July 6, 2013 Mariachi Mexico, located on Main Street in Armonk, has recently undergone an exciting transformation. The restaurant received its refreshing makeover thanks largely to the efforts of new Head Chef Joana Herrera.
Ms. Herrera has always been involved with the restaurant business, which began as a result of her innate love of food. She is a long-time employee at Mariachi. While working as a waitress, she also attended culinary school to pursue her dreams of becoming a head chef. After graduation, she applied her education and personal experiences to develop a strategy for revitalizing Mariachi Mexico. She pitched her ideas to the current owner; who shared her vision and put Ms. Herrera in charge of the kitchen.
The restaurant's interior has been redesigned to promote a more inviting atmosphere. The new color scheme and the updated light fixtures create an open dining atmosphere. The old pictures that dotted the walls have been replaced by a simple, clean decor.
In addition to the aesthetic renovation, Ms. Herrera has completely revamped the menu. Her goal is to give customers a taste of her heritage, with a hint of "New York flare.” She describes the newly improved menu as “back to basic comfort food."
Mariachi Mexico offers a variety of authentic dishes to choose from. These include the racos al pastor (the Chef's Favorite), enchiladas Rojas, and many kinds of burritos. When she cooks, Ms. Herrera uses epazote, guajillo chili, and other traditional Mexican flavors to perfect her genuine cuisine. The daily menu is always accompanied by a diverse selection of specials that change regularly. This spontaneous menu ensures that there’s always a new dish to be sampled. Ms. Herrera exclaimed adamantly, "There is more to Mexican food than just nachos and quesadillas. I want people to have an opportunity to experience it!”
Authentic Pan-Asian Chinese Restaurant Opens in Armonk
June 18, 2013 Chinese food can be very interesting, says Alex Lee, owner of Made in Asia Restaurant, who has been in the Chinese restaurant business for 15 years. On June 8, Lee opened a second restaurant in Armonk, Rice, with husband-and-wife partners, Jenny Tang and Calvin Tang.
Two years in the making, Rice's interior design and menu have been well conceived and executed. Offering the only Pan Asian Chinese cuisine in Westchester, Lee says, it's authentic Cantonese cooking where the cooks are properly schooled. Rice's cook is from Canton. "He has never cooked in America before, and therefore, has not been influenced by American Chinese cooking."
The restaurant has 36 seats, including a Dim Sum bar with windows that open up onto Elide Plaza. This gives the dining room an airy, open appearance that resembles a Manhattan restaurant.
Rice served its first meal to Armonk resident Adam Gerschuny; Mr. Gerchuny is a big fan of Made in Asia, Lee's first restaurant that opened seven years ago. Gerchuny was served the chef's choices, which included a variety of dishes: a flavorful honey-glazed barbecue pork on a sweet bun, tasty chicken pan fried with noodles and vegetables, Prawn Hare Gow with bamboo shoots, and watercress dumplings. Everything looked delicious. "Excellent, authentic Chinese Dim Sum, cooked to perfection!” said Mr. Gershuny as he ordered a second portion.
The menu offers a variety of appetizers including Prawn Hare Gow with bamboo shoots: it has a clear dumpling skin and is stuffed with shrimp or chicken. The egg rolls are made from all fresh ingredients: Nothing is frozen. The entrees include Chef Braised Tofu, a casserole organic firm tofu with fresh vegetables of baby bachu with sautéed mushrooms in a brown-rice sauce. The Imperial Bird's Nest is diced chicken with fresh celery, carrots, and jailma, cooked in the chef's special sauce.
Rice is located at Elide Plaza at 111 Bedford Road in Armonk. Their hours are Tuesday to Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m., Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday from 3:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Aquariums, Accessories and Advice … All in Armonk By Shirley Stadtmueller
June 15, 2013 In just one visit to Haaki ----- All Things Aquarial, you’ll know you are in the right place for sound advice on the subject. Whether you are just starting an aquarium or hermit crab habitat or are an aficionado, Haaki’s owner, Eric Schultz, is the man to see. Having researched the topic for years, Eric then became an avid hobbyist before turning his passion into a business.
