| by Linda Viertel | An easy, short drive north or south of our river towns provides diners with a variety of culinary options during summer’s leisurely pace. Your trip along Broadway to new casual destinations is sure to offer the adventurous an engaging meal in a new river town
Sam’s Ristorante in Dobbs Ferry opened in 1952, and is still offering comforting traditional southern Italian preparations. Owner and chef Maurice Giliberti grew up in Dobbs working at the original “Sam’s” after school. And, after opening his first restaurant in Yonkers in 1978, then others, he realized this was the spot for him. “I stopped here,” he explained, while busily baking pizzas and calzone at lunchtime in his old-fashioned ovens next door at Sam’s Pizza and Take-Out.
Giliberti’s signature margherita pizza was named Best of Westchester in Westchester Magazine, but his Rustica, topped with flavorful broccoli rabe and sausage, or his Fiorentina delicately mounded with spinach, ricotta, parmigiano and fresh mozzarella bursts with the tastes of southern Italy. Wedges, calzones, garlic knots, and pizza combos (such as The Stinger, made with peppers, onion and garlic, or the Fisherman’s Catch, a healthy taste of the sea thanks to clams, anchovies, and shrimp, fly out the door. Young diners happily dig in to their portions of spaghetti or ziti with meatballs, ravioli, or chicken parmigiana. It’s that kind of place.
But it also features Sam’s extensive Italian menu, which delivers everything from chicken scarpariello to veal saltimbocca romana, grilled meats and fish, baked pasta standards, shellfish, and whatever your favorite pasta is with sauce prepared to order. Seasonal specials, written on a chalkboard and changed every Friday, complement a multitude of dining choices. In early summer, stuffed zucchini flowers are delicately fried, just enough so that warm provolone oozes out; crunchy and smooth textures combine, with a tangy tomato sauce served on the side. Pollo al Cuoco, a peasanty chicken breast dish is served with artichokes, peas and potatoes, and Red Snapper Delicato delivers zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and eggplant alongside a perfectly cooked fish fillet.
Everything at Sam’s is moderately priced, especially at lunchtime, when homemade soups, fresh salads, and hot or cold antipasti can be enjoyed all on their own.
An extensive variety of imported Italian beers and wines, draft beers and mixed drinks keep Sam’s bar hopping even during lunch. Two dining rooms, decorated with archival photos of Dobbs Ferry and set against soft ochre-hued walls, are watched over by an attentive staff, happy to keep Sam’s family tradition alive and well.
IF YOU GO
128 Main St, Dobbs Ferry
Tel: 914-693-9724, 914-693-2008
Mon.-Thurs.: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri., Sat.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Luncheons and parties available: catering on and off-site for 25-70
Complete take-out service and free delivery
Keenan House The Keenan Building (1878) at the top of Main Street in historic Ossining, has been home to a street-side restaurant for the past 50 years. But, something new has been added: a young Turkish chef/owner, Erdal Nehir, who is committed to his new American eatery and his community. Only in this country for four years, Nehir cooked at Turkish Mezze in Mamaroneck then in Chappaqua before a friend’s tip brought him to Keenan House. Nehir glows with enthusiasm about his new home. “I believe in America,” he said. “ I believe here there is an opportunity for success, and the system will protect my future.”
Gastropubs are fast becoming lively gathering places for residents, and Keenan House has already made a name for itself as one of Ossining’s convivial dining and drinking hubs. With 100 bottled beers, 12 on tap, and a knowledgeable staff to help customers make the right choice of brew, you can hardly go wrong. Try the Beer Flight and sample four drafts to find your own. Fourteen old and new world wines, bottled and by the glass, are on hand for the non-beer drinkers.
Now that summer is here, sidewalk seating is popular, as is Nehir’s Mediterranean-infused, American menu. Along with such appetizers as fried calamari, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and beer fried pickles, Nehir also serves bacon sushi (strips of smokey bacon wrapped around lean ground beef, cheddar cheese and drizzled with bbq sauce!), and a variety of tacos. But don’t miss his Mediterranean appetizer plate for an ethereal hummus, smokey babaganush and traditional cheese borek.
Fresh salads easily serve two, and traditional burgers are complemented by additional choices of a fresh salmon/herb burger topped with avocado, arugula and pickled red onions, or lamb burger topped with rosemary lemon aioli. For vegetarians, Nehir has created a sweet potato/black bean veggie burger topped with guacamole. Falafel and gyro sandwiches remind diners of Nehir’s culinary heritage. He’s also a great fry cook, as his signature beer battered fish and chips plate attest to.
Lunch at Keenan House is a special deal in more ways than one. From Monday to Thursday, 12-3p.m., customers can choose the Keenan burger, pizza, salad, or a choice between several of the appetizers served with a draft beer or soft drink for only ten dollars. All hours of the day are Happy Hour on Monday. And traditional late afternoon happy hours are a busy scene both at the bar and at Keenan’s sidewalk seating. Nehir offers discounts for parties of more than 10 and a Wine Wednesday, when wine is half-price all day.
Children enjoy the mini burgers and fries, pasta marinara, chicken fingers or mac and cheese; six “kids drinks” give them the options they crave. So it’s easy to see why families gather at Keenan’s. Whether Mediterranean specialties, American bistro fare, family-friendly dining, or a watering hole is what you want, Keenan’s is happy to accommodate. And, if you are interested in supporting local artists, you can purchase one of the many paintings on display. Now that’s community!
IF YOU GO:
199 Main Street, Ossining
Happy Hour: Tues.-Sun. 3-7
In-house and off-site catering