Lombardo’s Restaurant in White Plains, NY- A Friendly and Quality Food Joint

Lombardo’s in White Plains is a friendly and quality food joint that is a favorite of my work friends. I was here for a birthday lunch- happy birthday, Kathryn! I listened to Molly and ordered a salad… imagine eating only a salad for lunch. So not me. But the salad was fresh, tasty and fulfilling. Definitely a worthy place for my lunch money. Much better than the work cafeteria.


Farmer’s Market Salad with Grilled Shrimps: mesclun greens, dried cranberries, honey roasted pecans, red onions,crumbled goat cheese in a raspberry infused vinaigrette.

For a work lunch, absolutely! Next time, I will try the pizza.

Lombardo’s Pizza & Bar Restaurant
1203 Mamaroneck Ave
White Plains, NY 10605
(914) 615-9090

Centro in Greenwich, CT- European Thin Crust Pizza Wins

In ten days, I am leaving for Taiwan. I am going to claim the other half of me for a month. I hope to have inspiration and excitement to post engaging experiences from the other side of the globe. In the meantime, I need to finish writing the 16 posts that I have in the queue in a short and possibly boring manner…

I went to Centro in Greenwich, CT with a lot of work friends, including agency partners. Overall, the food is better than expected and above average. The appetizers, mainly their European thin crust pizza, are so much better than their entrée. So order the pizza when you are there!


Rigatoni alla Vodka: Prosciutto, peas, tomato cream sauce, crunchy bread crumbs.

Balsamic Mustard Glazed Salmon: Over spinach risotto.

Shrimp Splendido: Sautéed with tomatoes, basil, capers & garlic tossed with homemade spaghetti, topped with crumbled feta cheese.

Mixed Grill: Shrimp, chicken, Italian sausage, garlic scallion butter, roasted potatoes.

Grilled Skirt Steak: Chimichurri with roasted fennel mashed potatoes. Guess whose dish this is? Too greasy.  My original steak was not medium but well done.  In fact, they made a mistake in taking our large group order and someone (thank you, Jen!) gave me her “rare” steak that is just the right medium.

The restaurant is next to a stream with water flowing down a wall and over rocks. The patio overlooking the water feature was a selling point. The cocktail list was cute. Pizza was good. Should return.

This experience took place at

Centro
328 Pemberwick Road
Greenwich, CT 06831
(203) 531-5514

Pizza Village in Montauk, NY – Awesome Homey Food Under $20!

Day two in Montauk: After a busted beach afternoon on Day one, I went for a long walk/run on the Old Montauk Highway. Montauk is beautiful but is not the North Carolina Outer Banks. I need my own stretch of isolated beach please.

Luckily, I ended up at the Pizza Village in the center of the town. There was not much open on a Sunday afternoon at 4pm in the beginning of May. Pizza Village is the only one that was still open and serving food. Challenge: I only had a twenty-dollar bill with me and could not eat everything I wanted.

Italian Wedding Soup: after running in the 50 degree weather, a bowl of hot soup made me felt warm and homey. It was more than decent and it was hot. It was around $5.


Special of the Day: steak sandwich on a hero with red peppers. This was a pizza joint and I think it’s rather cute that they had specials for the day. This sandwich was awesome. The bread was toasted and crispy at the end. The steak was marinated in its own sauce plus the red pepper juice. The red peppers were still crunchy but infused with the same juice. It was delicious. This was about $10.

The food was much better than expected from a pizza place. Really homey. I would definitely return but do a take-out instead. The ambiance of the seating area has left a lot to be desired.

I still had $5 to spare. Time for desert. 🙂

Pizza Village
700 Montauk Highway
Montauk, N.Y. 11954
Tel: (631) 668-2232
Email: pvmontauk@aol.com

Frankie & Fanucci’s Pizzaria in Mamaroneck, NY – A Happy Spring Lunch with an Average Wood-Fired Pizza

An Italian friend and I went to Frankie & Fanucci’s Pizzeria for a quick lunch. My honey boo boo monkey bird has been going to Frankie & Fanucci’s with her grandparents for years and this was my first time there. Given all the tall tales I have heard, I had high hopes for Frankie & Fanucci’s. I like pizza. I like wood oven, brick oven, and coal-fired pizzas. As long as it is well made, I will like it.

