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


136 South Ridge Street
Rye Ridge Shopping Center
Rye Brook, NY


Trattoria Vivolo in Harrison NY – A Delight Every Time

My friend Lisa and I usually go to Trattoria Vivolo when she meets me at work for lunch. Trattoria is a fine Italian restaurant by the Harrison Metro North train station. Lisa is a friend of the owner and each time we are there, two glasses of wine are always waiting for us. Today was such a special day that I drank!

Back to the food. The food has always been excellent and consistent. It’s down to earth Italian food. Fresh, simple and satisfies. Trattoria Vivolo takes away the need to home cook Italian.

This is the beet salad, with almond chips, green beans, cherry tomatoes, onions and mozzarella cheese. It was so good that both Lisa and I wanted to recreate it at home.

Here is the spinach wrapped in eggplant. Much much better than how it may look.

And we concluded the meal with a always cheesy and thin Pizza Margherita.

Cheers to a happy and content life! Let’s embrace life with the same freshness and simplicity Trattoria Vicolo demonstrated. Salute!

This experience took place at

Trattoria Vivolo
301 Halstead Ave
Harrison, NY 10528

Zero Otto Nove in Armonk, NY – My New Favorite Italian Restaurant

Zero Otto Nove in Armonk is one of the new restaurants by Robertos from Arthur Ave in the Bronx.  I was so happy that it came to my neighborhood this June.  Now I no longer need to drive the 45 mins into the Bronx to get authentic Italian food!  Last Thursday night, I brought 14 of my closest work friends with me to experience this culinary delight.

Oh!  Contrary to popular practice and belief, they will take your reservation when it’s a large group to spare you from hours of waiting, standing on your feet.  Their phone manners were not the best neither were their waiters.  The waiters seem to not hear when you call them nor are they flexible enough to take your orders when you are ready.  It was just a weird experience with their service.  They pushed a lot of wine on us… Coming from my wine background, I know how much margin the restaurant makes on these bottles of wines.

Just thankful that the food was good and I delivered on my promise.

Polipo alla Griglia
This is one of our appetizers. For some in my party, this is the first time they ever tried octopus. It was grilled to perfection. The tentacles were still soft but slightly charred on the outside. Thanks to the reluctance of my friends, I ate so much grilled octopus that night. Hehe… probably the reason why I ordered it. 🙂

Antipasto Freddo
Mortadella, sopressata, finocchione, capicollo, culatello, marinated eggplant,ricotta salata, green olives & spicy Sicilian pecorino. Could not really identify accurately what is what but everything was excellent on this plate.

Polpettine, Polenta & Caprino
By this third appetizer dish, I was full. But the small meatballs were very juicy. I did not eat the polenta.. though it is one of my favorites.

Mafalde con Salsicca e Provola
I have to admit that I did not sample most of the dishes below but my friends were all extremely satisfied with their selections.

Chilean Sea Bass Marechiara
Can you imagine this fish at sea? Apologies to the vegan friend whose dish did not make the cut onto this article. Brocolli rabe and cheesed over cauliflowers just look awful in the photos.

Orecchiette con Broccoli di Rapa
This was a popular dish at my table. Multiple orders! The almonds looked crunchy.

Linguini al Nero di Seppia
A very yummy dish but apparently got beat by the pasta with truffles!

Looks like Ravioli to me… Unfortunately, I did not get the name of this dish. It must have been a special. Who had this?

Insalata di Barbabietole e Burrata
This was my entrée. The Burrata was divine. 🙂 Look at the balsamic dripping line. What a beauty!

Mystery dish. Gotta ask my friend Mike what this was. My guess is that it is Vitello con Cotechino. Should have spent more time socializing at the other end of the table.

Special – Lamb Osso Buco.
This would have been one of my options for the entrée if I had the room.


Kind of difficult to tell from the photo which one of the 13 pizzas on the menu is this one. But I know the friend had a smile with this pizza.


Special – This is the infamous pasta with truffles. Multiple orders at my table. Apparently for a friend, this was the best thing she has eaten since slice bread… Not bad but a little entertaining at the same time. Of the top of my head, I can think of some other items that are better than slice bread. Appreciate the enthusiasm though!

Risotto alla Barbabietola e Brasato
Risotto! Exclamation!

