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You can dine al fresco at 43 village restaurants
By Jananne Abel
Cousin Frankie’s USA Grill’s patio in the shoppers’ parking lot behind Q and Misti at 112 Willett Ave. continues the restaurant’s patriotic theme.
The well-landscaped patio shared by nessa and Port Chester’s latest arrival on the restaurant scene, the Italian coffee shop zeppoleme at 321 North Main St.
In the Northeast, outdoor eating is generally associated with summer, even though when I start gathering information for this section in July, it's often too hot to even consider eating outside. I'm a hardcore al fresco dining enthusiast, but even I could not have tolerated the nearly 100-degree temperatures and high humidity of the last few weeks at an outdoor venue. That's why I found most of these areas empty when I snapped my pictures.
This week was somewhat better, and by the time this section is on the street, hopefully the temperatures and humidity will have dropped and people will again be flocking to the 43 places in Port Chester and Rye Brook that offer a place to enjoy your meal in the balmy air.
From a few simple tables and chairs set up outside a restaurant on the sidewalk to fancy decks with heat lamps that allow for the extension of the outside eating season, there's something for everyone. From April to October, restaurants with outdoor seating are definitely in demand.
In the 16 years I've been writing this feature, the number of sidewalk cafés, patios and decks has nearly doubled from 23 to 43 of the 125 total eateries that now exist in the two villages. The phenomenon caught on in 1997 when the Port Chester Board of Trustees encouraged sidewalk cafés through special legislation. Since then the number has gradually moved upward, ebbing and flowing each year as restaurants close and open, savvy restaurateurs decide to create an outdoor venue to drum up more interest and therefore increase business, make room for overflow crowds or just heighten visibility.
Some spaces have table service while others just allow customers to take their food and eat outside.
Only one place that offered outdoor eating last year is not doing so in 2013. Starbucks in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center did not have tables out front the times I visited. Churrascaria Copacabana, the Brazilian steakhouse at 29-31 North Main St., enclosed their deck last year, so it can no longer be considered an outdoor eating venue.
Meanwhile, two new restaurants have opened which are offering dining al fresco, two that opened in May 2012 have set up outdoor eating areas for the first time this season and KFC up on the hill at 262 Boston Post Rd. has put a table outside.
Zeppoleme made its debut in June at 321 North Main St. as the sister restaurant to neighboring nessa. The Italian coffee shop, open from early morning until late at night 7 days a week, specializes in traditional and modern ricotta zeppole, Panini and Stumptown coffee. It shares a gorgeously landscaped courtyard with nessa where eight round high tables with wicker stools have been added on a raised deck specifically dedicated to the coffee shop.
Härth, which opened at the Hilton Westchester at 699 Westchester Ave. in September 2012, offers modern American cuisine focused around its wood-burning oven. Besides flatbread and flatbread pizza, other ingredients such as mushrooms and carrots are roasted in the oven. With the opening of this new restaurant, meals are served on the patio overlooking the hotel's well-landscaped grounds on the weekends when the weather cooperates.
Coals, specializing in grilled pizza-and the thinnest I've ever tasted-as well as craft beers, is taking advantage of the Village of Port Chester's legislation allowing sidewalk cafés, one of seven restaurants to do so this year. Coals has placed two black metal tables for two and matching chairs just outside the door of its 35½ North Main St. location. Coals is open for dinner every day and for lunch Saturday and Sunday.
Cousin Frankie's USA Grill, which opened at the end of May 2012 at 112 Willett Ave., has created a patio outside the restaurant on village property in the shoppers' parking lot behind Q. Seven silver mesh tables and matching chairs are shaded by red, white and blue umbrellas and the space is decorated with American flags in keeping with the restaurant's patriotic theme. Open seven days for all three meals, Cousin Frankie's serves a mean breakfast, great burgers, wraps, Panini, sandwiches, salads, chicken and seafood dinner entrées, pasta dishes, steaks and chops.
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