holiday bites and pieces

The holiday season is here, so whether you’ve been naughty or nice, it’s time to make plans with friends and family. If you are going out, here are some festive suggestions for every palate, each offering a good dose of holiday cheer…

A Holiday with Truffles at Le Sirene
The buzz has been spreading among food aficionados throughout the area. The Fratelli and Bruno have combined their considerable talents in opening Le Sirene Ristorante on Palmer Avenue in Larchmont. The Bruno family are veteran restaurateurs who also own such venerable Italian dining rooms as San Pietro, Caravaggio and Sistina in Manhattan. They have ties to their native Southern Italy and they know how to cook in the authentic Italian way. “Let natural food flavors express themselves,” is their culinary philosophy. Owner Cosimo Bruno is general manager and host, but also shares kitchen duties with talented Executive Chef Alberto Pepe. Hospitable Maitre d’ is Gabriele Pepe. Let the warmth guide you to your seat and let the professional staff give you a tour of their regional Italian menu. The Brunos know their wines. Cosimo Bruno is also a Certified Sommelier. The ‘pizzaoli’ is at his wood-fired pizza oven at the end of the bar, ready to prepare over a dozen of his tasty artisanal pies. Request one with shaved truffles on top. Le Sirene is located at 1957 Palmer Ave., Larchmont. 914-834-8300;

Holidays Croatian-Style at Dubrovnik
For years, Jerry Tomic, a native of Croatia, dreamed of bringing a true taste of home to Westchester. He premiered Dubrovnik and it became a hit: Westchester’s first restaurant devoted to Croatia, a multi-level 85-seat establishment with seasonal outdoor patio, state-of-the-art temperature-controlled wine cellar, a wood burning rotisserie barbecue, lush seasonal herb garden, and bar/lounge. Talented Chef Antonio Selendec will transport you to the beautiful Adriatic in flavorful style. General manager Nada Bernic insists on using all the finest ingredients in the seasonal marketplace. Most everything is house-made, from the bread to the desserts. Try the warm octopus salad; steamed mussels; bay scallops on the shell; fresh cod filet with grapes, olives, and pearl onions; holiday-style fresh salmon; Mama Tereza’s lobster, shrimp, scallops, fish, clams and mussels, steamed in a seasonal broth over pasta; grilled rack of lamb; or whole roasted fish prepared out on the barbecue. A special four-course dinner will be served Christmas Eve. A gala New Year’s Eve Celebration includes five-course dinner, live entertainment. Open seven days for lunch and dinner. Happy Hours. Reservations suggested. Private party facilities. Valet parking. Dubrovnik is located at 721 Main St., New Rochelle. 914-637-3777;

Mulino’s Annual Holiday Fest is Underway
It is over the top at Mulino’s of Westchester in White Plains during the holidays. And it begins with the bright glittering lights and smell of chestnuts roasting at the entryway. Take home a bag of them – fresh from the roaster. The annual Christmas Holiday Fest at Mulino’s lasts right through the season and it’s a sight to behold for the whole family! The fountain garden is beautiful as is the lavish dining room and bar/ lounge. General Manager Gimmy Cavagna and his staff are keeping the premises spiffy as ever: gesticulating Christmas decorations galore (see photo above), holiday carolers, life-size toy soldiers, bursting colorful floral displays, sparkling grappa and glassware collection, the handsome multi-level seating area. A special holiday menu is served and perhaps for dessert their smooth Italian cheesecake. Open seven days. Bring the whole family. The place sparkles! Valet parking. Reservations advised. Mulino’s of Westchester is located at 99 Court St., White Plains 914-761-1818;

Holidays the French Way at La Panetiere
You can pre-order a traditional buche de Noel for up to ten people for $45. Or reserve a table for the glittering Christmas Eve lunch (noon to 2pm),  dinner (5:30 to 8pm), or Christmas Day (noon to 8pm). Pull up to La Panetiere in Rye to relish its holiday landscaping and the charm of entering the beautifully decorated dining rooms. Jacques Loupiac’s long-running bastion of French cuisine in Rye will create an unforgettable experience. The professional staff, led by Cheryl Just and Stephane, the genial maître d’, and Chef Dean Loupiac will help customize your gathering. Each course is artfully plated. A lovely setting. It’s the best way to visit Paris without leaving Westchester. La Panetiere is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, Monday evening thru Sunday. Private party facilities. Catering. Bar/lounge. Take out. Major credit cards. Ample parking. Reservations advised. La Panetiere is located at 530 Milton Road, Rye. 914-967-8140;

Festive Holiday Fare at Tesoro D’Italia
The holidays start at the colorful entryway. Walk into a warm greeting by a veteran restaurant team at Tesoro D’Italia Ristorante, a casual family-friendly Italian restaurant in Pleasantville. Heading the day-to-day operation is Peter Lucaj who had been general manager of Ciao Ristorante in Eastchester. Chef de Cuisine is seasoned Dan Pennacchio . The restaurant is divided into a main dining room for 100 guests, a semi-private fireplace room for up to 40 guests, and a lovely glass enclosed wine room seating up to 25. A spacious banquet room can accommodate 130 for all types of parties and private events. There is an inviting color-tiled bar/lounge area for networking and spirited conversation, and casual dining too. A dramatic wine wall highlights the dining room along with smoked glass dividers and white tablecloths. Grey and white hues help polish the space. Open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Ample free parking. Tesoro d’Italia is located at 160 Marble Ave., Pleasantville. 914-579-2126;

Lobster and Cheer at Artie’s on City Island
This restaurant would thrive anywhere and it’s right in the middle of City Island. The Zagat N.Y.C. Restaurant Survey designated Artie’s Steak & Seafood one of the best in the Bronx. 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 for sharing, too. Check out the redesigned bar/lounge most evenings: good for networking. Private party facilities. Off premise catering. Open seven days. Free parking. Artie’s is located at 394 City Island Ave., Bronx 718-885-9885;

A Holiday Taste of India at Mughal Palace
Celebrate the season with flavors of India. Owner Mohammed Alam is serving flavorful regional specialties all month long. The all-you-can-eat Indian brunch will be served from 11:30 am to 3 pm, with more than a dozen selections: from salad and main courses to desserts with all the trimmings. The cost is $15.95 per person. Dinner is a la carte and begins at 5 pm. Look for such specialties as lasuni gobi, cauliflower florets tossed with bell peppers, onion, garlic and green herbs; chicken barbecue kebob, marinated boneless chicken cooked in the tandoor oven; lamb bhuna, pieces of lamb cooked in a medium-spiced sauce of bell peppers, tomatoes and fresh Indian herbs; and mango chicken, boneless chunks of chicken cooked with fresh mango, ginger, garlic and dry spices. A glass of lassi with help wash it all down, and don’t forget the delicious house-made Indian breads to scoop up the sauces. Mughal Palace is a fine venue to enjoy the exotic sights, sounds, scents and flavors of regional India. Bar/cocktails. Open seven days. Mughal Palace is located at 16 Broadway, Valhalla. 914-997-6090;

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