Wolfert’s Roost

100 Main St. Irvington, NY 10533 • (914) 231-7576WolfertsRoostIRV.com

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If I gave out knives for effort, the Roost would earn a resounding five, because I really do appreciate the inventiveness in almost every dish. I also dig the understated vibe, which feels a little reminiscent of The Cookery in neighboring Dobbs Ferry, especially with its kitchen utensil chandeliers and abysmal acoustics. But sadly Wolfert is no Cookery when it comes to culinary greatness. I’m getting ahead of myself though, so let’s go “back to the start” as Chris Martin would say.

Upon entering we came prepared, BYOBing a nice bottle of Caymus Conundrum and a French Bordeaux. What we weren’t prepared for was having to send up a flare to get our waitress’ attention. But once we caught her eye, we ordered about a third of the menu, partly out of fear that we may never see her again. Well, fortunately she returned with three very impressive starters. The best of the trio, and of the entire meal, would be the wild mushroom bruschetta. As seen on Yelp (and above), this dish deserves every last ounce of adulation. But it gets high with a little help from its friends, taleggio and the fried egg on top.

The other world-rocking small plate was the bloomin’ broccoli. I assume paying homage to the Outback Steakhouse, the battered and fried floret is not only bloomin’, it’s boomin’ with flavors both savory and sweet thanks to the brilliant accompaniments of Humboldt Fog and apricot jam. The former already being one of my favorite cheeses on Earth, perhaps I’m a little biased.

The third app was also pretty good, the spaghetti with pork ragu and piave (yet another favorite cheese), but because it was done as a torta, the pasta was a bit on the crispy side, which I like in a textural way, but don’t actually love.

Now, before I move on to the entrees, or “big bowls” as they are referred to on the menu, I want to dispel a crazy misperception you might find in other reviews, this notion of meager-sized portions. Now, I’m not exactly sure what passes for a small plate for some of these people, but I’m guessing these were the same people fighting Bloomberg to keep Super Big Gulps in the city. It’s either that or they went with the tasting menu, which are supposed to be small portions, you neanderthals!

Getting back to the Big Bowls, this is where things fell apart. The fried chicken everyone raves about is almost as puzzling as the portion size comments. We only ordered a half portion and it was easily enough for three people, granted that might’ve been due to the fact that it sucked wind. Soggy on the outside, dry on the inside and flavorless all over. If you want truly great fried chicken try ABC Kitchen in New York, Highball & Harvest in Orlando or Son of a Gun in LA. This, on the other hand, is a cock-a-doodle-don’t.

The other big bowl of blah was the Korean-ish baby back ribs. Once again a dish ruined by Sahara-like dryness, which was such a shame, because the flavors on the outside were actually pretty decent (kimchi and gouchujong). Fortunately the third bowl, the Short Rib Pho somewhat redeemed Wolfert, because thankfully it was served in a broth that kept it moist. But as good as it was, it was no consolation to the damage done.

Pressing on and trying to put the past behind us, or more accurately trying to put dessert in front of us, we went with what was essentially a chocolate chip cookie and ice cream and a caramelized banana and ice cream dessert. I don’t recall the actual names of either, but both were good, not great- which is indicative of the experience as a whole. Good, but not great.

3 teeth

il Buco

47 Bond St. New York, NY 10012(212) 533-1932 • ilbuco.com

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I’m starting to feel like maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the problem, and all of these 4 star restaurants on Yelp really are great and my taste buds are just old and crotchety. That, or maybe the value of the star has fallen drastically against the knife in the foreign currency exchange? Well, I might’ve felt this way had it not been for the fact that the three other people who dined with me were equally underwhelmed.

Dare I say it, but I honestly think NYC Italian restaurants are more often than not, not all that. I know that’s a confusing double negative, so to clarify, they suck more than they sing. I’ve had better Italian in Westchester for Christ’s sake! Seriously. I challenge anyone to eat at Il Buco and then at The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry or Fortina in Armonk and tell me Buco is better.

L.A. also has SEVERAL Italian restaurants that blow this away. C’mon New York! WTF?!? Get your Italian shit together.

As for our meal, we started with the croquettes, which proved to be nothing I would ever recommend ordering. Not cringe-worthy however, unless you consider how much money they cost, without returning to you an ounce of joy on your investment.

The kale salad came next and was painfully overrated. It’s like no one has ever had a kale salad before on the Il Buco review thread. Please people… go to The Fat Radish on the Lower East Side or to Yardbird in Miami. Both of their kale salads puts this one to shame.

