A beautiful Technicolor harbinger of spring, the annual Orchid Show runs at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx March 3rd thru April 27th. I look forward to visiting NYBG, walking thru the beautifully restored Enid Haupt Conservatory and beholding the seductive floral arrangements and dramatic plantings. (For additional info: www.nybg.org) After taking in all that beauty, we do get hungry. So where do we dine? Here are a few suggestions…
STARR DINING PAVILLIONS at NYBG!
Ever since restaurant rock star Stephen Starr took over the food service concessions at NYBG, hungry visitors have been taking note. Starr made a big name for himself in Philadelphia where he owns several power house restaurants including his retro: Continental. He is also represented in Atlantic City at Buddakan, and in Washington, D.C. at the hot new Le Diplomate where we enjoyed a wonderful French brasserie brunch recently. He has premiered themed Dining Pavilions throughout the park and near the Enid Haupt Pavilion: the casual Pine Tree Café and a more formal dining room with waiter service called Hudson Garden Grill serving an eclectic American menu with locally sourced ingredients. Open daily. Check it out online.
2342 Arthur Ave., Bronx
Since 1919 five generations of the Migliucci family have worked the front and back-of-the-house making sure patrons are well served at this venerable Little Italy institution. Amiable Joe Migliucci, the current patriarch, is there with his wife Barbara, daughter Regina and sons Michael and Mario. To many, the flavorful sauces and gravies produced in this kitchen are the stuff of Italian ‘foodie heaven’. And for those in the know, the old-world menu also holds many surprises. For starters enjoy the palate pleasing lagniappe of marinated carrots, hot peppers and good crusty Arthur Ave. bread. www.mariosrestarthurave.com
ARTIE’S STEAK & SEAFOOD 394 City Island Ave., Bronx 718-885-9885
It’s right in the middle of City Island, the charming seaport village near Orchid Beach. Owner Spiro Chagares and his staff offer patrons an inspired melding of traditional and contemporary dishes served with flair. Sit back in one of several refurbished dining areas and enjoy such changing specialties as: hearty Seafood Chowders; Smoked Salmon Roll-Ups; Wood Grilled Jumbo Shrimp and Scallops; hunks of tender Short Rib; a massive Zuppa Di Pesce; tender Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb; Chardonnay Poached Salmon with seafood; and fresh Lobster prepared in a variety of styles. There’s a loaded Lobster Salad Roll at lunch and their Mediterranean style Pizzas are good to share, too. Check out the redesigned bar/lounge most evenings for good networking. Private party facilities. Off premise catering. Open 7 days. Free parking. www.artiescityisland.com
156 Fifth Ave., Pelham
Prime 16 in Pelham espouses the virtues of ‘gourmet’ burgers, tavern specialties and local craft beers which are updated regularly. Changing starters include: meaty Chicken Wings with choice of such sauces, and Ahi Tuna Tacos. Fresh prepared salads include: California Cobb and Kale Caesar. Delicious 8 oz. Burgers include: All American, topped with Vermont aged white cheddar, butterhead lettuce and sliced tomato, topped with Elm City yellow mustard & smoked ketchup; and The Smoker, topped with smoked Gouda, smoked Applewood bacon, sautéed onion, sautéed crimini mushrooms, romaine & sliced tomato with a side of garlic aioli. You can also ‘Build Your Own Burger’. There is a Craft Beer Happy Hour offered Monday thru Friday from 4 pm to 7 pm featuring ½ priced drafts, select wines and 12-piece wings. www.prime16.com
FLORIO’S OLDE STONE MILL
2 Scarsdale Avenue
Florio Rugova, a veteran of the hospitality business, has assumed management of the landmark Olde Stone Mill Restaurant in Tuckahoe and he has been busy refining the menu. It will become known as Florio’s at the Olde Stone Mill. Florio previously managed La Fontanella in Pelham. Most recently, he was affiliated with Jordan Hall 10803, also in Pelham. Olde Stone Mill has evolved into an Italian/American kitchen with Continental overtones. The bar/lounge is wood and stone. A passageway leads to the lovely 85-seat main dining room with airy picture windows, piano, warming hearth and beautiful table settings. The airy atrium room has become a popular gathering place, too. Look for such new specialties as: Clams Casino, Pork Osso Bucco, and Vitello Oscar Portions are generous. Seasonal outdoor patio. There are private party accommodations. Open daily for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Free parking. www.theoldestonemill.com
(Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)