Hey! We are Aimee and Kevin Ellis,  here with the very first installment of our Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Fall 2012 experience. We are familiar with Yorktown because we both work near the area, so there was no need to plug the address into the GPS. In fact we passed right by my place of business, rounded the bend and voila! We found Don Tommaso’s Bistro Italiano, tucked away in a colorful little group of buildings off of Underhill Avenue.
Kevin and I decided for our first taste of Restaurant Week we would go for lunch. We arrived approximately 12:30 pm and the restaurant was empty. This turned out to be fine, it made for a more intimate atmosphere for the both of us. The tables were pretty close together, so if the place had been packed, there would have likely been a lot of noise and loud conversation. The décor was old world Italian with dark woods, checkered table cloths and quirky Italian music playing in the background. Our waitress was friendly and attentive. She gave us the HVRW 2012 lunch menu which had lots of typical as well as inspired apps and entrees.
We read over the menu while she went to get our bread basket. The bread was warm and crusty, very good. We both wondered if it was fresh made. While we chatted, the waitress busied herself setting up tables (for a party coming in around 2 pm, we overheard). There was a small separate area that would have worked great for a group reservation and I thought to myself – why they didn’t set up the party in there?
When the waitress returned, Kevin ordered first. He ordered Pasta e Fagioli for his antipasti and Chianti braised beef ravioli with cannellini beans in a white wine sauce.
When it was my turn, I ordered the beet salad antipasti (Barbabietole) and the Gnocchi alla Norma for Secondi. I’ve only ever had gnocchi once before and I remembered not liking it much. I wanted to push my limits a bit during this experience with HV Restaurant Week. So my taste buds were about to be blessed with at least 2 new flavors. The beet salad, I will admit, I was a little afraid of trying. The actual menu description of the Barbabietole was Roasted beets, baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette, pistachio, ricotta salata. It was visually appealing with deep purple-red beets against the verdant leafy greens. The dish was really vibrant both in color and flavor. I think it needed a bit more texture for my personal palate, but I enjoyed it regardless!
I tasted Kevin’s Pasta e Fagioli. I have had it before, though I don’t really recall where. Probably something my mother or my grandmother made at one time or another. Kevin completely loved the warm, creamy comfort of the tomato soup and the creaminess of the beans. He told me it reminded him of something his own grandmother used to make when he was a child. I admit, the soup was very tasty and I even dipped some crusty bread in there for good measure.
The Chianti braised beef ravioli was simply outstanding. It’s the best ravioli I have ever tasted. Kevin must have thought so too. He was very protective of his dish and was only willing to share a bite a or two.
Our waitress gave us a good resting period between each course. I don’t know if it was on purpose or if she was just busy elsewhere in the restaurant, but either way, it was appreciated. The beet salad was really large – I didn’t finish it because I wanted to save room for my main course. Soon she removed our antipasti plates and came back with the main course. My Gnocchi alla Norma consisted of home made potato gnocchi, eggplant, pomodoro, pesto, and grated ricotta salata. It smelled incredible. I cannot explain how tasty and rich this sauce was! It was almost like a paste. I’ve never had tomato jam, but this is what I imagine tomato jam would taste like. It was full of small chunks of tender eggplant and the ricotta salata was the perfect accompaniment. I thought the gnocchi was okay and I managed to eat some of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to take more than a few bites. I think what I’ve discovered about myself is that I have a texture issue. It was very soft and almost doughy. I needed a bit more of a crunch – I was expecting something firmer when I ordered the dish. Kevin tried some of the gnocchi and really liked it. No matter what my personal texture issues deny my palate, I know it wasn’t the chef’s fault that I didn’t eat this dish in it’s entirety!
Moving right along, our waitress cleared our plates and we ordered dessert. Our choices were tiramisu, gelato (Chocolate, Vanilla, or Hazelnut), sorbet (Lemon or orange), or cannoli. Kevin went with tiramisu and I, forever being a lover of anything lemon, chose the sorbet. We tried each others desserts. Kevin found my sorbet to be really bright and refreshing, I thought so too. After discussing it in great detail, we both thought the tiramisu was very rich and creamy, not at all soggy like others we have tried.
I have to say, we both thoroughly enjoyed everything from our meals, the service, the charming atmosphere and of course the company we kept. If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, we do recommend you stop in for a bite at Don Tommaso’s Bistro Italiano. Here, regret is not something you’ll have to worry about!