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Last updateThu, 18 Jan 2018 2pm

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Upscale Northern Italian Dishes at La Fontanella

La Fontanella LobsterI recently decided to revisit an old favorite, La Fontanella in Pelham. It has been in business for over 20 years and seems to improve with every visit. The management has changed through the years, but the Executive Chef Joe Palaguachi still heads the kitchen. For the last few years, Alfredo Salazar has led the management team. He worked in restaurants while pursuing a college degree and loved the business. He worked in many restaurants including Harry's of Hartsdale for many years and went on to earn a degree in management. He describes La Fontanella as," an upscale Northern Italian and Adriatic restaurant with a bit of old school flair. Hygiene and keeping the restaurant neat and clean from kitchen to dining areas is of great importance. La Fontanella is welcoming where we serve nothing but the best. Our goal for the future are to be the talk of the county and the place to go."

From the dining room to the kitchen, La Fontanella is a detail oriented dining spot. A pleasant bar area greets you at the front of this charming spot. The formal yet comfortable dining room is divided into separate areas by draperies. We chose to dine at the intimate area towards the back, where the white linen clad tables, fresh flowers and mellow music set a relaxed but formal tone. Special sound proof panels along the walls muted any excess noise .This is a fine addition, which allows you to dine in a fine restaurant and actually enjoy a conversation with your guests without being interrupted by conversations surrounding you. The cream La Fontella colored walls were decorated with the original ornate moldings, lending an elegance to the area. The restaurant seats about 90 guests. In the warmer months a few tables are set at the entrance to La Fontanella. The area is filled with colorful flowers and plantings and give the spot a European flavor. They call it "the café".

Chef Joe Palaguachi has been lighting up the kitchens of New York since his arrival almost 30 years ago from his native Ecuador. He worked in many renowned Manhattan kitchens from Giambelli's to Il Nido, where he honed his natural skill and talent. He combines traditional and creative ideas in his dishes and has been at La Fontanella since it opened. "The ingredients I must have in my kitchen are garlic, onions, olive oil, basil and parsley. We offer many daily specials in addition to our menu selections and we have seasonal changes. Osso Bucco, beef short ribs, whole roasted branzino with garlic, olives and lemon are some favorite dishes."

At a recent tasting, I sampled many of the specials of the day as well as some menu items. I came to the conclusion that I probably could have closed my eyes and picked any item and been totally delighted. Our professional and knowledgeable waiter, Carmine helped to guide us through our multi course meal with expertise.

La Fontanella dishWe started with a special of vegetable quinoa with grilled shrimp and roasted pepper coulis. The creative combination of grains and seafood was quite good. Fresh lemon added zest to this dish. Another daily special was a picture perfect roasted vegetable napoleon. This may appear on many menus, but here it is special. The beets, Portobello mushrooms, eggplant and roasted pepper are layered and topped with the crowning glory of house made burrata- very impressive. Shrimp cocktail, octopus salad, seafood salad, eggplant rollatini, and clams oreganata are additional menu appetizers. Several salads are offered ranging from insalata di rucola with arugula, wild mushrooms, shaved parmesan and a citrus vinaigrette to insalata di iceberg with red onion, beefsteak tomatoes, crisp bacon and a creamy gorgonzola dressing. We enjoyed our special salad of microgreens, walnuts, apple slices, fresh supremes of orange with a balsamic vinaigrette. It refreshed our palate in preparation for our pasta course. Among the homemade pastas we enjoyed fusilli calabrese with lamb ragu. The pasta dough is rolled into thin strips and twisted. They are steps above the dry commercial variety of this pasta. Enrobed in a wonderful ragu of cubed lamb and topped with shaved parmesan, this was a dish to remember. Lobster ravioli was yet another winner among the pasta selections. The lobster filled pockets were surrounded by a delightful light creamy tomato sauce enhanced with grappa, garlic and olive oil for a tantalizing result. Chunks of crabmeat added a finishing touch. Gnocchi della Nonna with Bolognese sauce, linguine carbonara and cavatelli e rapa are yet to be tried. pasta la fontanella

Fish dishes sparkle at La Fontanella. Chef Palaguachi personally chooses the freshest of fish at the market each morning. We had the pleasure of enjoying one of his specials of black sea bass served over saffron risotto studded with rounds of fresh zucchini. Slivers of garlic, shrimp and scallops added style to the presentation and a light scampi sauce completed this superb creation. A touch of lime juice brought out the flavors. Outstanding was the Tagliarini Fontanella house made with clams, mussels, calamari, octopus, tiger shrimp and Maine lobster. A light tomato sauce completed this elaborate dish where each seafood component was cooked to perfection. Other fish choices include wild salmon Provençale, bronzino filet, shrimp scampi and filet of sole almondine. Several chicken dishes are offered as well as pork, veal and New York Strip steak. We were presented with a special. Arriving on a large platter was a huge tomahawk steak for 2. On the bone, this thick rib eye was encrusted with crushed peppercorns and surrounded by roasted potatoes and sautéed onions, mushrooms and peppers. It was a dish fit for royalty.

