Celebrate Graduation Time By Dining Out in the Rivertowns

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Food for Thought

by Linda Viertel – 

What better way to bring family and friends together in honor of your recent graduate than with a celebratory meal at one of our appealing and hospitable local restaurants? Luckily for rivertowns’ residents, there is a plethora of eateries, informal and more formal, ethnic and traditional American, intimate and family style.

Dining choices abound, so when out-of-towners visit for graduation, residents won’t disappoint those from far away or even close by. Our villages are host to sublime wood-fired pizza, Korean specialties, plentiful Greek standards, traditional Latino culinary specialties, American, Indian, English fare and more. In fact, it’s quite remarkable that four main streets are packed with such a variety of dining possibilities. Perhaps, the graduate should get to choose a favorite, but the following might be a guide that allows for cuisine variety and having a large enough table for everyone to enjoy one another’s company and toast your graduate.

Sam’s Italian Restaurant in Dobbs Ferry

Sam’s in Dobbs Ferry

“Sam’s,” a local dining institution since 1952, offers authentic Italian home-cooking with a plentiful menu sure to please every diners’ tastes. Chef/owner Maurice Giliberti grew up cooking at Sam’s, and after a stint in Yonkers, came home to run his signature restaurant and his busy award-winning pizza and take-out spot next door. His traditional specials include veal saltimbocca and chicken scarpariello, but he also provides a vast array of southern Italian dishes, plus seasonal offerings and alternating Friday specialties. At Sam’s, diners enjoy grilled fish, baked pastas plus pastas served with your choice of sauce, antipasti, clams oreganata, veal parmigiana and so much more. Steaks and veal chops arrive hot off the grill, fresh seafood can be grilled or fried, stuffed or sauced. Pizza combos and specialty pizzas, stuffed calzones, and sandwiches are meals in themselves for lunch or dinner. And, Giliberti’s children’s menu will delight young ones with ziti, ravioli and spaghetti offerings.

Italian cheesecake, pastries, cannoli and spumoni still provide the perfect sweet to complete a meal at Sam’s even after ample lunch and dinner entrees. Giliberti’s dining rooms, decorated with archival photos of his beloved Dobbs Ferry, create an informal ambiance for family dining at graduation time, but Giliberti also caters, so customers can experience his authentic Italian cooking in a celebration at home as well.


Sam’s Italian Restuarant
128 Main St, Dobbs Ferry
Tel: 914-693-9724, 914-693-2008
Hours: M-Th.: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
F, Sat: 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Su: 12-10 p.m.
Luncheons and parties available: catering on and off-site for 25-70.

La Chinita Poblana in Irvington

La Chinita Poblana

Chef/owner, Juan Aguilar hails from Pueblo, Mexico, a city rich in culinary history where mole poblano sauce was created and which he masterfully creates at La Chinita. But, his presentations of standard, popular dishes are outstanding, unique and comforting as well. Customers are greeted with freshly fried tortilla chips and in-house salsa upon arrival. Aguilar’s “antojitos” (little snacks) aren’t so little and can be shared. Tacos, enchiladas, nachos, flautas and chimichangas can be ordered with chicken, steak, just cheese or vegetables, ceviche or pork pastor. But who can resist the huaraches, oblong sandal-shaped, crispy handmade tortillas topped with pinto beans, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeno crema and avocado plus your choice of filling?

For a nourishing homemade chicken soup, the Caldo Tlalpeno, redolent of cilantro, is brimming with chicken and avocado. A half-duck (Pato en Mole Poblano) gets the full Pueblan treatment. And, the Pollo at Tequila, a moist (!) chicken breast marinated in lemon and rosemary, and accompanied by fresh sauteed spinach, cilantro rice and an ancho chile-tequila, pineapple sauce, is a dexterously light presentation brimming with complementary tastes.

For dessert, La Chinita’s hot churros possess a delicate crunchy exterior and moist interior; they melt in your mouth, especially when dipped in chocolate sauce. So, whether your graduates wish to dive into nachos, empanadas and enchiladas, or others prefer traditional Pueblan delicacies, a table at La Chinita’s welcoming brick-walled restaurant, decorated with artisanal Mexican pottery, masks and archival photographs might just be the place to celebrate.