As always, I started out with a Classic Margherita with fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes sauce, and bail. This was average. The crust was not thin and was not crispy. In fact, it was a little moist. My friend and I spent quite a lot of time talking about other better pizza places in Westchester or even the one down the street, called Sal’s (no frills pizzeria that turns out NY and Sicilian styled slices for decades).

Wood-fired Cauliflower: whipped ricotta, rosemary flatbread. This was also average. The aspect of having cauliflower at lunch was exciting for me but the execution was lacking in the whipped ricotta and rosemary flatbread. Very one note.

This entire lunch reminded me of one of my experiences in Fortina in Armonk where I ordered almost identical dishes: pizza and wood-dire cauliflowers. The satisfaction was high and certainly not average. See my post on Fortuna, click here.

I felt a little like an idiot for having selected Frankie & Fanucci’s to dine with an Italian…  However, the best part of my lunch that day was sitting outside for the first time this Spring with the sun hitting on my face. Happy Spring, my friends.

This experience took place at

Frankie & Fanucci’s Pizzeria
301 Mamaroneck Ave,
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
(914) 630-4360

Cristinos Coal Oven Pizza in Clearwater, Florida – A Mom and Pop Local Favorite

On the same rainy Saturday in Clearwater, Florida, eating became more important than usual to spare ourselves the boredom. My friend looked up this French Bistro, Salt N Pepper, and thought we could just show up and be seated for an early dinner. For two women from NYC, we thought little of the local demand. We were left out in the rain and got diverted to the next best thing down the street – Cristinos Coal Oven Pizza on South Fort Harrison Ave.

Cirstinos was busy. The parking lot was packed and people were standing outside waiting to get in. Luckily, they had a table for us quickly. If you think of a slightly larger pizza joint in an upscale town in Westchester, you will have Cristinos. The place was buzzing with customers, the ovens were hot, and the decor was outdated. A mom and pop shop for sure. But obviously, it is also a local favorite observed by how packed the dinning room was.


Garlic Shrimp: Fresh shrimp sautéed in a white wine garlic sauce.


Margherita with Prosciutto – Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, oregano.


Quattro Formaggi with Sausage Tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, ricotta, gorgonzola, basil and oregano.  Bad combo.  Ricotta was a very bad addition as one of the cheeses.  Trader Joe’s frozen Quattro Formaggi is better.

The toughest decision for me was to decide whether I should have the sausage or pepperoni with the four cheese pie. If I were to get a regular pizza from a pizzeria, Cristinos would have been acceptable. But as a restaurant, this is way below par when compared to Fortina’s in Armonk. It was certainly a let down from the French Bistro food to pizzeria pizza. I was just happy that we were fed and sheltered from the rain. Pretty low standards.

Here is to a sunny Sunday! Buon appetito!

This experience took place at

Cristinos Coal Oven Pizza
1101 S Ft Harrison Ave,
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 443-4900

Fortina in Armonk Take Two – The Fantastic Luigi Bianco Gourmet Pizza and a Dismal Singles Bar Scene

This is my third post on Fortina, an Italian restaurant in Armonk. The food is obviously good and made an impression. The first post was my very first try on this straight forward Italian restaurant that uses wood fired oven and pizza as the main draw. Click here to read the first post.   The second was on its new location in Rye, NY, as well as an impromptu octopus dish ranking.  Click here to read the second post.  This third one is focused on the new pizzas I tried.

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THE LUIGI BIANCO: burrata, robiolona, parmesan, black truffle. Best gourmet pizza. No need for any other adjectives.

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WOOD-FIRED CAULIFLOWER: hazelnut romesćo. Who knew that I would be such a fan of wood-fired anything?  The romesco gave the cauliflower the saltiness it needs.

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SPICY MEAT-AH-BALL: fontina, pickled cherry peppers.  This was my friend’s choice. The spicy meatball pizza is the second most popular pizza here. The crust is perfect – not too thick and not too thin.  Still slightly chewy in the middle like any good bread should.

Wood-fired anything at Fortina is always good.  Highly recommend it for the food.  However, the bar scene on a Friday night is pretty dismal for singles.  Should always go with a friend or family.