If you have room for dessert, tiramisu, crème brulee are some of the house made possibilities. At lunch on Monday through Friday, choose from a la carte offerings or a price fixed 3 course meal. If you are craving upscale beautifully prepared Northern Italian dished where everything, even the pasta is prepared in house in formal but friendly surroundings, by a capable staff, then La Fontanella is a fine destination to savor the pleasure of dining. Try it soon.Lamb Chops at La Fontanella

La Fontanella
115 Wolfs Lane
Pelham
914 738 3008

Recipe for the Salmon Alla Vinagreta {serves 2}:
1 pound salmon fillet [ in 2 pieces]
Pinch salt and pepper
2 tsps. olive oil
3 plum tomatoes
1 ounce scallions
1 tsp. chopped parsley
1 pinch pepper flakes
3 spoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tsps. balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Preheat skillet. Add a couple of teaspoons of oil. Season salmon with salt and pepper and pan sear for a couple of minutes for a good medium rare. Keep longer if you wish it to be cooked more. For the sauce, chop the tomatoes, scallions, and parsley. Add pepper flakes. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve with cooked fish.

JudieJudie Dweck has been writing about restaurants and food for many publications. She teaches creative cooking to children at Scarsdale elementary schools. Through the years, her articles have appeared in Jack and Jill Magazine, Spotlight, The Pleasure of Cooking and The Scarsdale Inquirer. She balances her restaurant tastings with daily ballet classes.

Drama Club Double Feature on Stage at SHS this Weekend

checkpleaseSupport friends and local community at the Scarsdale High School Drama Club's student-directed double feature TRACKS and CHECK PLEASE on stage at Scarsdale High School this weekend.

Performances:
Fri, Jan 12th @ 7:30
Sat, Jan 13th @ 7:30

Here are synopses of the two plays:

Tracks (Directed by Alexa Trujillo and Steven Orlofsky):
A group of strangers meet in a dirty subway station. They have arrived with limited personal belongings, their watches have stopped and they all claim to be in different cities. Soon they learn there is no way out of the station, and the unfortunate truth is told to them: they are all dead. Since subway stations have two sides, they reason the train leaving from one platform must be bound for heaven, while the train leaving from the other platform must be bound for hell. But which platform are they on?tracks3

Check Please (Directed by Camila Tardif and Daniella Ashman): Dating can be hard. Especially when your date happens to be a raging kleptomaniac, your grandmother's bridge partner, or a mime. Check Please follows a series of blind dinner dates that couldn't get any worse -- until they do. Could there possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel?

Purchase tickets at the door or online here or at the door.

tracksposter

Welcome 2018 with a Prime Steak Dinner at Flames Steakhouse

flamessteakDoes the mention of filet mignon, porterhouse, shell steak and t-bone make your mouth water? If so, hurry over to Flames Steakhouse which recently relocated from Briarcliff Manor to Elmsford. There are many steakhouses in Westchester ranging from chain type establishments to privately owned upscale restaurants. Flames falls into the top tier of the second category serving prime USDA certified angus beef that is butchered and dry aged in their own facility. They take great pride in their products.

Owner and executive chef Nikolla Vulaj arrived here from Montenegro as a young teen in 1972. He worked in the kitchen of the ship he sailed on. He learned his craft at a meat market on Arthur Avenue in New York. He continued honing his skills at many fine New York restaurants including the renowned Peter Luger in 1992. He opened the original Flames Steakhouse in Briarcliff Manor. This was followed by Giaradino d’Oro in the Wall Street area of New York in 2001. Just a few months ago, he sold his Briarcliff restaurant and opened Flames Steakhouse, closer to our neighborhood, in Elmsford. Vulaj said, “The important qualities of a chef- owner are to have a good understanding of food, recognition of quality and purchasing only the best products... We put a great deal of effort into running our restaurant with a hands on approach. Everything is made to order. We appreciate our guests and we take great care in presenting our dishes to them. My goal is to make Flames Steakhouse a landmark destination.” In Vulaj’s own words, “Our job is to create dishes that bring our guests great pleasure. That is my job and I love it.”

