So many restaurants are coming to town that it’s hard to keep up,
so I’ll bring you up to date. Four eateries of all types have opened in the
past month in both Port Chester and Rye Brook, another will be opening its
doors any day, three more should be doing business in the spring, another in
the summer and another sometime in the future. Besides all of those, a
successful Mexican restaurant is planning to expand.
Wingstop opened Dec.
14 as planned at 10-12 Abendroth Ave. I tried a few wings from there last month
and thought they were decent, but I haven’t yet given the franchise’s first
Westchester location a fair shake, so I’ll do that at a later date. My intent
is to do a comparison between their wings and those at nearby Buffalo Wild
Jan. 10 was the opening date for IncAzteca, the combination Peruvian-Mexican eatery taking the place
of Sichuan Pavilion at 480 Westchester Ave.
The husband and wife team of Paola and Guadelupe Velasco of Port
Chester have been working since August to make this small standalone space,
combining their two ethnic backgrounds, their own.
Paola has the business acumen which she has sharpened working in
the accounting department at Whole Foods in Port Chester while Guadelupe has gotten
plenty of experience in the kitchen at all types of restaurants over the past
Neat and simply decorated, IncAzteca has a large menu featuring traditional
dishes from Mexico and Peru as well as combinations of the two such as nachos,
a Mexican specialty, topped with pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken), a
Peruvian one. The small restaurant seats up to 19 people and offers takeout and
delivery as well.
When I scanned the menu looking for what to choose (there are
many interesting options), one thing stood out: Incazteca ($16.95), the chef’s
signature dish. My husband and I also split the quinoa salad ($8.95). Both were
huge portions worthy of recommendation.
IncAzteca, a satisfying mélange, consists of multiple pieces of breaded
chicken breast stuffed with cheese and chorizo in a chorizo cream sauce served
over Peruvian fried rice accompanied by perfectly cooked sautéed string beans.
The salad blends tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, fava beans, string
beans and peppers topped with white and black quinoa, all tossed in a mildly-flavored
We started the meal with a typical Mexican appetizer: Coctel de
camarones ($9.95). Chopped shrimp, onions, tomato, cilantro and avocado look so
attractive served in a bright red tomato sauce in an old-fashioned champagne
glass with lime wedges and crackers on the side. My only criticism: the tomato
sauce overpowers the other ingredients.
IncAzteca does not have a liquor license, but I enjoyed horchata
($2), sweet Mexican rice water, which also comes in tamarind flavor.
I’ll be back to sample some of the other ethnic delicacies on the
menu which is heavy on the seafood but also includes chicken, beef and pork
dishes as well as pastas and Mexican street food like tostadas, tacos, tortas,
sopes and huaraches (an oblong, fried masa base with a variety
of toppings). I also noticed homemade empanadas and desserts in a display case.
One concern at IncAzteca is that
the heat was uneven. It started out comfortable, then turned cold and
eventually warmed up again on the night we visited.
IncAzteca is open seven days for
breakfast, lunch and dinner. Starting time is 7 a.m. and closing time is 10
p.m. each day.
Dig Inn, the farm to
table, locally sourced, organic, vegetable-centric, fast casual restaurant, made
its first public appearance at the Rye Ridge Shopping Center on Jan. 12
following a preview lunch two days before where founder and CEO Adam Eskin
popped in unobtrusively.
At the lunch my husband and I sampled a few of the vegetable
charcuterie ($7.45 each), among them the Yukon Gold Potato Terrine (Acme smoked
salmon, crème fraiche and Mutsu apple) and Parsnip Marrow Bone—celery leaf and
black truffle on a chunk of parsnip—plus a tasty toast topped with lemon
ricotta, truffle, black pepper and honey ($7.92 each). Each of these delicately
flavored edibles disappeared in a few bites.
The more substantial Marketbowl, Dig Inn’s signature dish “sourced
from farmers and friends we have come to know and love,” according to Culinary
Director Matt Weingarten, range in price from $9.78-$12.81. They allow you the
choice of a base, two market sides and a protein, which is amply filling, for
the base price. Or you can add more ingredients at additional cost. My Marketbowl
consisted of toasted farro with butternut squash and celery as the base; kale,
apple and blue cheese plus Brussels sprouts with maple and Sriracha (hot sauce
for a little spice) as the sides and three slices of herb roasted chicken
breast as the protein. It was served in a pretty beige, brown and cream-colored
ceramic bowl, and everything was fresh, top notch and tasted healthy and
Drinks included an iced Matcha latte ($5.12) made with organic
Matcha green tea powder mixed with steamed almond milk for a frothy mixture and
luscious organic dark hot chocolate ($4.66), both delightful. These are among
the many choices of iced and hot coffees and teas on the menu. There is also
boxed water, coconut water, seltzer, ginger mint lemonade, juices and a limited
selection of beer, wine and cider.