There was so much food and wine all night.  After a while, I stopped keeping track of what was coming and who was eating what. At the same time, the restaurant was pretty loud so it made rather interesting disjointed conversations between you and the person not next to you. Not much better for conversations between you and the person next to you. It was a sensory overload night.

The entire table also ordered dessert. I ordered profiteroles and sadly I was disappointed. Should have gone for the lime sorbet to cleanse my palate.

Would I recommend this restaurant? Yes, for its food. But one should not expect to conduct a proper conversation since there is no audio insulation built in. Perhaps go at a quieter time and sit on its patio, looking up to the moon in the night sky. Reminded me of Italy.

This experience took place at

Zero Otto Nove, Armonk
55 Old Route 22
Armonk, NY 10504
Call: 1 914 273 0089

Roberto’s in the Bronx, Authentic Italian Cuisine

My foodie friends from out-of-town decided on Roberto’s in the Bronx, NY.  This is in the Little Italy section of the Bronx where authentic Italian food is known.  The restaurant is so popular that they don’t take reservations.  So you wait and wait until you have a table.  We arrived at 5:15pm and waited about one hour for an early Saturday night dinner.

But the meal is definitely worth the wait.  It was excellent even for me who generally avoid Italian restaurants because the Italian food here in the states is never as good as that in Italy.  I still miss the fresh grilled octopus and calamari when I visited Venice in 2003.  A little restaurant in the tiny alley way with less than 10 seats.  It was everyday eating: fresh seafood with a glass of house Chianti.

Burrata plus Calamari
Burrata plus Calamari

This is our antipasti.  Burrata and Calamari e Gamberi alla Griglia.  The calamari was so tender.  The Burrata melted in my mouth.  Wow.

Roberto's Burrata
Roberto’s Burrata

Here is the Burrata again in its full glory.  The capers were a very nice touch.

Tubettini con Polipo e Fave
Tubettini con Polipo e Fave

This was my dish.  I am a sucker for Octopus.  I cannot help it.  I have been told that Octopus has the equivalent intelligence of a three-year-old child.  I am still eating it.

Coniglio a Doppia Cottura
Coniglio a Doppia Cottura

This is the 1/2 grilled rabbit.  It was excellent.  Not gamy at all and delicious.

Penne Melanzane e Provola Affumicata
Penne Melanzane e Provola Affumicata

This is the penne with mozzarella.  Simple but very excellent.

Pasta Special
Pasta Special
Roberto's Pasta Special, cooked in the foil
Roberto’s Pasta Special, cooked in the foil
Chocolate Gelato
Chocolate Gelato

Can you really come to an authentic Italian place and not get gelato? Or anything chocolate?  I had the chocolate volcano, pictured up top.

The meal was very satisfying from the beginning to the end.  I have also come to find out that they recently opened a sister restaurant right in my town, called Zero Otto Nove.  Guess where I will be going soon?  Thumbs up!

But before then, it’s time to exercise to burn off those pasta calories.

Roberto’s Restaurant

603 Crescent Avenue
Bronx, NY 10458

Via Vanti! In Mount Kisco, NY

Via Vanti! is a cute little Italian restaurant in the Mount Kisco train station in Westchester County, NY.  It looks a bit small when I first walked up to it.  Once entered, I was greeted by eager and smily hostess and waitress.  The vibe was easy-going and low-key.  The decor was modern chic with a heavy hand on the color red.  The place seems to be frequented by the locals.

The food was what I would consider as new Italian, taking influence from here and there, using in season ingredients, and preparing dishes that fit the palates of New Yorkers.  I had the Red Quinoa & Grilled Shrimp with chunky avocado and mango salsa.  It looked so inviting that I almost forgot to take a picture before completely destroying the plate.


This is Couscous & Grilled Vegetali.  As you see here, my friend already dived into the food before I had a chance to photograph it.  It looked very inviting and my friend polished it off in no time.

Via Vanti seems to be big on gelato and sorbet, claims to have 18 varieties daily.  The menu looks impressive.  I will have to try it next time.  It was a good night out.  Will definitely return to try the gelato.


Via Vanti! at the Mount Kisco Train Station
2 Kirby Plaza
Mount Kisco, NY 10549