By Linda Lombroso
You can’t go wrong at Serafina. Whether you’re stopping by for a quick pizza before a movie, or settling in for an evening of cocktails, homemade pasta and grilled fish, you’ll find yourself swept away by the colorful warmth of this place, and a menu that’s terrifically diverse.
The dining room seats about 85, in a layout that curves around an expansive bar. Walls are decorated with brightly colored hand-painted frescos, with lighting that’s soft and romantic. And red banquettes line the back walls, offering some privacy for groups.
Serafina, which is part of a chain that includes five restaurants in Manhattan, is best known for its thin-crust pizza. Prepared here in a wood-burning oven that’s set directly behind the bar, pizzas are made in all sorts of variations, with toppings that include homemade pesto, Scottish smoked salmon and sliced black truffle.
Two people in a hurry can split an appetizer and a pizza, and get out the door in under an hour for less than $30. But it seems a shame to rush through a meal at Serafina. Linger for a while, have some carpaccio and bruschetta with one of their exotic cocktails, and you’ll get a true feel for what makes this place special.
What we tried
Calamari: Those who dislike calamari’s squiggly tentacles will be delighted with Serafina’s version of the dish. Here, they only serve only rings of squid, coated in a light batter and fried to just the right crunch. We dipped them in the spicy tomato sauce that was served with the dish — just perfect.
Porto Cervo: A nice-size salad, easily split between two, has a bright mix of ingredients: chopped lettuce, hearts of palm, sliced avocado, shredded carrots and kernels of corn, dressed with a full-bodied vinaigrette they call their “secret Sardinian dressing.” You’ll want to duplicate it at home, but the ingredients really are a secret.
Ravioli “Degli Innamorati”: Heart-shaped lobster ravioli, served spread out on a plate, are coated with a pinkish lobster bisque sauce that’s loaded with flavor. The portion doesn’t look that big, but it’s a rich dish, and quite filling, especially if you coat each bite in sauce. Pace yourself, or share it.
Pizza Alla Norcina: With so many choices, it’s hard to settle on one pie. This one is topped with spicy sausage, mushrooms, tomato and fresh mozzarella, with the kind of crust that can only come from a wood-burning pizza oven. They say their pies are single-size, but only a teenager could finish one of these.
Drinks and dessert
Cocktails are creative, and include drinks like a jalapeño margarita and a strawberry-basil martini. There’s an extensive wine list too, with many well-priced bottles from Italy. All the desserts are homemade, and feature lots of Italian classics, plus a dense chocolate-Nutella souffle, served with vanilla ice cream. Gorgeous flourishes make every dish a work of art.
Couples and groups, mostly over 40, and dressed neatly. During the week, there’s a big after-work crowd that arrives early and is gone before 9. Weekends, you’ll see more families with kids.
Pizzas are prepared using filtered water, in an attempt to replicate the water in Naples, Italy. Gluten-free and whole-wheat pasta are available; you can also request whole-wheat dough for your pizza. Olives on pizza are not pitted, so beware. Fresh mozzarella is made in-house daily.
What we will order next
The Filleto di Salmone (grilled salmon with lentils and baby spinach, with a Champagne mustard sauce) looks so good, we’ve got to try it next time. The pretty berry tart is definitely on the list too.
The Galleria, the City Center and stores like Barnes & Noble, open late, make it easy to extend a visit to Serafina. Eat first, then see a movie or a show, or stop in for lunch during a day of shopping.
The 411 on Serafina
Cuisine: Northern Italian
Entree price range: $11.50 to $29.
Great for: Big groups, date night, solo dining, take out, cocktails, dining at the bar, girls’ night out, meeting for a drink, outdoor dining (sidewalk), going out on Mondays, romantic, dinner with grandparents, small plates, special occasion dining, vegetarians
Noise level: Moderate
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Sunday; open until 11:30 Friday and Saturday.
Go: 199 Main St., at Court Street, White Plains. 914-288-9300, serafinarestaurant.com.
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