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.
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.
DeCosta's attentive owners, brothers Pedro and Nuno, trade off strolling through the dining room to connect with patrons dining on upscale Italian dishes. To craft an authentic menu of lunch and dinner selections, chefs whip up pastas from scratch and procure fresh fish via regular trips to the New Fulton Fish Market and a wholesale account with entrepreneurial merfolk. Thin angel-hair pasta forms a halo around forks as tines pierce aquatic bits in the capellini crabmeat and shrimp ($18 for lunch; $22 for dinner), and the chicken parmigiana's poultry cutlets sizzle in pans before slipping into a luxurious bath of mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce ($16 for dinner). A 16-ounce steak is doused in a port-wine reduction and mushrooms to form the rib eye portobello ($33 for dinner), and the salmon Capri introduces a grilled fillet of salmon to a salad trio of arugula, endive, and radicchio drizzled in a light vinaigrette ($19 for lunch; $24 for dinner).
In a historical building that once housed a printing press, the smell of ink and newspaper has been replaced with the enticing aromas of Italian food. Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge's executive chef, Pasquale Dedi, oversees a refined menu of small plates, pizzas, and seasonal entrees made from traditional recipes with a modern twist and the freshest ingredients available. Pastas, such as the signature wide pappardelle with veal bolognese and mint, are all made in-house with the TLC of a loving nonna, and many of the main-course meats come from organic or wild sources.
Located in Yonkers's downtown waterfront district, Zuppa's warm, modern decor and sophisticated use of a former industrial space creates the ideal dining atmosphere. There are three dining areas here?the bar, the main dining room, and the private wine cellar. Each offers an intimate eating experience facilitated by helpful servers, knowledgeable sommeliers, and ghosts of the mythological Print Age.
From the Press
A Welcoming Wine List
When first perusing Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge's 19-page list of libations, diners may be intimidated by the eatery's wine inventory. The wine list, however, is just as accessible as it is extensive. Here are a few tips for navigating the menu.
While growing up in Italy, chefs and owners Al and Gino became accustomed to large family gatherings that featured hearty platters of homemade pasta. It was in that environment that the duo learned its way around the kitchen and how to mix sauces with a motorboat engine. After moving to the States, they opened a small pizzeria in 1975 to let their new community experience the authentic dishes they had known their whole lives. Since then, the duo has remodeled their kitchen and expanded the space by building a solarium dining room to accommodate a larger crowd looking to sample their menu of more than 100 options. Today, Al and Gino still craft dishes such as lasagna and chicken scarpariello by hand, which can be paired with a cappuccino or wine.
Swirls of steam escape from homemade pasta. Waiters pluck whites and reds from a wine rack nearly 190 bottles strong. Canary and cream linens swathe waiting tables. The dining room at Luciano's immerses diners in classy atmosphere, complemented by a menu of hearty Italian eats. Proprietor and chef Luciano Savone fills the kitchen?s grills, stoves, and ovens with steaks, veal cutlets, chicken, and seafood to create classic dinner entrees or lighter lunch dishes. Friday and Saturday nights light up with live music, dancing, and laser-light shows that reenact The Italian Job.