The offerings also feature Broth Bowls and Broth Cups, a Little
Digs menu for kids or light eaters highlighted by Goofballs made with classic
brown rice, Upstate Mac & Cheese and Happy Valley meatballs ($6.75) and
snacks such as an almond butter and banana sandwich ($5.59) or sweet & sour
cranberry pops ($3.73) in addition to daily seasonal specials.
We returned for breakfast where we got a better taste of the
operation. Just like Chipotle and Chop’t, you stand in line to place your
order. Here it is brought to your table if it will take a while and you pick up
your beverages at another station. I had a Pumpkin Bowl ($7.92) consisting of
Greek yogurt, pumpkin and its seeds, popped quinoa, banana, dates, groats (hulled
kernels of various cereal grains) and autumn spices accompanied by a latte
($3.73). The Pumpkin Bowl provided an exquisite blend of flavors and textures and
included many of my favorite foods.
My husband was not nearly as satisfied by The Egg Sandwich (one
over easy farm egg on a brioche roll with lemon zest ricotta at $6.05) with two
pieces of Niman Ranch bacon ($1.86). His critique: the egg was too runny and
the flavors too delicate. He would prefer a bacon and egg on a hard roll any
I am anxious to return to try a Gluten-Free Quinoa Waffle with
lemon zest ricotta and Square Deal Farm maple syrup ($6.52).
The menus change seasonally to take advantage of each season’s
fresh fruit and vegetable offerings.
One thing that doesn’t change is the Kitchen Sink Cookie. It
isn’t on the menu but is Dig Inn’s only dessert made from “every oat you can
name,” I was told, plus chocolate chips. Served warm, it was mmm, mmm, good.
Why the odd prices? Because when you add the tax, they come out
to an even number.
The Dig Inn space is bright and cheery with a huge open kitchen, lots
of windows in the front, a skylight that was added to the dining room in the
back and many communal tables as well as some individual ones with either
comfortable benches or chairs. Cactuses in small pots adorn each table.
Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10:30
a.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch and dinner is served
daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. I think breakfast should be served later,
especially on Sunday.
Rye Brook is Dig Inn’s first location in the suburbs, but I
overheard a meeting in which a manager told some new hires that they plan to
open six more restaurants in the next six months. Besides Rye Brook, there are currently
12 in New York City and one in Boston.
The founder and CEO is a former Merrill Lynch trader who always
had an interest in healthy living.
Rela Cafe, named for
the niece of one of the owners, has gone into the space where Arrosto closed up
shop at 25 South Regent St. about a year and a half ago. With its primarily
American menu, in addition to pizza from the preexisting wood-burning oven and
a selection of pastas, this new restaurant has something for everyone. It
opened Jan. 16.
Considering Rela seats 233 inside and another 64 on the sidewalk out
front under an awning, this diverse menu is a good thing. So are the reasonable
My husband and I visited on their first Friday night and were
more than satisfied with the food and accommodating service. The waiters didn’t
have all the answers, but considering it was the restaurant’s first weekend,
the operation ran quite smoothly.
From the expertly crafted cocktails, to the meaty Prince Edward
Island mussels in Rela’s Classic shallot, garlic, white wine and herb butter
sauce ($10), to the overstuffed and lightly dressed Classic New England Lobster
Roll ($24), to the perfectly spiced Chicken, Shrimp, Crabmeat and Andouille
Sausage Gumbo with rice ($21), everything was spectacular.
Cousins Ben Gashi of Stamford and Denard Kralani of North Salem,
who both hail from Kosovo, have been working quietly for the past four months
to open their restaurant where many popular eateries have come before, most
notably The Sawpit, which occupied the space for many years.
Gashi, who is the managing partner, has been in the restaurant
business since he came to this country almost 15 years ago, starting as a busboy
and working his way up. “That’s the only way to do it,” he said.