As you enter the restaurant, a roomy bar area is to your right. The impressive curved marble bar is equipped with a fine variety of drinks. To the left is an intimate dining room with about nine tables. Adjoining it are doors that open to an additional dining room, adding to the seating capacity. It has a classic setting with crisp white cloths, a fireplace with a large mirror above it, dark wood wainscoting, a beamed ceiling, a wall of wines and a collection of gold leaf framed art work which adds to the charm and warmth of the space. The floor is carpeted which keeps the noise level down at busy dining times.

A basket of thickly sliced country bread was warmed with slab of butter as we checked out the menu. The appetizersflamesshrimp ranged from Italian specialties to typical steakhouse choices, as well as a few inventive beginnings. While shrimp cocktail and crabmeat cocktail appear on many steakhouse restaurant menus, at Flames they are very special. The shrimp are huge and meaty, and the crabmeat is colossal – the best quality available. Served with house made cocktail sauce, each of these choices was exceptional. The popular burrata, fresh as could be, rested on a slice of ripe tomato. How nice to have a tomato that actually tastes like a tomato in late December. Owner Vulaj indicated that, “I won’t buy tomatoes out of season that are not tasty.” A few leaves of fresh basil added flavor to this delightful starter. Italian specialties of baked clams oreganata, fried calamari, and eggplant rollatini are offered as well. We loved the eggplant, flameslobstera family recipe. The slices of eggplant were rolled with prosciutto and fontina cheese and served with a light tomato and mascarpone sauce, which complimented the dish. Oysters, cold antipasto, a variety of salads and grilled Canadian bacon are other possible starters. Unique on a steakhouse menu was the tuna wasabi. Here the sushi quality tuna was nicely spiced, seared and served over seaweed salad with ginger and wasabi as accompaniments. It was a very refreshing dish that perks up the palate, giving another example of the superior quality of ingredients used at Flames.

We look forward to Flames Steakhouse’s main event, especially the USDA prime certified angus beef that has been butchered and aged at the restaurant. There are exceptional options like the prime shell steak, a t-bone, or filet mignon on or off the bone. Depending upon the size of your group there is a classic porterhouse for 1, 2, 3 or 4 in which you can savor the texture and taste of both strip and filet cuts. I opted for the bone in filet mignon. It arrived black and blue as requested and was served steakhouse style on a platter set on an inverted plate so the sumptuous juices pooled at the bottom of the dish. Our server sliced it into thick wedges and I was ready to dig in. The quality spoke for itself. It was so tender and smooth, and barely needed the serious steak knife at my setting. With the typical steakhouse style, I enjoyed creamed spinach, sautéed onions and crisp tiny cubes of home fried potatoes. flamescheeseThe small potato cubes allowed for a crunchy and wonderful result. House made steak sauce was presented and was delicious but the meat stood on its own without the addition of sauce. The steak sauce can also be purchased to enjoy at home. There are other entrees such as the extra thick veal chop with mushrooms, domestic rack of lamb, chopped steak, salmon, several chicken dishes, lobster, and surf and turf. If pasta is your desire, penne vodka, linguine in white clam sauce, and spaghetti carbonara are some of your options.

As expected, desserts here are homemade. Perhaps you might try the apple strudel, chocolate cake, crème brulee, and as we enjoyed, zecchino, a family favorite. A layered trifle of reduced English cream with vanilla beans and white chocolate, topped with mocha mousse was a perfect finale to our excellent meal. A large and expanding selection of International, Italian and domestic wines are available to accompany your meal.

If lunch is your meal of choice, many salads, sandwiches, pastas and entrees are offered. Flames can accommodate over 100 guests for private parties.

As an added note, Chef Vulaj opened Flames Wood Fired Pizza and Italian Cuisine next door, a casual spot serving a large variety of pizza and Italian dishes for dine in, pick up and delivery.

We welcome Flames Steakhouse to lower Westchester with open arms and hearty appetites. We look forward to many excellent steak dinners there, where the food and service are top notch.

Flames Steakhouse
121 East Main Street
Elmsford
914 592 3500

http://flamessteakhouse.com

Recipe: Flames Original Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

1 large Idaho potato, peeled

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeatFlamestables

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

3 scallions, finely chopped

2 egg whites, whipped until foamy

¼ tsp. salt

Pinch black pepper

Pinch red crushed pepper

½ cup cooked corn kernels

1 cup breadcrumbs

Light vegetable oil for pan searing

Directions:
Bake the potato halfway. Shred it on a hand cheese grater. Place it in a bowl with crabmeat, mustard, scallions, egg whites, salt, peppers, and corn. Mix well by hand. Add the breadcrumbs until mixture is firm. Form the mixture into large circles, ¾ inch thick. Pan sear for 2 minutes on each side over medium flame. Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite tartar or other sauce and enjoy.