This experience took place at

Fortina
17 MAPLE AVENUE,
ARMONK, NY 10504
(914) 273-0900

Neri’s Bakery Products in Port Chester, NY- Zeppoles for St. Joseph’s Day on March 19th, 2015

Today is St. Joseph’s Day. My colleague, Joe, brought in zeppole treats to celebrate St. Joseph – his namesake. These zeppole treats were wonderfully delicious and authentically Italian. Here is what Joe had to say about St. Joseph’s Day and the zeppole.

“In Italy, where St. Joseph is regarded by many as their Patron saint, thanks are given to St. Joseph (“San Giuseppe” in Italian) for preventing a famine during the Middle Ages. According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time, and the people prayed for their patron saint to bring them rain. The rain did come, and the people prepared a large banquet for their patron saint. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph’s Day custom. It is traditional to eat a Neapolitan pastry known as a Zeppole!”

Did you eat a zeppole today?

The zeppole came from
Neri’s Bakery Products Inc.
31-37 Pearl Street
Port Chester, NY
914-937-3235

Fortina in Rye Brook, NY – Wood Fired Oven Pizza and An Impromptu Octopus Dish Ranking

I found myself in the Rye Brook location of Fortina three weeks ago during a freezing night in February.  It was past nine and the restaurant was empty.  The Rye Brook location, in comparison to that of Armonk, is much more open and has better parking options.  Fortina is known for the wood-fired oven pizza and its simple Italian cooking.   Click here for my previous post.  A friend I went with apparently taught the Fortina owner Social Studies in a Bronx high school!  Look at that – our inner City education system can actually churn out entrepreneurs!

Spicy Olives – Simple? Yes.  Spicy? Yes.  Need to spit out the pits?  Yes. Good snacks for in between dishes?  Yes.

There was also supposed to be Wood-Fired Polpo with white beans, olives, and salumi vinaigrette but I forgot to take a photo.  Usually, this only happens when I am too excited about the food or the situation!  The octopus dish was excellent, too little to share in fact. We ate it very quickly.  I am a big fan of the octopus in every which way.  Of all the octopus dishes I have eaten that are shared on this blog, here is the ranking:  #Octopus

  1. Salt and Fat in Sunnyside, NY (in squid ink. Yum.)
  2. Osteria Laguna Bar and Restaurant in Manhattan, NY (with white bean paste)
  3. Zero Otto Nove in Armonk, NY / Roberto’s in the Bronx (grilled and a bit charred)
  4. Fortina in Rye, NY (with white bean paste).  This post here.
  5. Buena Vista Bistro, Miami, FL (grilled with butter)
  6. Casa Mono in NYC (tapas and too greasy)
  7. Kalbi House in White Plains, NY (wok-fried with noodles)

This is the Spicy Meatball Pizza with Fortina, pickled cherry peppers.  Do you see a theme here?  We like spicy food.

A virgin mojito that is entirely way too syrupy and soda like. But it does wash out the meatball and the octopus taste from your mouth.

Would I return?  Absolutely.  We should always support entrepreneurs in this economy.

This experience took place at

Fortina

136 South Ridge Street
Rye Ridge Shopping Center
Rye Brook, NY
914-937-0900

 

Fortina in Armonk, NY – Straight Forward Italian Food, Cooked in Wood-Fired Ovens

Fortina is an Italian food and pizza restaurant and a relative newcomer to the Armonk restaurant scene. It opened in May 2014. As an Armonk resident, I watched people flood to the restaurant and I heard my friends’ reviews after they went there. I did not go to Fortina until December last year and was very pleasantly surprised by how good the food is and how vibrant the bar scene is.

I was there during a weeknight after 8pm. The place was packed with couples, families, and friends. First thing I noticed when I entered the restaurant was how many good-looking men were at the bar. That is not typical of Armonk. 🙂 I also noticed many good-looking women with their friends at the tables; now, that’s Armonk!

The wait staff was friendly and quick to respond. The music played was the 80s with large screen TVs on the wall. The atmosphere was very lively and loud. It’s not so great if you want an intimate conversation but it is great for large party socialization.

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Classic Margherita – tomato, basil, mozzarella. Since this was my first time, I wanted something simple and classic just in case they screw it up. I went for the margherita pizza. It was so much better than expected. Wood-fired oven is KING. The pizza was very yummy and was shared happily.

