Food for Thought: Home Cooking in Dobbs Ferry and Tarrytown

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| by Linda Viertel |

Piccola Trattoria – Italian Home-Cooking in Dobbs Ferry

Piccolo--food-for-thoughtIn my dining room, everyone who comes here is family,” declared Sergio Penacchio, Piccola Trattoria’s chef/owner and Irvington resident. This August was his second anniversary in his Dobbs Ferry trattoria, which he took over from his brother. After a remodel, he fashioned his traditional Italian menu with a modern twist and a salute to his Argentine heritage.

Penacchio’s Sicilan father and Spanish mother settled in Mendoza, Argentina – the land of Malbec, where, he notes, “ Some of the best wines in Argentina come from.” His uncles still maintain vineyards there. Arriving in the States at age 19, he has been cooking here since age 22. He spent 13 years running his first restaurant, Pasta e Pesce, on Central Avenue in Yonkers. Now, his successful catering company, Chefs at Work, provides staff, tents and tables for multiple corporate, gala, wedding and residential events. But, the trattoria is his first love. “Here I get to be more creative and interact with the customers,” he says.

Sourcing from local farms is a priority. “We live in the Hudson Valley,” he adds. “It’s a perfect spot to make farm to table accessible to us. This is a small place, so it’s easy to change the menu and cook seasonally.”

Penacchio’s nostalgic memories of his nonna, sitting at the head of the table for Sunday suppers, surrounded by her 13 children and a raft of grandchildren, have informed Piccola’s style.  The charming 40-seat dining room creates just the right homey spirit to enjoy Penacchio’s signature in-house pastas: pappardelle con nocciole (house made pasta with butternut squash and roasted hazelnuts in a cream sauce) and the paglia e fieno con barbietole (house made spinach and egg fettucine with red beets, fresh ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano, olive oil and basil) being two of his signature presentations. Rotola, gnocchi, lasagna and pasta con le vongole – the more traditional pastas, all receive his masterly touch.

Piccola’s appetizers feature traditional favorites in Argentina, such as the provoletta alla griglia, grilled provolone cheese served with prosciutto and marinated chopped tomatoes. Calamari pepe, a crispy mound of perfectly fried calamari accompanied by  a spicy pepperoncini sauce, is enough for the table to share. And the unique polpetta al sugo, a large meatball stuffed with gouda and reggiano cheeses, also provides a giant helping for fellow diners to taste. Grilled branzino, prepared whole or filleted, is served with a garlic and paprika aioli. Bistecca, always on the menu, is accompanied by Argentina’s famed chimichurri sauce (a delectable garlic, parsley and olive oil mélange), in addition to caramelized onions and house potato chips.

The mostly Italian wine list saves room for Argentine malbecs and chardonnays from Mendoza: it is moderately priced by both the glass and bottle.

All desserts are home-made, including a traditional cheesecake, tiramisu, dulce de leche flan and espresso crème brulee. Farmhouse artisanal ice cream offerings, from Peaches and Cream in Litchfield Connecticut, include toasted almond, kahlua, mango and lemon sorbets, all of the chef’s favorites. But do try Penacchio’s signature creation – the mascarpone zabaglione with nutella and pistachios – if you have any room left, that is!

If You Go:
41 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry
Sun.-Thurs.: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri. and Sat.: 11:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.

Eatarry Opens in Tarrytown

P.-18-Food-EatarryWhen Henry Cabral and his wife Ana visited Mario Batali’s Eataly in lower Manhattan, they were struck by “a grand European feel.” Cabral, Tarry Tavern’s owner/chef, reveled in, “Cheeses, wines, pastas, paninis all available in a piazza –type environment. Seeing Americans do that inspired us.” That’s how Eatarry, their next-door venture to Tarry Tavern was born. But, Henry is quick to add, “It’s really Ana’s baby.” After 3-year old Ryan, of course. She is in charge of their joint venture.

Eatarry feels Italian, but with a local twist. Espresso, coffee, a dizzying array of gelato choices, paninis, home-made salads and pastries, Balthazar breads, and in-house gaufrettes for tasting are an eyeful.  Complemented by photos of our region’s historical landmarks, the Cabrals are crafting a casual breakfast, lunch and take-out spot that reflects both their heritage and their hometown. In addition to the fresh berry tarts, courtesy of Tarry Tavern’s bakers, look for hard-to-find all natural orange, pineapple and passion fruit Portuguese drinks in the future.

Pressed hot foccacia paninis, made with D’Artagnan heritage meats, Sprout Creek Farm cheeses (coming soon) and locally sourced greens from famed Satur Farms, have been created with local luminaries in mind. “The Rockefeller” is a tribute to David Rockefeller, who just turned 100 years old, filled, as it is, with some of his favorite ingredients: braised and roasted lamb, Sweet 100 tomatoes, olive tapenade, truffle pecorino and crispy shallots. The Lyndhurst features braised short rib, red onion marmalade and aged cheddar; while the Kykuit (the Dutch term for “lookout), combines heritage ham, Dutch gouda, caramelized onions and mushrooms.

Un-pressed “but nicely dressed” sandwiches reveal a charming twist in their titles as well. The Lighthouse, made with roasted portobello mushrooms, summer squash, peppers and goat cheese on a multi-grain roll is a veggie-based “lite” sandwich, hence –  “The Lighthouse.” The Philipbsurg, honors our local 17th century mill, with layers of smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, radish and red onion on a whole wheat baguette – hence “the whole wheat bread thing,” as the menu explains.

Soups this summer include chilled gazpacho and local corn soup – dairy and gluten free. The Orchard Street salad, a refreshing combination of kale, beets, apple pistachio and yogurt-cumin dressing, chicken Caesar, potato salad with caramelized onions, farfalle dressed with both a sun-dried tomato and basil pesto, faro salad  with corn, zucchini and olives, and egg salad with crispy bacon are made fresh daily from scratch.  All Eatarry’s dressings, pickles, potato chips and tapenades are made in Tarry Tavern’s kitchen.

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters provides the locally roasted coffee, and Johny Gelato, a father/daughter team hailing from Carmel, New York, makes the fresh gelato. Baldor, a specialty food provider, supplies local corn, blueberries and produce – everything in season – from its mobile market van, which stops by Eatarry every Wednesday.

Call ahead for pick-up, and look for delivery availability in the future.

If You Go:
25 Main Street
Fri./Sat.: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Mon.-Thurs.: 8 a.m.-6.p.m.

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