Chosen by Zagat as one of the best steak houses in Westchester County, The Willett House quells discerning appetites with scrumptious steaks and seafood. On the prix fixe dinner menu, starters such as lobster bisque and gorgonzola salad prime bellies for entrees such as chicken francese and a 10-ounce filet mignon au poivre coated in a peppercorn cream sauce. After lulling anyone who eats it into a content, satiated slumber, the 2-pound lobster (an additional $5) infiltrates diners’ dreams and pinches them awake again. As they finish off the table’s shared bottle of wine, each patron can choose from a tray of fresh, house-made desserts and wash down the treat with a cup of coffee or tea. Surrounding the main dining room, a pressed-tin ceiling and exposed-brick walls augment the 90-square-foot mural depicting life in turn-of-the-century Port Chester, when the seaside town still led the world in exports of soda jerks’ red-striped hats.
People running in and out of the doors at Ribs on The Run used to be a common sight. That’s because the barbecue shop’s previous location was strategically located near a train stop, and hungry riders would run over, order some of their favorite ribs, and then be out the door to catch their train. Though the number of people sprinting to the door has decreased since their move to a new location, their clients still maintain the same level of fervor for the house’s signature ribs rubbed in secret spices. To create hearty meals, chefs pair their ribs, barbecue pork, and wings with cornbread and a choice of homestyle sides, which clients can eat in house, pick up in the restaurant, or have delivered free of charge. Staff can also cook up their filling fare for catered events, allowing loyal customers to share their favorite food with loved ones on their wedding days, at family reunions, or on the day they finally tell their dog he was adopted.
Just beside the Bronx River, an early-1800's stone mill stretches above the water like the Space Shuttle perched hopefully over Cape Canaveral. The Georgian-style fieldstone building currently won't tear off for the cosmos, however. Instead, it plays host to The Olde Stone Mill restaurant, which makes use of the centuries-old timber posts and beams to create a cozy pastoral atmosphere, which is exactly what NASA first imagined to be the scene on the moon. The eatery's staff marries steak-house cuisine with Italian dishes, pairing pastas and veal francese with generous cuts of rib-eye and filet mignon. As a testament to the quality of this cuisine, Westchester Magazine named Olde Stone Mill's truffle ravioli the region's best in 2012 for its aromatic medley of wild mushrooms, cream, and truffle oil.
A goldenrod dining room, containing the building's original stone hearth, sets the scene for linguine twirling or tearing into porterhouse pork chops. Behind the handcrafted bar, bartenders pour glasses of wine and mix martinis, one of which won Westchester Magazine's praise as 2011's best twist on a traditional martini. Antique lanterns accented by spirals of ivy illuminate the bar's surface, and on balmy days, diners can retreat to the stone patio and enjoy their glasses of wine with a spritz of sunshine.
Wielding knives and sword-like skewers, the servers at Texas de Brazil seem prepared for impromptu duels. However, they only brandish the blades to replenish dinner plates, slicing meat from their spears at the behest of each table. The cuts of steak, lamb, and brazilian sausage are all slow roasted over an open flame in traditional churrascaria fashion—a technique that stems from the campfire meals of Brazilian gauchos, and one that fed the family behind Texas de Brazil during their life in Porto Alegre. In an effort to bring the South American style to the States, they established their first restaurant in Texas, thereby merging down-home charm with Brazilian spice.
Today, Texas de Brazil has expanded to several award-winning locations across the country. Despite the lofty ceilings and chandeliers that characterize their venues, the staff remains rooted in ranchers' habits. They conscientiously grill and season their meat, bake brazilian cheese bread in-house, and pass classic cocktails and loaner saddles over the bar for cowboys who consider chairs unnatural. To complement savory bites, guests can browse more than 50 gourmet sides at the salad bar—a compendium of soups, vegetables, and appetizers such as imported cheeses. They can also ask the resident wine specialist for recommendations on suitable pairings from the cellar.
The sophisticated eatery features an extensive menu of gourmet fare and fresh sushi for lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner daily. Start a decadent dining experience with an order of the miso-marinated foie gras, complete with seared big-eye tuna and truffle ponzu ($21), or opt for the rich Italian burrata cheese ($17) for your daily dose of dairy. Popular entrees at the eatery include chorizo-crusted Maine diver scallops with a salsify and lobster emulsion ($32), and any of the prime, dry-aged steaks, such as the filet mignon charred to order and trailed by an entourage of four accompanying sauces ($29 for 8 ounces). If a painful book-club breakup leaves you craving emotion-mimicking raw fare, indulge in Two's fresh sushi offerings, such as the Strawberry Heaven roll with spicy crab, fresh strawberries, and a mango puree ($18), or the jalapeño, cilantro, yuzu soy, and garlic-gussied yellowtail sashimi ($8).
Though still a young man, William Degel can trace his life story all the way back to Prohibition. In the early 1930s, his godfather owned Jack's, a Manhattan steakhouse and speakeasy frequented by movie stars and politicos. Stories of the restaurant's notoriety inspired William's own career path: he leveraged an early job as a bartender into the purchase of a rundown Queens saloon, which eventually gave him the opportunity to open Uncle Jack's Steakhouse. This fine-dining establishment was styled after the original Jack's, with Victorian touches such as pressed-copper ceilings, a hand-carved mahogany bar, and faeries only visible to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Now expanded to three New York locations, Uncle Jack's has proved so popular that William was selected to host Restaurant Stakeout, a Food Network program on which he helps struggling restaurateurs save their businesses. William often credits his success to a focus on quality, a trait noticeable after one glance at the menu. He handpicks all of the beef from cattle that are grown to the steakhouse's exact specifications on Nebraska ranches. The USDA Prime cuts are aged onsite up to 35 days, then cooked in 1800-degree infrared boilers that seal the meat's juices inside a perfectly charred exterior.
As with his godfather's place, William's restaurants cater to the city's elite. Athletes, actors, and local celebrities are often seen seated around Uncle Jack's tables, which isn't surprising considering the richly appointed dining rooms, paparazzi-repelling forcefields, and extravagant perks programs the restaurant provides. Birthday and anniversary reservations are rewarded with a bottle of Taittinger on the house, and the Lifestyle Rewards program lets members cash in their points for Rolex watches, Vegas vacations, and even a Porsche 911.