John Gizzi and Diann Greco, the American Wine Society?certified wine judges at Make Wine With Us, teach wine aficionados to create their own wines using grapes harvested in Californian and Chilean vineyards. At the start of the nine-month process (California grapes in the fall, Chile grapes in the spring), winemakers-to-be assemble with fellow enthusiasts to learn the intricacies of the trade. Patrons learn to crush and destem grapes in a machine called a crusher-destemmer, named after the device's favorite Germanic metal band. Following the crushing process, a hydraulic press forces juice into barrels, where it shall remain until the conclusion of its sweet, sweet metamorphosis.
At the end of the nine-month period, newly minted winemakers lean on family and friends to fill, cork, and custom-label the finished product. Budding vintners then tote home their vintages to share with family, friends, and robot butlers with built-in carafes.
La Panetière's elegant cuisine works its way into not only the stomachs but the hearts of those who dine within the restaurant's cozy French-countryside embrace. Tucked inside a 200-year-old building, the "hushed dining room," as it was described by the New York Times, is home to "artistically arranged dishes" straight from the brain of owner Jacques Loupiac. The AAA Four Diamond Award–winning restaurant changes its menus frequently, but consistently remixes French culinary staples with seafood, beef, and vegetables grown in the United States.
Complemented by pours from vintages drawn out of its historic cellar, seasonal dishes may highlight sautéed Maine lobster with minty zucchini and white gazpacho or sophisticated accents of foie gras and escargots. It's La Panetière's unwavering devotion to refinement that makes it a destination for romance and celebration, as well as a proud recipient of the Best French Restaurant award, as voted by the people who read and make origami dragons out of Westchester Magazine. The eatery also boasts high Zagat ratings—food, decor, and service are all in the “extraordinary to perfection" category.
Father-son restaurateurs Pasquale and Francesco Coli chose the name Massa' Italian Kitchen & Bar as a tribute to the southern Italian farmhouses, known as “masserias,” that line the countryside of their native Puglia, located on the heel of Italy. Their passion for the rustic, Old-World charm of Puglia permeates the kitchen, where chefs hand form pastas, chop local farm vegetables, and assemble housemade sausages. As a nod to Puglia's centuries-old maritime traditions, they also seek out fresh shipments of fish and seafood every day. Before diners embark on a gustatory expedition to Italy, servers suggest wine pairings from a list of more than 100 bottles, and bartenders mix signature cocktails with vodkas they infuse with vibrant fruits.
Today the restaurant continues to embrace its rustic roots, catering to diners and families who appreciate classic Italian cuisine and healthy portion sizes. The easy, dining-room evokes the feel of a rural cottage with its exposed-stone walls, floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and woodwork, which was constructed out of materials salvaged from century-old New England barns to created a relaxed dining experience. At each table, Old-World crafted entrees steam atop white plates, while families and friends breezily chatter amid the homey ambiance to the split-level dining room and wine bar.
Van Cortlandt Park's Revolutionary War battle site not only provided Gun Hill Brewing with its name, but its mission as well. Located yards away from the brewery, Gun Hill inspired the brewery's founders to craft beers that reflect their local pride. Using ingredients from New York farmers whenever possible, the team creates a diverse lineup of unfiltered microbrews. These include a sessionable golden ale with a hint of savory spice, an American-style IPA brewed with five hop varieties?including whole-cone simcoe and citra hops?and Void of Light, an ink-black, foreign-style 2014 Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal winning stout with toasty aromas of espresso and cocoa.
A restaurant is only as good as its head chef. Luckily, Tombolino has Pietro Siciliano. Recognized in 2010 by Bon Appétit as top chef in Westchester, Siciliano prepares scratch-made pastas and other Italian-style delicacies daily using imported ingredients and kitchen mastery learned during his training at the Culinary Institute in Italy. A selection of more than 500 wines pair well with Siciliano’s creations, which include house specialties such as almond-crusted chilean sea bass and veal milanese.
Star chef and restaurateur Peter Xaviar Kelly opened his first restaurant, Xaviar’s in Garrison, when he was 23. Since then he has battled Bobby Flay, cooked at the James Beard House, introduced Anthony Bourdain to the Hudson Valley's bounty, and opened more restaurants. At his latest, Xaviars X2O on the Hudson, the Zagat-rated menu mixes Asian embellishments with Italian and Spanish touches and traditional French techniques. Thai barbecue, for example, spices the grilled portuguese octopus appetizer, and a brown-sugar-cayenne crust plays off the béarnaise sauce that tops aged-and-grilled cowboy rib eye steaks. In the Dylan Lounge, chefs slice sushi rolls into edible artworks such as jalapeño hamachi with pumpkin-seed oil.
An active turn-of-the-century Victorian pier hosts Xaviars' dining room on the Hudson. Vaulted 25-foot ceilings take support from three walls of glass that grant sweeping views of the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridges, pepper dinners with sunsets over the Palisades, and allow guests to keep eyes out for approaching giants. Inside, dark-wood furniture, mod lighting, and stark white tablecloths set an elegant stage for edible performances.