L’inizio

698 Saw Mill River Rd. Ardsley, NY 10502 • (914) 693-5400 •  liniziony.com

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After three different people recommended that I try this place, I knew it had to be at least a three knifer, but the true question was, is it four or five? Well, if parking were factored in, most certainly not, because it’s a major bitch. And you can forget all about that little lot over by the Thai House that’s always more jam-packed than a drug mule’s colon. So your best bet is across the street and down a touch, over by Star Bagel, since they’re closed for dinner and it’d be a shame to let all of that parking go to waste.

Speaking of space being at a premium, the restaurant itself is quite small as well, which wouldn’t normally be an issue for me, but it’s also pretty lacking in the personality department, making it a modicum nicer than the inside of a shoe box.

But the warmth that’s missing from the décor came from our server in spades, who was not only friendly, she was also spot on with the recommendations. Unfortunately, however, even as well intentioned as the staff was, the service itself is actually a bit spotty, getting both pepper and grated cheese in my wife’s water (so much so that it needed to be replaced) and forgetting to bring out our pasta course before the dessert menu.

In terms of the food, this is where L’inizio shined. Starting with a nice, moist focaccia and grassy olive oil to whet the palate. After that, we doubled down on bread opting for the ricotta with acacia honey, a simple, but wonderful Italian go-to that definitely hit the mark, but I have to say, the chef went a little stingy on the honey.

Next up came the charred endive salad with dates (or more accurately, date in singular form), which was excellent, but again, thin on the one ingredient that made it so interesting, the date.

The recommended octopus was also fantastic, sort of similar in preparation to the one at Charlie Bird in the city, only MUCH better, because there’s so much more going on. The heat from the peppers, the brightness and crunch from the celery. The creaminess of the humus. Even a slight note of sweetness. My only gripe being, you guessed it, a little too light on the octopus. A theme of the joint I suppose? Keep ‘em wanting more? Only I think the chef doesn’t truly get the intent of that saying.

As for pastas, the cavatelli was a bit of a snore compared to the much more flavorful parpadelle with lamb ragu, pine nuts and raisins. The anomaly of the night, because it was shockingly generous with the lamb.

We ended the evening with another great reco, the date cake with sweet mascarpone (pictured), sitting in a pool of caramel sweetness. It was divine. Which is a bit of a hoity-toity phrase for me, I gotta be honest. Almost feels like I should be typing it with a New England lockjaw. But it really was kickass. There. That’s better.

It’s no Cookery and there are many kinks still to work out, but there is not even a shadow of a doubt that this chef knows what he’s doing, even if he cheaps out a bit on the goodies. So my advice to you, go. My advice to the chef, let it go…LET IT GO! Let your yummy ingredients flow! (to be sung like Elsa from Frozen). Do that, and I’ll up you to four knives, because it’s holding you back from true greatness.

3 teeth

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Leopold’s Ice Cream

212 E Broughton St. Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 234-4442leopoldsicecream.com

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Once upon a time I used to work at one of the best ice cream parlors in the country, East India in Winter Park, Florida. The inventors of Oreo Ice Cream. I know according to Wikipedia Emack & Bolio’s in Boston claims they did it in 1975 and Huggs McShane from Portland claims they did it in 1978 but I can assure you they were both behind East India who had already been serving it for years by 1974.

The reason I bring this up is that I think it gives me unofficial ice cream expert credentials. So, if a court case were to ever break out over ice cream, I believe that I could serve as an expert witness if need be. Thus, it is with great pride and self-proclaimed expertise that I give a resounding two thumbs up to Leopold’s. Even with all the hype, Leopold’s sailed over the bar. Every flavor we tried was a work of frozen magic. Disney’s Elsa, eat your heart out.

My favorite was the Rum Bisque, made with a serious doses of actual rum, making it a clever way to circumvent open container laws. Another clever touch is the addition of hazelnut macaroon chunks throughout, making it more addictive than the alcohol within, if that’s even possible.

A very close second was the Honey & Almond (pictured). So rich with honey, if your eyes were closed you’d swear your tongue was halfway up the ass of a queen bee. But in a good way. It’s just awesome. Almost hard to believe how pure the flavor is, but I guess it’s to be expected from a town that prides itself so strongly on the sticky stuff.

And last but not least, the chocolate chocolate chip. A bit less inventive than the first two, but every bit as delish in its own right. Made with decadent chunks of dark chocolate folded into a rich, creamy ball of cocoa bliss. Screw Coco Puffs. This will make you certifiable for certain.

***Okay, year two and once again we made the pilgrimage to Leopold’s, this time trying a few new flavors, all of which proven to only further solidify my love for this former Hollywood Producer turned ice cream tycoon. The best of the new three being the Frozen Hot Chocolate, complete with marshmallows, of course. It’s basically Rocky Road without the rocks (walnuts). Next for me would be the Pistachio, loaded to the gills with chunks of actual pistachios. And finally, the plain old chocolate. It’s good for what it is, but a touch boring comparatively. But you really can’t go wrong here, no matter what you choose, so feel free to let your cravings guide you.

5 teeth