfort-food pastas like mama used to make (rigatoni alla bolognese) and haute dishes like a thin-crust pizza with robiola and fontina cheeses and a healthy serving of black truffles. There’s great people-watching from the windows and from the patio on the side of the restaurant. $$$$. Italian. 199 Main St., White Plains, 914-288-9300, www.serafinarestaurant.com.

Sofrito: JR Morales — one of three owners, including former New York Mets star Carlos Beltran — has turned this White Plains space — formerly Peniche —?into a Puerto Rican restaurant and lounge with a substantial bar, two dining rooms and a lounge downstairs that will have live music several nights a week. It opened on Sept. 1, and the mod, island-inspired hotspot is already a fiesta. Executive chef Frank Maldonado has put together an authentic menu of classics as well as some from Morales’ own family recipes. You’ll find classics like Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice) and Paella (with meat or seafood) as well as signature items such as Pernil (roast pork with pigeon pea rice and sweet plantains) and Pargo Entero (whole red snapper with coconut rice). Want to order apps for the table? Morales suggests piononos (sweet plantains stuffed with beef) rellenos de papa (potato puffs with beef) or sorullitos (crispy corn fritters stuffed with cheese). $$$. Puerto Rican. 175 Main St., White Plains. 914-428-5500. www.sofritonewyork.com.

Taste Restaurant: Night owls are flocking to a chic new restaurant in Buchanan. Taste is open for the traditional dinner crowd at 5:30 p.m. — and it stays open until 4 a.m., serving a hearty menu throughout the night. Chef-owner Ronald Campanaro’s entrees, which are in the $16 to $32 price range, include crab cakes, Colorado lamp chops and a 14-ounce New York strip steak. The restaurant’s “small tastes” menu includes Korean barbecue skewers, Crispy Truffled Potato Chips, and Choirzo Mac & Cheese, prepared with radiator pasta, three-cheese bechamel, and a panko herb crust. The cozy restaurant, with a wood floor and a black-and-white color scheme, also has a full bar with comfortable upholstered bar stools. $$$. New American. 265 Tate Avenue, Buchanan. 914-930-7864.

Thornwood Ale House: The Sisto family — Karla Sisto, Mark Sisto, John Sisto and Danielle Noga-Sisto — have renovated the former Johnny’s in Thornwood, changing the color scheme to brick red and golden brown, but keeping those two great patios. The restaurant serves a late-night menu and a big selection of beers sometime next week. There are 60 bottled brews and eight beers on tap, including craft beers such as Captain Lawrence and Defiant. The menu, by chef Denis Viera, who formerly cooked at Harpoon Bay in Warwick, N.Y., includes twists on classic pub food. His spinach dip has white truffle and Mexican cheese, and his chili is made with venison and black beans. Don’t worry, the menu also has straightforward food, like sliders, hand-cut fries and even milkshakes. $$. American. 665 Commerce St., Thornwood. 914-263-1537. Find the Web page on Facebook by searching Thornwood Ale House.

Rockland

Alain’s Bistro: With a dark-stained floor, a big gorgeous clock and antique wood beams reclaimed from an old church in Pennsylvania — plus a bar made from its former pews — you’d never guess from the interior that this French bistro is in a strip mall on Route 59. But chef-owner Alain Eigenmann, formerly of Sidewalk Bistro in Piermont, has put quaint, cozy touches on this space, and then put together a menu of French classics such as roast chicken, onion tart, duck confit and, in winter, cassoulet to complement it. Expect fun flourishes and seasonal ingredients on the plate, too. $$$. French. 9 Ingalls St., Central Nyack. 845-535-3315.

Baumgart’s: Chinese food and homemade ice cream might seem to make for strange bedfellows, but the Wu and Wang family have had a hit on their hands since they first took over a Baumgart’s luncheonette and soda fountain in Englewood, N.J. in 1988. For the Nyack location, their fifth, they completely renovated the former Nyack Grand, adding an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor and a restaurant-bar. Signature dishes include Chicken and Pine Nut wraps, Baby Back Ribs, Chunky Chicken Salad Sandwich, Sesame Chicken and Jumbo Shrimp with Walnuts. $$. Asian and American. 65 Main St., Nyack. 845-353-3318, baumgartscafe.com.

Chickpeace: Yes, the name is a play on the main ingredient in hummus: chick peas. Max Miara, his two nephews (one of whom owned a restaurant in Israel) and his sister (a former caterer who worked from home in Monsey) are cooking up a storm at this glatt Kosher restaurant, where the specialty is falafel, served with hummus, parsley and spices. Another favorite dish here is shawarma, which is chicken in Mediterranean spices cooked slowly on a spinning skewer over a low heat. And the salad bar is sure to become famous. Order at the counter and pick out a drink from the coolers against the far wall. The atmosphere is spare, but clean and comfortable. $$. Mediterranean and Kosher. 83 S. Main St., New City. 845-499-2400 or 845-499-2500, www.chickpeace83.com.

Gilligan’s on the Hudson: OK so Gilligan’s on the Hudson isn’t exactly on the Hudson — the street gets between you and the river — but it’s close. The water is within view, and with wood tables, big windows and a mural on the wall of palm trees shadowing an orange and red tropical sunset, we can bet you’ll get in a beachy mood soon enough. Plus, Gil DiMola — the owner of this Gilligan’s, the one in Pomona and C&M Seafood in Pomona — has been sourcing his clams from a digger on the North Shore of Long Island for as long as he can remember, so you know you’re in for a treat. $$$. Seafood. 10 Grassy Point Road, Stony Point. 845-942-3966.

Jose O’Brien’s: Here’s a spot to watch a sporting event and enjoy a great margarita at the same time. Jose O’Brien’s has 11 televisions, and a drinks list with choice of 20 different draft beers. The menu includes the Two-Fisted Burritos, which are packed with not only flavor, but a lot of ingredients. Other popular choices include fish and chips, chicken, steak, shrimp, or vegetable tacos — and you can choose what type of shell and sauce you want. Owner Caroline Torres says she wants to “not only cater to everyone’s needs but to provide a comfortable atmosphere.” Perhaps the coolest (or should that be hottest?) part about the new Jose O’Brien is its own hot sauce, which is homemade and made from a secret recipe of four to five different chiles. $$$. Mexican. 1 Spring Valley Market Place, Spring Valley. 845-517-5001. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

Johnny’s B-B-Q and Smokehouse: Part Irish pub, part barbecue joint. Owner Johnny Smyth, a former bartender at Piermont’s Sidewalk Bistro, has snagged chef Dave “Fink” Finkelstein to man the smoker, and the menu shows it, with killer ribs that drip off the bone; juicy, smoky chicken; and bacon everywhere. Even the salads are stand-up. The wainscoted dining room is airy and comfortable, with banquettes lining the walls, dim lighting and warm wooden tables, and the bar, which can be noisy, stocks a healthy supply of Guinness, Brooklyn Lager and Smithwick’s Magner Irish Cider. There’s a late-night menu available on weekends, too. $$ Barbecue. 50 E. Central Ave., Pearl River. 845-735-3970.

Sandra Levy, Jeanne Muchnick, Jessica Rao and Latoya West contributed to this report.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is the food editor of The Journal News and LoHud.com, for which she's 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.

4 Comments

  1. We had a terrific meal at BistroTwentyFive in White Plains. Great food in a beautiful, peaceful setting overlooking the golf course!

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