Crabtree Kittle House

11 Kittle Rd. Chappaqua, NY 10514(914) 666-8044kittlehouse.com

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I was very nervous to try this restaurant because so many Westchester restaurants have inflated praise on Yelp. Well, I am happy to report that this was the exception, not the rule. Crabtree is the real deal. From the moment we arrived, we were treated in accordance with the restaurant’s reputation. Decor is a little dated, and it’s a crying shame that they have acoustic tile on the ceiling in the dining room, but apart from that, I found the setting to be charming and the service to be great.

As for the food, it was a touch hit and miss, but mostly hits. And the misses were never bad. Just “eh.” Here’s the break down:

The Gnudi was terrific. The seared foie gras, while solid, was nothing above and beyond. But it is foie gras, so it’s hard to be anything less than great. The scallops were phenomenal! The best of the three apps.

The venison entree was a tad under-sauced, and thus bland without. But when you got a bite with sauce, it was quite good. The swordfish was excellent. A wonderful combination of flavors. Unfortunately, the trout was not. The weakest dish of the night. Flavorless compared to everything else.

And for dessert the chocolate gift and the crack pie were both very good, although both came with the wrong accoutrements. The coconut ice cream overpowers the crack pie (pecan pie without the pecans- heavily influenced by Mr. Momofuku), but goes beautifully with the chocolate gift. And conversely, the whipped cream on the chocolate gift was much better suited to the crack pie.

So all in, a great meal. And we will most definitely return. Thank you Crabtree for living up to the hype.

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The Ultimate Pasta Dish

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Piccolo – Venice, CA

Unlike the other pastas on this list, Piccolo’s Venison, Clove and Cinnamon Pasta is a bit on the wintery side. And after the insanely brutal winter we just endured I’m sure about half of you just skipped to the next one. Well, your loss. This pasta is truly something special. And unique. I haven’t had anything like it anywhere. Nor have I ever even seen it on a menu since. But I can tell you this, shitty winter or not, next time I’m at Piccolo, I’m getting it again.

Capo – Santa Monica, CA

The Quattro Fromaggi is like a pillowcase stuffed with dreams. Only the case is made of pasta and the dreams are made from four of the creamiest cheeses to ever explode in your mouth. It’s literally as if fireworks made of cheese are putting on a show for your taste buds. And it’s about a dozen other metaphors I could think of as well, but some of them are sexual and gross, so perhaps the single most compelling thing I can say is this: One time my wife couldn’t make the trip to LA with me, so I begged the chef to vacuum seal an order of the pasta, so I could fly back with it and she could have it at home. Yes, it’s THAT good. And yes, I remind her of that every time I do something stupid… So about once a day.

NoMad – New York, NY

The crab pasta is so deceptively simple that you’ll likely overlook it on the menu. Well, that is, unless you heed my advice. So what makes this pasta all that? Balance. Proportions. It is a clinic on the alchemy of cooking, made effortless by the way its impeccable ingredients come together. The spicy hit from the black pepper. The acidity from the lemon. The tender, meaty, saltiness of the crabmeat. And the starchy, crunchy bed of al dente pasta. It’s simply divine.

Osteria – Philadelphia, PA

You won’t find it on the menu, which only makes it that much more fun to order, because you’ll impress anyone else at the table who’s not in the know. And impress them you will, because it’s easily the best thing they make. Now, for some of you, here’s the rub. It’s chicken liver pasta. But wait, wait, wait! It’s friggin’ awesome chicken liver pasta. So rich and savory. I mean if there was ever a time to give chicken livers their day in court, this is it.

Manzo – New York, NY

It’s not often that you come across a pasta that can hold its own in the company of steak and pork belly. But the anglionotti at Manzo does so quite handily. As if the juices from a perfectly cooked rib eye were somehow magically injected into the dumplings, so when you bite into them, it’s that exact same sensation you get when you bite into a wonderful, medium rare cut. Bellissimo!