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Tortelloni – sweet potato, brown butter, pecans, parmesan. This was lovely. The sweet potato inside the tortelloni was just sweet enough to satisfy and left a desire to eat a second mouth full. Well done, Fortina.

Fortina really lived up to their slogan – Straight Forward Italian Food, Cooked in Wood-Fired Ovens. It was good. I would recommend it for simple eating and for meeting new people at the bar. 🙂

This experience took place at

Fortina Pizza
17 Maple Ave
Armonk, NY 10504
914 273 0900
FortinaPizza@Gmail.com

Osteria Laguna Bar and Restaurant in NYC – Authentic Venetian Italian Food that I Love

What can I say about authentic Venetian Italian food? When I was in Venice, what impressed me most was the grilled octopus from this little restaurant by one of the canals. But the most impressive was that I did not have a bad meal while I was in Venice; every meal was cooked using fresh ingredients and everything was made with care and love. Here I am eleven years later, I came upon Osteria Laguna Bar and Restaurant with my family during the holiday season by chance. Although Osteria Laguna is a well-established upscale restaurant in a prime location of the City, the food is not pretentious; the food is homey, high quality and even satisfies the palate of the youngest eater.

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CARPACCIO DI MANZO: Thinly sliced raw beef served with baby arugula, shaved parmesan & a lemon mustard dressing. Never was a fan of the carpaccio and was also wary of the raw beef. Raw fish is perfectly fine for me but anything raw from a land animal is something totally different. Nevertheless, once I get over the initial hesitation, this carpaccio was highly enjoyable. The combination of the slightly bitter arugula, umami from the parmesan and the clean-tasting beef was perfect. The textural contrast between the leafy veggie, shaved hard cheese crumbles and slightly moist and soft beef slices was perfect.

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POLPO AL CARBONE: Grilled baby octopus, grape tomatoes, corona beans, black olives & red onions. I am a fan of grilled octopus. I seek out grilled octopus in any restaurants. I pick restaurants often because they have octopus on their menu.  This was very nicely done. Loved the corona beans. The olives were a nice touch. Best part of this dish is that you get enough of the octopus to really satisfy the craving. Most restaurants’ grilled octopus only gives one tentacle and that is not enough for eating! That is sampling.

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This is what it looked like when the octopus was cut up and ready for be shared.  Buon appetito!!

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PENNE AL POMODORO E MOZZARELLA: Penne pasta with tomato sauce & mozzarella cheese. This dish may first appear to be nothing special but it is not. The youngest eater (and a picky one) in the group was so happy with this dish that she finished the entire plate. Let me be clear – the size of these dishes are Italian family sized. The portions are big. She said she could not stop eating because “it is the best pasta she has ever had.” How is that for an endorsement?

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RISOTTO GAMBERI E RUCOLA: Lemon risotto with shrimp & arugula. This is a superior preparation of the risotto. The acidity of the lemon really made it shine. Unfortunately, this was not my dish and I regretted it very much. Luckily, I was able to sample some for me to realize what I missed.

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RISOTTO AI FRUTTI DI MARE: Seafood & shellfish risotto with tomato sauce. This was mine. The risotto was well prepared but it was not the RISOTTO GAMBERI E RUCOLA. In comparison, the seafood one note and added no shine to the risotto. If it were not contrasted, I would have said that it was good.

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Crème Brûlée: This was the second best Crème Brûlée I have ever had in recent history. The best one is the Black Sesame Crème Brûlée at Cha-An; see my post here. In fairness, this was the traditional preparation for the crème brûlée. It was rather fantastic and I polished it off after having all the above dishes. No, it was not a small-sized dessert.  I am not a big eater and this really tells me how good the crème brûlée was.

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And we ended the meal with some good Italian cookies, complimentary of the restaurant. 🙂 Last but not least, the bread and the bread sticks were to die for. This was a very happy end to a Thanksgiving dinner substitute.

Highly recommended. Authentic Venetian food rocks. Will need to go back again myself.

This experience took place at

Osteria Laguna Bar and Restaurant
209 East 42nd Street
New York, New York
tel. 212 557-0001