By Robert Hirschfield
DiNardo’s Ristorante Italiano, in Pound Ridge, New York has a split personality. On one hand there’s the Pizza Room, attractively causal and a popular lunch or dinner spot, especially for families with kids. It’s a large, pleasant room looking out on Route 124, where you can order pizza, sandwiches and salads, as well as anything else from a large and diver menu. On the other hand, there’s the more elegant dining area, with the ambience of a well-appointed, comfortable country inn-refined but not stiff or formal. Here, there’s snowy linen on the tables, brick-lined archways connecting the large, low-ceilinged rooms and attractive art adorning the walls. The difference between rooms, however, is mostly atmosphere.
Owner Frank Salvi maintains a uniformly high quality of food and service, whenever you choose to eat! The result is that DiNardo’s is and had been for many years, a Northern Westchester favorite. When we ate there, we notices that many customers were regulars, on a first-name basis with the attentive, experienced staff. Apparently, the patrons are happy enough to keep coming back.
We weren’t regulars, but we quickly felt right at home. A basket of warm, crusty bread appeared on our table before we unfolded our napkins, accompanied by a spread that’s a house trademark, made with pureed red onions and balsamic vinegar. Our waiter told us that butter was available, but once we’d dabbed the tangy puree on a piece of bread, we had no further interest in butter. The spread was habit forming. I think that it may also have been lighter and healthier.
Though we arrived late on a weeknight, the list was long, between appetizers and main course, there were a good dozen and everything was available. We started by splitting a cold antipasto- a tasty array of pepperoni and sausage, marinated mushrooms, cheese, tomato, olives and other goodies, featuring fresh and delicious mozzarella. The minestrone, varying with the season and using the best available seasonal vegetables, was robust and savory. The flavor of grilled portbello mushrooms slice was enhanced, no overwhelmed, by its marinade.
From the specials, we ordered swordfish steak, which was broiled perfectly to order, moist and well seasoned. It came with excellent ratatouille, a good match. I’ve always thought that a restaurant’s veal can be an accurate measure of the restaurant. The veal piccata here certainly reflected a high standard. The white meat was thinly sliced and tender, with a sauce with just the right lemony tang. Main courses come with a wide choice of side dishes. We had luscious escarole, fried potatoes and string beans; we could have had other, like spaghetti Bolognese, but were happy with our choices.
The dessert menu includes both pastries and frozen desserts; we shared a delicious lemon sorbet served in a hollowed-out half lemon-an ideal final course. Our espresso we brought to the table with a bottle of anisette and two liqueur glasses, courtesy of the management.