The octopus was the only thing I would actually say was great. But if you truly want your eight-legged world rocked, try Pera near Grand Central, Gato in Noho or Pearl & Ash on Bowery.

As for entrees, the penne was overpowered by the cheese, so much so that you couldn’t even taste the other ingredients in the dish, such as Brussels sprouts, which aren’t exactly an easy flavor to drown.

The rabbit pappardelle was good. But a mere shadow compared to the glowing praise it receives on the Interwebs. And the homemade sorbets for dessert were so flavorless, we couldn’t even decipher what flavors they were, basically all tasting like balls of ice.

Fortunately the service was good. And the decor is quaint. But sadly, you can’t eat either of those. Unless you’re a cannibal, I suppose. Which might bode well for you, because the servers probably have more flavor than most of the dishes.

2 teeth

Mario’s Pizza

Mount Kisco Train Station1 Kirby Plaza Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 666-6338mariospizzapastamtkisco.com

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Maybe I’m a pizza snob, but I don’t see it. And trust me, I wanted to see the shit out of it. I mean to have great pizza so close to my house would be a dream. But a dream it shall remain, because while the people are indeed great as many have stated and the wood-fired brick oven is nice, it doesn’t translate to the pies. I mean it’s not like the oven just magically makes pizzas great. You have to actually put something good into it first. And the sauce and the crust just aren’t special. They wind up disappearing in a haze of cheesy blah . Even the toppings/ingredients are nothing to boast. Not so fresh it will make you swoon or so inventive it will blow your mind.

So, now I’m sure the next question will be, well, what pizza places do you like in the Chester? Well, in Upper Westchester  I’d go with Fortina in Armonk hands down. But Village Social makes a decent pie too. So does Belizzi- if you only stick to The Belizzi (their special namesake pizza). And last but not least, Old Stone Trattoria deserves a bit of love as well.

In lower Westchester I really like Polpettina in Eastchester & Larchmont, The Cookery & The Parlor both in Dobb’s Ferry and Frankie & Louie’s in Port Chester. Any one of these places makes Mario’s taste like a box of frozen pizza bagels, not the pizza bagels, the box.

2 teeth

The Parlor

14 Cedar St. Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522 • (914) 478-8200 • theparlordf.com

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If this was just about the food, it’d be an easy 5 knives. After all, ever since The Cookery opened, this chef can do no wrong in my eyes. That said, apparently the rest of his staff can…

From the moment we sat down our problems began, mainly because the seats we sat down on weren’t clean and my wife wound up staining her silk skirt on oily mushrooms left on her chair! Fortunately it was black silk, so it should hide it well. If not, should the owner be reading this, we might be sending you the DC bill.

But that was only the fair warning, which we failed to heed. Next came the pies, but not the beer I had asked for. And upon looking over at the bar, some ten minutes later, I witnessed the bartender at the far end, chatting up some friend, with no intentions of pouring my pint. But wait, it’s worse than that. He didn’t even pour it. All he did was open a bottle and hand it over with an empty glass- and the waitress didn’t even bother to poor the beer either. Nor did she ever clear the empty bottle from our over-crowed tiny table.

All this said, the pies were great, but we knew they would be as we have had them prior at The Cookery and at the Chappaqua Farmer’s Market (highly recommend the lemon- yes “lemon” pizza, and the asparagus pie). So, knowing how good the CHEF is, we pressed on for dessert, which was also pretty great. The oatmeal, bacon cookie with vanilla gelato. Great combo of flavors. Sadly, however, they managed to screw this up too, by serving it with 2 out 4 dirty side plates!!!

At this point I was almost a bit grossed out to be honest, as I started to fear for myself and my family as I sincerely doubt that this place meets health codes. I mean I totally get the grunge/dirty vibe of the decor, but taking it to the seats and the plates is pushing it.

3 teeth

The Ultimate Osso Bucco

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The Cookery – Dobbs Ferry, NY

When you go to an Italian restaurant the first thing on most people’s minds is pasta. Maybe pizza. Maybe a caprese salad. But very seldom is an osso bucco top of mind. Well, if you ever should happen to find yourself near Dobbs Ferry, NY (Hometown of Mark Zuckerberg), then I strongly suggest you make a stop inside The Cookery for some, you guessed it, osso bucco.

This thing is fall off the bone pork perfection. And yes, I tend to drop alliteration when I get excited. It is so moist and full of flavor, it’s enough to make brisket and short ribs jealous.

And best of all, you pair this baby up with a bottle of Amarone for only $60 (which is unheard of in a restaurant), and it’s game over.