Owner and chef Alain Bennouna uses traditional Moroccan spices and cooking techniques to create a menu of bold cuisine, which Westchester Magazine described as "incredible, hauntingly spiced food" when placing Zitoune on its The Year's 10 Best Restaurants list in 2008. Entrees of braised lamb and grilled chicken flood the senses with comforting aromas of saffron, honey, and ginger—ingredients that Alain regularly savored while growing up in Marrakesh.
Although Alain draws inspiration from French and American recipes, Moroccan influences definitely take the lead. In addition to serving slow-cooked meat and lentil stews in clay tagine pots, Chef Bennouna embraces the family-style aspect of his childhood cuisine by cooking entire 18- to 20-pound lambs for larger parties if given five days advance notice. The New York Times praised the chef's commitment to these homestyle touches in 2007, claiming, "Mr. Bennouna is in love with his native cuisine, and he wants you to love it too."
The food's vibrant eclecticism echoes the dining room's highly sensory decor. Copper-topped tables, arabesque tiles, and handcrafted textiles from Marrakesh marketplaces fill the sunset-orange space. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the restaurant invites belly dancers to perform, allowing them to sweep throughout the dining room and enthrall diners with their ability to recite the Gettysburg Address backwards.
Chef Lisan slashes a checkmark of sauce on a bistro plate. The sushi bar radiates with purple neon. Red walls stand stark against black lacquered tables, where bamboo mats tell Lisan's story—an upbringing in Tokyo and 20 years in New York dreaming of a restaurant just like Ginban Asian Bistro. An ever-evolving Omakase menu mingles Japanese, Malaysian, and Southeast Asian influences and presents everything from fresh sashimi to saucy filet mignon. After splashing soy on a slice of just-rolled sushi, patrons can retreat to the outdoor patio for a cocktail. The restaurant also caters parties of up to 200 people, or occasionally up to 201 people if the outlier can stay quiet beneath a friend's trench coat.
In an inviting dining room with exposed wood walls and tables that are candlelit in the evenings, visitors to Kashiwa Asian Bistro can enjoy traditional Asian cuisine as well as fusion dishes. Chefs fashion dumplings, pan-fry noodles, and roll sushi with ingredients such as fresh Maine lobster, mango, and white tuna. Dishes such as tortilla-wrapped duck rolls with hoisin and honey mustard sauce blend Eastern and Western flavors.
Fashioned from recipes culled from the owner’s upbringing in Southern Italy, Bellizzi’s authentic menu of gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, and Italian fare abounds with all-natural, organic ingredients whenever possible. Buoyed by ultra-thin or Napolitano crusts, or served crust-free as a circular mosaic of toppings, personal pizzas include the hearty Smoked Muzza’s medley of shrimp, shallots, pesto, and smoked mozzarella ($9.95), and the Bellizzi pie, which crowns its lemon-thyme crust with fresh veggies, blended cheese, and shaved parmigiano ($8.95). Sic taste buds on the eggplant rollattini and its trio of cheeses, fresh herbs, marinara, and mozzarella fresca ($9.95+), or unleash Excalibur’s gallant kin onto the Florentine steak’s 12 ounces of succulent sirloin ($22.95).
The mingling aromas of traditional Irish dishes and modern American cuisine emanate throughout the spacious pub, and a variety of American and European sporting events flash across 16 HD TVs. Culture-commuters can taste a bit of the Emerald Isles with authentic recipes such as corned beef ($15.95), or they can opt for globe-trotting dinner dishes such as the Cajun-seasoned swordfish fiesta topped with mango salsa and a balsamic glaze ($19.95). Open-air fireplaces thaw ruddy cheeks on the pub's outdoor decks, and gullet-warming wines and cordials keep bodies purring like air conditioners.