Via Sforza

243 Post Rd WWestport, CT 06880 • (203) 454-4423 • viasforza.com

Okay. I’ll admit that the décor in this place is so cheesy it’s almost a non-starter. I mean it does absolutely nothing for ones confidence when you enter, looking more like something you would find in Epcot or Vegas with its fake fresco walls and amusement park aesthetic.

But what they lack in taste they make up for in flavor, because the food is shockingly good. Just order yourself up a plate of their wonderfully fresh, well-balanced avocado salad and you will see, and taste, for yourself a skillfully balanced display of favors and textures like cucumber, radish, dried cranberries and pecans.

After that, I recommend chasing it with a kickass Cavatelli that doesn’t go bashful on the garlic. Loaded with freshly shaved ricotta salata, garden tomatoes, peppery arugula and perfectly al dente swirls of pastacularness.

Even my wine by the glass was great. The only miss for me was actually the bread that comes with the table. But when the food is this good, I’d rather not fill up on the bread anyway.

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La Sirena

Maritime Hotel 88 9th Ave. New York, NY 10011(212) 977-6096 lasirena-nyc.com

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Had I not been staying in the Maritime Hotel, I don’t think I would’ve ever given this restaurant the time of day. But now that I’ve eaten here, I will be counting the days until my return.

The setting itself is somewhat odd, two pod-like dining rooms at opposite ends of a massive, oven bar area that feels like the lido deck aboard a cruise liner, but with trendy booze and cocktail tables as opposed to a swimming pool and corpulent sunbathers. But within the pods both left and right, The Siren is serving up Italian that sings like a choir of angels achieving multiple orgasms.

Bursting out of the gate like Sea Biscuit (the horse, not the atrocious movie), they serve up a fresh-baked loaf of piping hot Italian bread that is so good it will vanish quicker than Lindsay Lohan’s career. But be sure to order a second one, because there’s sopping up you’ll be wanting to do ahead.

For an appetizer, I seldom swoon over salad, but I gotsta hand it to the frisee with poached egg, spicy pepperoni and warm potatoes. It is excellent, made so by the skillful balance of all its ingredients, but I think a special shout-out is in order to the pepperoni. Cut thick and packing so much heat you’d think it was a soppressata.

With 80% of their pastas being homemade, go figure that I would pick one of the only two that wasn’t. But for whatever reason, regardless of the waiter’s caution, I pressed on, because I had pus on the brain. That came out completely wrong, but the pus I’m referring two has eight legs, not two. A beautifully prepared al dente bucatini, loaded with tender, thin slices of spicy octopus, roasted peppers and onions all tossed in a delightfully fresh red sauce. Again, so surprisingly good I started questioning myself and everything around me. Was it the fault of food critics for not giving La Sirena the rightful kudos it deserves? Or was I just coming down with a sudden case of the easy-to-pleasies?

Ending with the pine nut tart for dessert, I was hoping for a strong miss to help make sense of the world again, but sadly things will have to remain a mystery. Drizzled with a red wine caramel and topped with an olive oil gelato, the tart walks a razors edge between savory and sweet making it unique and curiously pleasing in unexpected ways.

I would easily go five knives on this one, but I didn’t hear a lot of oohs and ahhs from the others at my table so I’m guessing the chicken and the clams with linguini aren’t at the same level as the bucatini, which might help explain the surprisingly mortal star count on Yelp.

4 teeth

 

Finalmente Trattoria

31 Beekman Ave. Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591 • (914) 909-4787

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It certainly helps to come here with a healthy dose of skepticism, because 4/4.5 stars it ain’t. In fact, less than a handful of restaurants in all of Westchester are worthy of that kind of praise.

That said, Finalmente did give a solid showing. The dining room is cozy and tastefully done. And the menu is loaded with some very unique preparations.

For apps I had the suckling pig stuffed mushrooms with black truffles and chickpeas, which was a solid yum. The other app we had was a pseudo salad served with giant balls of breadcrumb-dusted cheese and a chianti jelly, which I also quite liked.

Next came the pastas. Both were perfectly al dente. I had the wild boar ragu and wifey had the straw pasta with peas, pancetta, and… I forget. Both were good, but I think mine was a tad more interesting.

And for dessert, we did the ole standby, gelato. The chocolate is AMAZING! Not sure if they make it or just buy it, but WOW! Actually, if they do buy it and you know from where, please do tell?

Unfortunately, the chocolate gelato was the only “wow” thing of the meal. But everything else was a very respectable “good,” and nothing was bad.

Service, however, was a tad off. Pleasant for sure, but pulled a few cardinal sins. The biggest one being that he came and took the bill while we were still seated at the table. A huge no, no if you are trying to play in the leagues of 4 and 5 stars.

The other nit would be no bread/olive oil. Pretty rare at an Italian joint to leave you without a single nosh until your apps arrive. Heck, even the Olive Garden gives you unlimited salad & bread sticks. What’s with the no hospitaliano.

So, as I said before, 4.5 stars (or in my case knives) is a bit of a stretch, but for 3.5 it’s pretty perfecto!

3 teeth

il Buco Alimentari e Vineria

53 Great Jones St. New York, NY 10012 • (212) 837-2622 • ilbucovineria.com

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This is a tough review for me to write, because I was treated by a dear friend and fellow foodie. But, if I start letting things like that influence me, then I wouldn’t exactly be a Ferocious Foodie, now would I? So, hopefully he understands, but I’m guessing next time will be my treat. 😉

So, here it goes… Not unlike its sibling Alimentari is a great looker. Quaint and charming. But as we all know, looks aren’t everything. And once again I found myself wondering why so many other reviewers keep touting this franchise. Maybe it’s me?

This is not to say that we are in diametrically opposed camps. I mean, it’s not like the place is terrible by any stretch. But it’s not exactly amazing either.

For starters, we had the crispy artichokes, which are good. Served crispy, just like the description says. But yet something held them back from amazing. Under-seasoned would be my main guess. That, or simply not the freshest, most incredible ingredient to start with, enough that it could stand on its own.

As for the bucatini, this was a bit more obvious. It was blatantly undercooked. Not al dente. More like Undercookede. That said, I very much enjoyed the peppery prep. But because it was so hard and chewy I couldn’t get on board the love train.

Next came the sandwiches of which we split two, the short rib and the porchetta. The short rib was the clear winner. A very solid good with its caramelized onions and tender beefiness. But it pales in comparison to the steak sammy at BLT Steak.

And speaking of paling, the porchetta is so far beneath my Ultimate (Rocket Pig) I wouldn’t even bother. That said, the kale sandwich passed by our table and I found myself wishing we had gotten that instead. Not a very good sign for porchetta, either that or a great sign for kale.

Anyways, the point is still the point and that point is Alimentari is very elementary. Meaning basic. Meaning basically skip it.

2 teeth