Sometimes I have to scratch my head about Mario Batali. He’s done some fairly odd things (e.g., worn those atrocious orange Crocs all of the time, befriended Gwyneth Paltrow, lacked the foresight to arrange the space in Eataly to not form lines a la Space Mountain), but I’ll have to forgive him. The positive experience we had at Eataly makes up for some of these quirks.
If you’ve ever trailed front-of-house at any of Batali’s restaurants, you’ll know the configuration of the tables as modular and out-of-the-box as your suburban shopping center. Approximately 10 small tables constitute the bar area, where pizza and antipasti are served. Those wishing to order more substantial items from the menu are seated in the main dining room downstairs or in another seating area upstairs.
Our maitre d’ committed a small error by leading us to a table that was not yet ready for service. Because it was Mother’s Day, the restaurant was still fairly crowded, so we were seated at one of the booth-style tables (it is closer to the bar, but can be used for full dinner service).
Batali-Bastianich restaurant collaborations are known for their outstanding wine selections, and Tarry Lodge is no exception. Although I love my mother dearly, I am unable to express this sentiment through a $1500 Barolo (yet). Instead, we ordered a bottle of 2007 Aragone La Mozza, later followed by a glass of Barolo once the bottle was finished.
We were going to order a ton of food (as is characteristic of most of my family’s gatherings), and my mother really had her heart set on an antipasti spread. We ordered the Eggplant Caponata, Sweet Peppers, Frutti di Mare, Prosciutto di Parma, and Beets Agrodolce. All were prepared exceptionally well, although the lightly-marinated, colorful sweet peppers and the hearty, ratatouille-like caponata were my favorites.
For my first course, I ordered the pumpkin fiore – perfect daisy-shaped pouches filled with delightfully sweet pumpkin filling, served in a wonderfully savory sage butter sauce. As a fanatic of all things pumpkin, I could eat this particular pasta for any meal. My parents shared the black fettuccine with rock shrimp and chilis. Because the portion is large, it was the perfect size for the two of them to share. I did some inter-table bartering and traded a few fiore for some of the fettuccine. It definitely had a spicy kick to it and the pasta was so-so fresh!
Not only do most family dinners involve copious amounts of food, but there will always be the one family member hassling me about my lack of meat intake. To appease my dad (although I’ll admit the description sounded delicious), I ordered the Osso Buco alla Milanese, which was served over a very springtime-like sweet pea fregula. I did have to trim away a bit of fat, but the osso buco was tender, succulent, and juicy. The pea fregula, although very refreshing with such a heavy dish, was a bit too salty for me.
We were dining relatively late for Westchester standards, and therefore the kitchen was out of the Apple Crostada when it was time for dessert. We settled on the Chocolate Cake with bitter oranges and the Panettone Pudding. The chocolate cake was slightly molten in the middle and served with pistachio ice cream; one could argue that it was a distant cousin of Jean Georges’ famous cake. The dark, slightly bitter chocolate worked well with the oranges. I’ll admit I was skeptical about the Panettone Pudding, as panettone is something reserved for gifting your enemies around Christmas. The dessert was a bit sweeter than I would have thought, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked with the dulce de leche ice cream.
My only issue with service was that as the restaurant was emptying out, one of our waiters forgot to do some of the little things, such as refill our water glasses and give us new silverware. Not only did I have to wait 10 minutes for water, but it was something that I had to bring to his attention.
Despite some of these service flaws and a decidedly stereotypical Westchester clientele (MILFs accompanied by kids who attend Holy Child), it is always exciting to know that one does not have to take Metro North to Manhattan to have a quality dinner.
The restaurant is within walking distance from Metro North.
Price: Without wine, expect to pay around $60 per person for appetizers, entree, and dessert.