In 1909, Frank Pepe immigrated to the United States from his native town of Maiori, Italy. He was poor, illiterate, and just 16 years old?but he had a strong work ethic. After a stint in a New Haven factory and service as an Italian solider in World War I, he settled down for good in New Haven with his wife, Filomena, and started a bakery delivery service. But because he couldn?t read, he had trouble deciphering the orders. So he started having his customers come to him, and in 1925, he and Filomena added a simple item to the menu: Neapolitan-style pizzas.
To this day, the staff still heats up coal-fired ovens to bake the original tomato pies that Frank and Filomena first made famous. They can also add toppings such as bacon, Italian-imported anchovies, and house-roasted red peppers to their pizzas, or create specialty pies such as their signature white clam with olive oil, fresh garlic, and oregano. Diners can pair their pies with Pepe?s salad, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, or have the server tap draft brews such as Sam Adams Boston Lager and Peroni. They?ve served Foxon Park soda since 1925, so diners can request bottles of cream soda or diet white-birch beer made from only the sveltest birch trees.
Rarely do two burgers at Burke's Restaurant and Bar ever look the same. Not only do diners get to choose from four buns?including pretzel buns and english muffins?but they can also crown their burgers with more than 16 toppings, such as chipotle mayo and Irish bacon. Burgers, however, are just one of many options available at Burke's, whose remaining menu sports everything from chicken parm sliders to Irish chicken curry. Bartenders complement hearty feasts with myriad libations, from 19 draft beers to liquor-spiked milk shakes, which visitors can sip while watching games on 14 flat-screen TVs and two widescreen projectors.
Route 100 Wine Bar & Grill’s high-quality ingredients and generous portions have earned the bistro accolades in the New York Times, which praises the eclectic cuisine as “creative" and "carefully presented.” Italian pasta dishes and sauces dominate the menu, but chefs sneak in Asian flourishes such as ponzu sauce and wasabi-mashed potatoes. Polished hardwood floors reflect wall-mounted wine racks loaded with hundreds of international vintages and the occasional neglected genie bottle.
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.
Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway thrills patrons with casino games and live horse races, and keeps them filled with gourmet fare from Empire Terrace Restaurant's menu. Share a plate of Maryland crab cakes packed with lump crab meat or the beefsteak tomatoes and mozzarella, pillars of layered tomato and fresh cheese arranged to complement a balsamic-glaze pesto sauce and imitate Stonehenge's lunar chart. Chefs grill up 24-ounce prime porterhouse and 10-ounce filet mignon cuts from corn-fed beef naturally raised on Brant Farms. Filets of red snapper seal in their juices while sautéed in a mushroom, tomato, shallot, and garlic sauce before sidling onto plates alongside rice and the vegetable du jour. Diners unfold emerald napkins in the sweeping dining room bounded by a wall of windows that reveal an unblocked view of the raceway's half-mile dirt track, home to standardbred speed demons too hooved to get drivers' licenses.
Viru Restaurant demonstrates its authentic Peruvian roots with a wide variety of traditional dishes. Causa rellena de camarones satisfies bellies with shrimp, as long as those bellies like their shrimp hiding inside chilled mashed potatoes that are spiced up with lime and yellow chili ($12). The parihuela, a soupy sea of seafood cooked with white wine, spices, and panca chili, moisturizes parched stomachs with a torrential downpour of flavor ($24). Representing the eternal battle between land and sea, the bisteck a la chorrillana—a grilled New York steak with a sauce made of panca chili, onions, and tomatoes ($24)—wields haricots verts clubs against the pescado sudado, the fish of the day poached in seafood broth and herbs ($19). Placing a comforting cap on dinner, flan reminds diners of former days when sweet, creamy desserts grew everywhere all the time and only cost a nickel ($6). In addition to edibles, Viru Restaurant nourishes guests at the bar, which stocks its shelves with an impressive supply of domestic and imported beers, sangria, wines, and chicha, a drink made of fermented maize.