La Chinita Poblana
61 Main Street, Irvington
Hours: M-Th.:12-10 p.m.
F, Sat: 12-11 p.m. Su.: 2-9 p.m.

Tarry Tavern in Tarrytown

Tarry Tavern

For a classy yet informal graduation celebration, Tarry Tavern is a restaurant that continues to feature fresh seasonal dishes with a farm to table mission. While evoking an English tavern, owner and distinguished local restaurateur, Henry Cabral, has created a charming atmosphere, with fresh fruits and flowers on display, seasonal flowers gracing each table; rich cherry woods, ochre walls and copper pots contribute to the warmth diners feel even before their order has been placed.

Tarry Tavern’s menu gives diners the choice of ordering from either the Tavern  (Simple, Rustic & Traditional) or Market Menu (Composed & Seasonally Inspired); both showcase the bounty of the Hudson Valley as much as possible. Delectable appetizers include chicken liver mousse with grilled bread and cornichon, and duck Armagnac sausage accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes. Sounds celebratory to me!  Cabral’s Portuguese cultural heritage gets a nod with his Portuguese Octopus  chickpea puree, garlic and olive oil as a complement, not to mention his calamari stuffed with chourico in a tomato broth.

A signature entrée, luckily still on the menu, is the roasted potato gnocchi with trumpet mushrooms and crisped prosciutto. Another favorite is the melt-in-your mouth braised short ribs served with root vegetables. All pastas are made in house as are Tarry Tavern’s soups.

Or, why not have graduation lunch and try Cabral’s Wagyu burger with hand-cut fries? Handmade raviolis, a plentiful Cobb salad or a pulled pork sandwich all give a festive air for a mid-day meal. Everyone loves brunch, especially in celebration, and Tarry Tavern not only offers Eggs Benedict, buttermilk pancakes and brioche French toast, but truffled “mac & cheese,” soft poached eggs and creamy polenta and so much more. To the graduate!


Tarry Tavern
27 Main Street
Hours: M-Th: Noon-9:30 p.m.
F, Sat.: Noon-10:30 p.m.
Su: Noon-9 p.m.

Anchor Inn in Sleepy Hollow

Honor your graduate this June by dining al fresco with a view to our beloved Hudson River on Anchor Inn’s rooftop deck (weather permitting) at the base of Sleepy Hollow’s Beekman Avenue. New chef, Milton Sanz, hired this spring by owners Molinda Kearns and Gary Serina, hails from The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry where he was mentored by famed local restaurateur, David diBari. Their newly revised menu features South American culinary specialties, tapas-styled appetizers and Argentinian steakhouse flavors.

Multiple tastes for starters include
coconut shrimp, crispy calamari, cornbread hushpuppies – served with a smoky spicy chipotle sauce, sautéed mussels and garlic shrimp. Dinner features both steaks and seafood. The Argentinian specialty, Steak Chimichurri, the iconic grilled flank steak is served with cippolini, whipped potatoes and the divine garlic, parsley, olive oil chimichurri sauce made in-house. Linguini a la Anchor (sauteed clams and mussels in a garlic, white wine sauce) can be prepared vegetarian style. With a nod to the original seafood restaurant, crabcakes, fish and chips and seafood risotto are featured. But, “turf” gets equal play to “surf” on the menu with a pulled pork sandwich or grilled pork chops accompanied by charred peaches, sauteed rapini and roasted potatoes.

Weekend brunch next to the Hudson River can be a glorious dining experience. Create your own omelet, or enjoy the Anchor BLT (by adding salmon if you wish), or the signature chopped steak sandwich made with braised short ribs, ground chuck, applewood bacon, lettuce and cheese. Graduates and their families will be treated to tasty food and a view to match.


Anchor Inn
222 Beekman Ave.
Hours: M, W, TH: 4-9 p.m.
F, Sat, Su 3-10 p.m.
Brunch: Sat-Su 11-3 p.m.
M, W, Thu, F Happy Hour 3-7 p.m.
Tasting Menu Sun-Th: $19.95
FB: @hudsonanchor
Instagram: #hudsonanchor
Private second floor dining available.

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