For close to two decades, the chefs at Pasta Cucina have used tried-and-true recipes as the blueprints for their classic Italian dishes. Manager Mario Espana and his team make bellies feel like they’re part of the family with comforting plates of veal parmigiana, fettuccine carbonara with imported prosciutto, and traditional ravioli prepared with a modern twist of ingredients, including jalapeños and brandy cream sauce. Exposed-brick accents and paintings depicting rustic Italian scenery whisk diners to the Old World and create an environment more inviting than a cliff leading to a giant pile of pillows.
In the kitchen at Gaetano's Grill, cooks slide well-seasoned pizzas out of a brick oven and put the finishing touches on burgers made with prime sirloin, putting together feasts of Italian and American favorites. Like a ball gown made out of a sleeping bag, the surroundings are simultaneously fancy and comfortable: the Uptown Lounge rings with cheers and the sounds of karaoke and football shown on HDTV, and the sun-filled patio is filled with the scents of prosciutto-stuffed pollo novella and savory New York Strip steak. Guests sip frosty draft beers as they dig their forks into hearty baked ziti and penne vodka or chow down on Bronx-style pizzas topped with fresh garlic, pepperoni, and meatballs.
While working as executive chef for top restaurants around the globe, Rossano Giannini would often pine for the bustling piazzas and sunny cafés of his hometown, Lucca, Italy. He left his prestigious position at Torre Di Pisa in Manhattan to open up his own restaurant in Nyack, where streets of picturesque shops and a friendly communal atmosphere reminded Rossano fondly of Lucca. He set up shop in an intimate, sunlit storefront, firing up his stovetop and rolling up his sleeves to prepare the dishes that would one day be lauded by the James Beard Foundation.
Today, Lanterna Tuscan Bistro hums with energy as Rossano's wife, Maureen, leads guests to white-clothed tables and Rossano himself directs the bustling kitchen. He folds lobster and porcini mushrooms into handmade ravioli, mixes fresh herbs into aromatic sauces, and repeatedly highlights the power of meat dishes such as a whole rack of lamb encrusted with mustard and herbed bread crumbs. Rossano even offers Tuscan cooking classes, where he demonstrates how to prepare traditional recipes while providing students with useful culinary tips, such as the best method for chopping garlic and ways to shake off the sense of attachment you get when an eggplant kind of looks like it's smiling at you.
For more than 25 years, the Orfino family has welcomed diners to share their zeal for authentic Italian recipes at Orfino's Restaurant. Renovations and décor updates over the years have kept the eatery in shape to churn out lobster ravioli and chicken marsala. Inside, white tablecloths and exposed brick walls compose a refined, rustic backdrop for a seasonal menu created by chef Michael Orfino, Jr. In addition to fresh herbs and vegetables, chef Orfino draws inspiration from family recipes, such as house-made Italian cheesecake.
The dough halo hovers in the air, free-for a split second-from gravity's machinations. This airborne moment is short-lived, and the circlet plummets back into the hands of the New York Pizza Company chef, who repeats the up-and-down cycle until he deems the dough ready to be festooned with toppings. Masters of the well-made pie, New York Pizza Company's chefs pride themselves in their hand-tossed dough and the fresh toppings-such as ricotta, roma tomatoes, and barbecue chicken-that dapple their surfaces. Once a pizza has been assembled, the chefs slip it into the kitchen's brick oven where off-duty suns imbue it with a golden, toasty patina. Along with their signature pies, the chefs also whip up hot and cold subs, calzones, pastas, and soups.
Inside the kitchen of Marcello’s, teardrop chandeliers cast their warm gaze over copper cookware and a dining table that wraps around the stove. Here, Chef Marcello sheds light on the techniques of preparing Italian cuisine during cooking classes and private parties. In such events, up to 12 guests can sip wine while he picks recipes secretly stored in his chef’s hat and demonstrates how to assemble artful dishes, which may include risotto with chicken and spinach or pasta with fresh tomato mozzarella and basil. Although the private dining experience is the easiest way to witness Chef Marcello’s passion for sharing the cuisine of his native Italy, guests can also enjoy his dynamic entrees without front-row seats at the chef’s table. In the restaurant’s dining room, floor-to-ceiling murals depict the Tuscan countryside and ferns adorn honey-colored walls as diners anticipate hearty meals. Atop crisp white tablecloths, servers present platters of housemade pastas and veal prepared seven ways. The knowledgeable staff is also happy to recommend pairings from the vast Italian wine list.
The cooks at Mediterraneo craft pizza, seafood, pasta, and beef dishes inspired by the myriad regions of Italy. Limber up your taste buds with antipasti such as fried calamari or carpaccio, a serving of thinly sliced filet mignon crowned with arugula and parmesan. A relay team of mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, and gorgonzola race across a savory track in the quattro formaggi pizza. The costata di maiale pairs a pan-seared pork chop with vinegar peppers and a balsamic reduction, and in the cioppino's plum-tomato sauce drenches a mélange of sole, shrimp, clams, linguine, and scallops. Burning wall sconces alight Mediterraneo's distressed walls, and potted plants spill over columns and arches to high-five vegetables that made it into signature dishes.