I woke up to a text on my phone from a chef (who shall remain nameless): “Best Italian restaurant in Westchester: Italian Kitchen.” That’s a mighty bit of praise to heap on chef Shea Gallante, known for Ciano, his farm-to-fork restaurant in Manhattan. His Italian Kitchen in Ardsley has been open less than a fortnight, but it’s already one of the hottest tables in town.
The restaurant is small and casual with sunny painted walls and a rustic interior complete with bookshelves holding cookbooks and assorted kitchen essentials.
Gallante, who lives in Ardsley, says the whole endeavor “just happened.” He wasn’t looking to open a restaurant but the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. Giuseppe’s, the old-school Italian eatery that had been in this location since 1968, was looking for a new owner. “A lot of the parameters of running a restaurant were in the right place,” he says.
Gallante spearheaded the design of the restaurant using recycled wood gathered from Dutchess County, where he grew up. Classic wooden tables (no tablecloths) and kitchen-towel napkins keep the place simple but charming. The restaurant can comfortably hold 55 seats, and the space is divided into three different sections: a 25-seat front dining room, central bar and 30-seat rear dining area.
CIA trained Executive Chef Paul Mancebo will be running the kitchen (he has worked with Gallante at Ciano) and offers a compact menu boasting a wide variety of small and large plate options that highlight the best available ingredients of the season. Diners can expect dishes like grilled filet of bass with tomato, black olives, roasted hanger steak with polenta, caramelized onions and radicchio as well as Gallante’s widely popular grilled pizzas including robiola with speck and arugula; pecorino, guanciale, pesto and smoked onions; and quattro formaggi: fontina, parmigiano, ricotta .
About 30 different wine offerings round out the menu. Gallante’s future plans call for wine dinners presenting lesser known bottles and vintages and a specially designed dinner menu for one Sunday a month.
698 Saw Mill River Road, Ardsley. 914-693-5400; ik-ny.com.
Jeanne Muchnick contributed.