In fact, he worked as a waiter at this same location when it was
“I loved it because of the big parking lot,” he said. “There are
over 100 parking spots. You don’t find that anyplace in Westchester.”
Westchester and Fairfield counties “are my favorite counties in
America,” he said, after having previously lived in four other states. He has
high aspirations because he didn’t leave his country just for the same job he
could have had there. “I came here to do something better.”
Gashi and Kralani didn’t make too many changes to the interior of
the already-attractive restaurant, just did some sprucing up, but they did have
extensive work to do in the kitchen which held up the opening a few months.
While this is Gashi’s first restaurant, his partner, who has been
in the business over 20 years, owns the highly-rated Barnwood Grill in Newtown,
After a week in business, on Monday, Jan. 23, Rela opened for
lunch. The hours are now Monday-Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday from
11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday from 5-11 p.m. and Sunday from 3-9 p.m. The
partners are currently working on a separate lunch menu.
Because of the restaurant’s large size, Rela can accommodate
parties in a private room for 50-70 people and bigger parties by closing off a
section of the restaurant. Gashi said they can design meals in any price range
depending on your budget.
Brandi Trattoria at 50
Abendroth Ave. and its sister Brandi
Pizzeria facing North Main Street should be opening any day. When I went by
on Sunday, Jan. 22, the door was locked, but a gentleman who managed to get
inside because he obviously works there said it should be opening soon,
although he couldn’t say when.
Grill has signed a long-term
lease for almost 3,200 square feet in Rye Plaza at the back of the Rye Ridge
Cava Grill is a Washington, D.C.-based
Mediterranean, healthy, fast casual food concept that serves assembly line
customizable Mediterranean pitas filled with ingredients such as braised lamb,
falafel, harissa, tzatziki and an array of fresh vegetables, many of which are
locally sourced. In addition, they sell a line of dips and spreads found in
gourmet grocery stores.
The Rye Plaza location will be the concept’s
29th announced eatery. Currently they have locations open or opening
soon in California, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York and
Virginia. Rye Plaza will be the chain’s first suburban NYC location. Rye Ridge
Shopping Center has served as the first suburban NYC location for other
successful food concepts such as Chipotle, Chop’t and Dig Inn.
“The Rye Ridge Shopping Center, Plaza and
South continues to be the dominant influence setting the standard for other
shopping and eating environments,” said Erin Hinchey, leasing representative
for the complex. “The best new concepts come here first.”
Hinchey feels Cava Grill will be a good fit
for the health conscious shopper at Rye Ridge.
Cava Grill anticipates a spring opening in a
space that will combine the former PTI (Physical Training Institute) and
PostNet. PostNet will relocate into the former Club Sandwich location.
The owners of Rye House
will be taking over Port Chester Hall-turned Heartland Black + Gold at the Port
Chester train station on Broad Street. It strangely closed “for the season” in
July 2016. The plan is to rename the destination Station House. No more details right now, but the goal is to have
it open in time to take advantage of the warm weather and to maintain it as a
restaurant and beer garden. I’m excited. All the work that went into making the
newly-constructed pavilion adjacent to the railroad station conform to a strict
set of standards because of the building’s National Historic Register status
plus the months required to replace the old asbestos-laden roof shot the
renovation price tag up to a reported $6 million. It’s been a shame to see the
now-attractive edifice sitting empty, but I felt the previous owner, who was
initially so excited about the concept, didn’t try hard enough to make it work.
Hopefully the Rye House people can make a go of it.
A sign in the window of the long-shuttered El Tesoro Salvadoran
restaurant on Purdy Avenue indicates that Noma’s
American & Mexican Cousine (sic) will be coming soon.
In addition, the tiny but successful Salsa Picante on Adee Street intends to break through the wall into
the space next door that used to be CV Vape Den to create a larger Mexican
Let’s not forget that G&S Investors is in the final approval
stages for a 5,500-square-foot building on the triangular piece of property off
the marina parking lot it plans to construct for Colony Grill, which will face the waters of the Byram River. Colony
Grill, “home of the original hot oil bar pie,” serves only pizza and drinks. It
currently has locations in Stamford, Norwalk, Fairfield and Milford,
Connecticut and would like to be up and running in Port Chester by the summer.
Finally, a scheme to put a restaurant in the historic Mutual Trust Company of Westchester County
bank building in Port Chester’s Liberty Square, which includes removing the
tower next door and creating some residential units as well, is before the