Haaki offers a wide array of tropical freshwater and saltwater fish from around the globe. His stock includes rarities like the Mandarin Goby and the Butterfly Loach as well as those fish that the kids clamor for like the ocellaris – better known as “Nemo” -- and goldfish. Eric is quick to add that he will also special order for his clients.
“I’ve gotten a lot of requests for hermit crabs and how to keep them,” says Eric. “So I’m fully stocked with the tanks and accessories to meet that need. But I can also consult with the homeowner who is looking to make an aquarium the focal point of the home.”
Eric encourages all to come and visit, check out the fish and to ask questions. You may just come away with a deeper appreciation for All Things Aquarial. Haaki, which means place of water, place of fish in Sumerian, is open daily from Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday’s until 6:30 p.m. It’s located in Elide Plaza, 111 Bedford Road, Armonk. You can reach Eric at (914) 219-5461 or info@Haaki-lfs.com.
Fortina Restaurant of Armonk Square Celebrates its Opening
June 6, 2013 Last night, Fortina opened its doors and welcomed guests to a soft opening of the restaurant that resembles an Italian farmhouse. A wave of pride was felt, not only by the three-twenty-something owners, but shared among the invited guests: friends, neighbors and family. The group was served hor d'oeuvres that included prosciutto, calamari and wood-fired oven pizza. The main dining room, the bar and the private party room were filled with good cheer; guests happily congratulated the three young men, as their dream of opening a restaurant became a reality thanks, in part, to the effort of many supporters.
The trio's enthusiasm was contagious, said Barbara DiGiacinto, lifelong Armonk resident. Barbara said she remembered decades ago when the property was known as Heritage Square. At the time, it seemed as though nothing was ever going to come of it.
The outdoor dining, the promenade and second floor Main Street apartments will transform downtown Armonk. Goodbye sleepy, downtown Armonk and hello to a brand new atmosphere. The opening of Fortina is the first of Armonk Squares retail operations to open, with DeCicco's Family Market not far behind and rumored to open June 14.
When the project is complete, Michael Labriola, the landscaper who installed Armonk Square's hardscape and landscape, said it will be the biggest thing Armonk has seen in awhile -- not only today, but also in the future.
With 55,000 square feet of retail space and 10-residential apartments, a large slice of downtown Armonk's Main Street that stood empty for decades will be revitalized. While Armonk will never be a large metropolis, perhaps the daily routine will be a lull after lunch, followed by a lively night scene reminiscent of a small, European village with a lively promenade through Armonk Square. The restaurants will remain open late into the night, providing Armonk with more of a welcome, while subtle, night scene.
Three Fortina Founders are Young, Hip Guys, who Feel Like the Luckiest People in the World
May 26, 2013 When you first enter Fortina, Armonk's soon-to-be latest restaurant addition to Armonk Square (scheduled to open sometime in June), you don't know where to look first. The smell of fresh wood is welcoming and is reminiscent of stepping into an old barn.
But the eclectic design is "a blend of an old-fashioned Italian cantina, mixed with a modern, industrial look.” The owners designed the restaurant with the advice and assistance of family members, who are carpenters and artisans, and could take the three, young partners’ worldly visions of design, textures and colors and implement them. "I get emotional at times to see the end result and how they pulled that out of my head," said co-owner Christian Petroni.
Fortina is the brainchild of three men, all under the age of thirty. Co-owners John Nealon and Christian worked together as general manager and chef partner at Barcelona Restaurant, in Greenwich, CT. They sought their own place with Rob Krauss, who has been in the restaurant business since he was a teenager and comes from the digital-marketing world. They were attracted to Armonk's proximity to Westchester and Fairfield. "Going into the restaurant business is always something we wanted to do--we've been talking about it since we were fifteen-years- old," said Rob. “We are inspired about what's going on around town; there's a lot of great food in Armonk and we are happy to be part of it and to contribute in our own little way.”
