Two of the biggest smiles in the business come from the dynamic husband and wife duo of Scott and Heather Frantangelo. Opening their first venture (aptly named L’inizio meaning start or beginning) in Westchester after a very successful ten year run with their restaurant in Manhattan-Spigolo, this 7 week young newbie packs a lot of punch. As seen on SmallBites.
Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here, co-coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for Westchester Community College to share with you from a wonderful meal during HVRW 2014. All classes are held within Westchester restaurants, where local chefs share their talents and recipes with us in their own dining rooms. All demonstration classes are listed here. Chefs Scott and Heather promise to do a class this fall sharing their knowledge so watch for the announcement.
For me growing up in Ardsley and dining in this tiny spot for many years as Guiseppe’s I needed to experience the space again. The village seems the same except for the fabulous addition of this restaurant with a NYC feel. Although still small in stature the food and service deliver in a BIG way! Even though we were there to try the HVRW menu everything was too tempting so we also had to try a few specials and regular menu items to round out our meal (and us)!
A bit of history behind this creative and knowledgeable staff within-our waiter Tim came from Harvest on the Hudson where Chef Scott had been doing some amazing things up until a few months ago when he took on his new adventure. Glad Scott brought him along as he is an asset to this hot spot with great things coming out of the kitchen. Tim can describe the ingredients and preparation almost as well as the creator himself. He described the pasta special so perfectly that we had to try it. Made with delectable pieces of beer braised pork in a light broth with small diced vegetables, including chilies, served over spaghetti this dish was amazing. By the way the farmer who supplied the pig was at the next table dining on the same dish, bringing new meaning to “farm-to-table”.
The homemade herb bread sticks are made on site and are addictive. Had we known how many things we were going to try maybe we would have had a few less-nahhhhh!
The dishes in bold type face were from the HVRW menu. The only additional item not tried was this beef dish, tomato braised beef chuck with sauteed escarole and horseradish gremolata which we are sure is equally delicious.
Pictured at the top of this post-House made pork sausage, brussels sprout leaves and pomegranate made for a great spicy sweet combination. The sprout leaves were bright green and fresh tasting offset by the tartness of the pomegranate jewels.
Shaved Celery and green apple salad with Medjool dates, sweet Gorgonzola and walnuts made for a winning combination embarking on a classic duo from the saltiness of the crisp celery and sweetness of the apple.
Tuscan Risotto with mushrooms, truffle paste and Parmigiano was a warm and earthy start to our feast.
Chicken Liver Pate, Crisp Crostini, Sage and Pear Chutney from the regular menu was amazing creating a lovely combination using pears and mustard seeds that popped in your mouth with each bite.
Charred octopus, cannellini beans, celery and preserved lemon was a special treat from Chef Scott. My husband was over the top thrilled as he is truly a big fan and partakes whenever it is offered on a menu. Absolutely one of the most tender octopus he has tried, our knowledgeable waiter told us that it is confit in olive oil and lemons to tenderize it and then grilled for flavor. The preserved lemon rind gives it just the right balance and the celery leaves add an earthy saltiness to the creamy beans.
Hemlock Hills (local HV farm) free range chicken with buckwheat polenta, honey roasted root vegetables and hazelnuts. The chicken was extremely flavorful and a generous portion with veggies. Having the nuttiness of the hazelnuts added to the creamy polenta. The black flakes are cracked pepper, although I am a big fan, if you are not ask the chef to go lightly as there is a good amount in many of the dishes.
Herb Crusted Atlantic Cod with cannellini bean puree, charred radicchio and olive vinaigrette. This was not our favorite of the combinations put forth due to the bitterness of both the radicchio and the olive tapenade but the fish was prepared perfectly and the bean puree lovely.
Each dessert is prepared by Heather who is a trained pastry chef and we tried four in all. Each one was lighter tasting than the next. My husband and I are not dessert folk-we would order an extra appetizer long before ordering dessert on most occasions. We recommend that you order the whole dessert menu at L’inizio as it is way to difficult to decide!
New York cheesecake in a jar with pomegranate reduction and seeds along with a crisp tuile was creamy and flavorful. The graham crumbs are house made and balanced the lovely mouthfeel of the creamy and light cheesecake layers along with the tartness of the pomegranate pearls.
Bomboloni “Italian doughnuts” in cinnamon sugar were pillows of warmth usually served with a luscious coffee panna cotta. The next table could smell them being delivered and were swayed into both ordering them with a cappuccino. Heather told me that on this night Scott had actually made them and they were heavenly.
Chocolate Souffle Tart with Nutella Semifreddo had a crisp thin crust-so thin almost impossible to contain the lovely chocolate trying to break its walls. The center of the Nutella contained frozen whipped cream. The exterior of the tart was slightly crisp and chewy like the top of a brownie-the chocolate inside warm, runny and delicious.
Date Pudding with Blood Orange, and Mascarpone was a favorite. Usually date cake is dense and sticky neither of which this was. It is airy and flavorful with a beautiful rum sauce.
Go to: L’Inizio 698 Saw Mill River Road, Ardsley, NY 10502, 914-693-5400