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Scarsdale Gift Guide for 2017: What's in Store

currenthome1No need to leave Scarsdale to find great gifts for family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and everyone you wish to thank at the end of the year. The Scarsdale retail scene is experiencing a resurgence and you can find nice merchandise and support Village businesses by shopping local.

Here are just a few places to shop for the holidays:

Current Home is the place to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Looking for something unique and special? Feast your eyes on these gorgemahjonggtrayous vases, bowls and candlesticks. The contrast of the Italian marble against the polished metal exudes a bold and modern vibe. All pieces available in gold and silver. If you're looking for a gift that is more personal, they offer customized throw blankets and trays that everybody loves. Stop by the store to see their many other options for holiday gifts.

Current Home
Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center
(914) 723-2462

lasryEye Gallery of Scarsdale invites you to see the newest styles from Thierry Lasry, dazzling eyewear showing rich colors and mirrors. The newest Cutler and Gross sunglasses with round colors and mirrors are one of the many new styles they have for winter! See these as well as styles from Barton Perreira, Salt, Dior, Chanel, Dita, Matsuda, and countless others!cutlerandgross



Eye Gallery of Scarsdale

Drs. Michael and Jay Rosen

8 Spencer Place
914-472-2020

I Am More Scarsdale is the newest addition to the Village. They are a unique women's boutique, featuring the hottest new trends in fashion, accessories, braceletathleisure and jewelry. Their mission is to empower women to make them feel confident. They carry the work of up and coming established women-owned businesses and designers. For the holidays, check out these gold beaded bracelets from Karen Lazar. A gorgeous addition to your jewelry collection, these bracelets can be stacked with other bracelets or worn by themselves as a minimalist statement.

I Am More Scarsdale
6 Spencer Place
Scarsdale, NY

Lulu Cake Boutique has a special holiday menu with signature sweets santafor Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. They have created a 3D Santa cake, in three sizes, serving 15, 25 or 35 people. Dazzle your guests with this creative confection featuring Santa, a gift list and wrapped presents in red, green, purple and blue. Also on the menu are three variations on "Buche de Noel" in Valrhona chocolate, nutella with candied hazelnuts or rainbowcakepistachio salty caramel with dark chocolate. Also special for the holidays are artisan rainbow cookies in apricot pear and almond, lemon and candied ginger and chocolate framboise raspberry. Sounds delectable! Don't forget their yodels, assorted retro twinkies and rugelach as well as the original Sarah Bernhardts from Jesperson's recipe.

Order today. Lulus will be open on Christmas Eve, December 24 and New Year's Eve, December 31 for pick-ups from 9 am to 1 pm.

Lulu Cake Boutique
40 Garth Road
Scarsdale NY 10583
(914) 722-8300

WyattLily1Wyatt Lily specializes in putting together gifts for babies, for birthdays and for no reason at all. They mix statement pieces of clothing with a cute accessory, book or game to make the package feel complete. Unique gifts you won't find anywhere else sized for boys and girls, newborns through size 16. For the holidays, try Wyatt Lily's custom glitter bar with custom made onesies to T-shirts from newborn to adult adorned with any saying that you want. Makes a great gift. Normally $38-$46. Mention the Scarsdale10583 gift guide and the price is $30 now through December 20. Shop Wyatt Lily on Instagram at @wyattlilyboutique.


Wyatt Lily

1 Chase Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
(914) 472-1930

Zachys Wine and Liquor
: Let's face it, finding the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday list can be difficult (and time consuming)! At Zachys, they believe you can't go wrong with the gift of wine. No need to worry about getting the right size or color; wine delivers a sense of luxury and pleasure.zachysxmas

Their knowledgeable staff has done the work for you, curating a selection of premium gift packages guaranteed to "wow" any wine enthusiast, from novice to collector. Ranging from Italian to French, Californian to "World Traveler" (assorted region pack), each gift includes three 750ml selections accompanied by wine information and tasting notes, starting at only $75. Make Zachys your go-to wine gifting destination this holiday season!

Featured Selection:
Premium World Traveler Package (#406752): An assortment for the wine lover who enjoys French; Italian and California wines. The Premium World Traveler Package features a brut rosé from America's House of Sparking Wine; a difficult-to-obtain Bordeaux from Pomerol; and "one of the Year's Best Brunellos" from the 2012 vintage.

Brunello di Montalcino Il Poggione 2012 (93JS/93+VM)
Schramsberg Brut Rose 2013
La Gravette de Certan 2014

Zachys Wine & Liquor
16 E. Parkway, Scarsdale
(914) 874-8000
Order here!

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