Christian Petroni is the chef and has created a chef's table for four people near the kitchen. There's no menu but it's more like the chef's own kitchen table. His vision is to invite friends and customers to the table to taste special dishes that are workshopped from the kitchen. The food will be served at this table by the chef and drinks will be poured by the chef. "You will have to tell us when to stop."
Christian was a winner of a contest on the television show “Chopped,” a cooking show which judges prepared dishes from four different chefs during different rounds of food preparation; the dishes are judged on creativity, presentation and taste, and all dishes were prepared with strict time limits.
The high ceilings of Fortina have different levels that provide an open, airy feel; the walls have the feel of an old barn with wide-planked timber, lined with white pine and cypress that was split, stained and some of it even torch-burned. Beautiful wood was retrofitted from the building that was the former Armonk Gun Shop, which later became Beascakes Bakery, which is now located at Town Center; the building was demolished from the location. This wood is being used in the unisex-water closets.
Where Christian grew up in Italy, there are several courtyards that are unfinished, stone-painted white, and this feeling is replicated in the water closets. The trim around the doors and windows has also been taken from the demolished building, blending a mix of old, Armonk history with the newness of Armonk Square. You can see this throughout the roughly 3,000-square-foot interior of Fortina. The inviting wooden banquettes and seats are comfortable and were hand-crafted in Montana. Two barn doors slide closed to provide a separate room for private parties. The room has a large-screen TV for sports and presentations.
The facade of the building, the new sidewalk, and outdoor patio dining are a welcome change to Maple Avenue. The lampposts, benches, trees, and outdoor tables will add to the pedestrian- friendly, outdoor ambiance that will become part of the revitalization of downtown Armonk. Clearly, Armonk Square seems to be shaping up to be the heartbeat of downtown.
The restaurant setting is an eclectic blend of casual, as they strive to execute the food preparation at the highest possible level. As cool as Fortina is, it will also be a place to stay warm during Armonk's cold winters: the radiant heat in the poured-speckled, polished-concrete floor, as well as along the edge of long poured concrete bar, will provide this welcome warmth.
Although the name on the website has pizza in it, this is no pizza joint as you can see, said Armonk Square developer Dom DioGuardi, who assisted with Fortina's build-out. We were treated to taste the first pizza to come out of one of the two wood-burning ovens that were imported from Naples, Italy. The pizza was light and flavorful, made from three-different flours from Italy.
The state-of-the-art kitchen, which can be seen from the street, is the place where everything gets prepared. There is a dough proofer that maintains a humid temperature and then turns into a refrigerator to make the homemade breads and pizza dough. Much of the cooking will be open to the dining room on a stove that is custom made by a Swiss company located in Italy, with burners and refrigeration built right in.
The music playlist has been in the making for about a-year-and-a-half: it is very hip and lends itself to the casual atmosphere with sophistication. The speakers have been equalized so they will not interfere with normal conversation. The restaurant should be a success and a welcome addition to Armonk, assuming their food and service are good.
Family Floral Business Comes to Armonk By Jess Guski
May 23, 2013 Joseph R. Pugni Jr. and Christina Madonia are a brother and sister team in the family business of Joseph Richard Florals. They specialize in the art of floral and event design in a full-service floral shop in Valhalla that opened twenty years ago and recently opened a new division in Armonk. Joseph Richard Florals shares retail space with Naturescapes Landscape Design and Garden Shop, located at 2 MacDonald Avenue. Mr. Pugni works with three floral designers, including Luigi Lupinacci, who has worked with Mariani Gardens.
Joseph Richard Florals is a full-service florist that can accommodate everyday flowers, weekly corporate deliveries, weddings, and parties. "We specialize in the art of floral and event design, seamlessly integrating colors, shapes, textures, and patterns to orchestrate a truly memorable event," said Mr. Pugni.
The most popular merchandise comes from the garden-style floral collection. Customers can work with a designer to customize a specific style of floral arrangements and designs. "This allows a selection to be personalized, said Mr. Pugni, "and rarely is the same thing done twice."
Joseph Richard Florals is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening appointments are available and delivery times are flexible.