OK, so time to talk food.
We have all been to the overpriced, overdone, over flower-arranged restaurants in the area. But sometimes you just want to find that little spot that no one else knows about; that gives you true personal service; where the food is good (and affordable); and the atmosphere is lacking so much so it is just plain charming—the true "hole in the wall."
My husband and I went out Saturday night for an event and were driving through New Rochelle trying to find somewhere to eat. We stumbled upon what seemed to be a new restaurant and, from the outside, brought us back to our downtown Manhattan foodie days. The ceilings were lofty; the place was sparse and clean; it was crowded—what could be better?
Of course, there was a wait for a table so we sidled up to the bar, hovering over to see if we could score a spot. But...as we sat there waiting and enjoying our beverages, we watched the food coming out of the kitchen and realized we were not in a transplanted NYC-style restaurant, but just a more attractive version of the Olive Garden. The sauces were overpowering the meat; the portions were monstrously huge; and our excitement crumbled as we quickly finished our drinks (He downed mine in two slurps.) and rushed out the door.
We ended up at one of our favorite hole in the wall restaurants, which was just what the doctor ordered, and it prompted me to share a few of my favorites.
Here are a list of places where no one will greet you in a tuxedo; the menu won't be laminated and bound; and the venue will be small. But I can assure you the food will be outstanding; you will leave feeling more like you are a member of the family; and they will welcome you with a smile when the other larger, overscale restaurants have a 30-45 minute wait.
Gnarly Vine -This is located right on Main Street in New Rochelle somewhere in between a wide array of dollar stores, barber shops (which are suprisingly packed on a Saturday night) and too many Mexican restaurants to count. It stands out with its paneled exterior and purple interior and was arguably one of the first wine bars in the 'hood. The menu is a series of small bites that pair well with the wine listed on a chalkboard and are jam-packed full of flavor. There is always a good vibe here and a great spot to come before or after a movie at the Cineplex.
Who wouldn't love the Brazilian house music that plays when you open the website?
Gnarly Vine - 501 Main St., New Rochelle, 914-355-2541
Piero's - A lovely couple introduced us to this place only last week and I can't believe it has been almost two years and we have not made this a once a week tradition! There is no parking lot and the walls are half wood paneling, half mirror and I might swear I saw a few velvet paintings of Italy on the wall. Once I settled into the poetic list of specials our server reeled off, I was done. Veal Chops, Osso Bucco, Branzino—you might think you wandered into Grandma Luigi's kitchen. Added bonus: there is no TV in the joint. Ahhhhhh.
Piero's Restaurant, 44 S. Regent St., Port Chester, 914-937-2904
Rye Roadhouse- One thing I missed the most when I left the city were the options for Sunday brunch. Not the get-all-dolled-up in a dress and heels and go out for brunch, but the real down and dirty eggs/sausage, a burrito full of leftovers, and an awesome Bloody Mary kind of brunch. My husband stumbled upon the Rye Roadhouse and I must say I was a skeptic at first blush. A cajun slanted brunch with standouts like Poached Eggs with Homemade Andouille Hash, Bayou Omelette (with crawfish) and many steak and eggs combos. Bonus: they have an equally good kids' menu and the "rustic" ambiance and loud music means you don't have to worry about the kids bothering other patrons.
Rye Roadhouse, 12 High St., Rye, 914-925-2668
Spadaro -OK, it's kind of unfair to classify this under the hole in the wall category, but the small size, strip mall location and lack of a menu make it my personal fav. There are only 38 seats in the restaurant and getting a reservation is not the easiest thing in the world if you can beat out the crowds coming from NYC. Your server will recite for you what is on the menu and you will be left slack-jawed, drooling, and in a state of confusion over just what to order. The Spadaro's had a restaurant in Rome before moving to this location in New Rochelle and bringing their authentic cuisine and personal atmosphere to the current location The staff is so friendly and they actually seem to ENJOY their jobs and you will leave feeling stuffed, happy and like one of the family.
Spadaro Restaurant, 211 Main St., New Rochelle, 914-235-4595
Encore - How could Larchmont, the land of the Francophile, be lacking in French cuisine? Thank God Encore brings this French bistro to the neighborhood with true French comfort food. The lights are dim; there is a buzz of chatter in the air; and you are more than likely to be seated next to a French family enjoying supper and a glass of wine, Parisian style. The escargot is like nothing else to warm you on a cool spring night, the salads are perfectly composed and for God's sake, please try the Cassoulet!
Encore Bistro, 22 Chatsworth Ave., Larchmont, 914-833-1661
Now go get your mange on! Tell them Playgrounds, Pinot and Kale sent you and hold the Kale.
What are your favorite spots? Share in the comments!