Scarsdale is on a roll. Two new restaurants hit the town’s dining scene this winter, both trendy yet neighborhoody additions, and rumor has it that BV’s Grill, a cousin of Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, will be opening in the space formerly occupied by Wuji soon. In the meantime, PopoJito in the village is serving up Mediterranean-Mexican fare, while Café Alaia on Garth Road dishes out savory Italian favorites. Here’s a look at both.
Although PopoJito labels its cuisine as “Med-Mex,” I would place the food solidly in the Mexican corner, with a healthier, Mediterranean twist (all dishes are, impressively, 100% gluten free). Familiar fare such as tacos, fajitas and guacamole are elevated with the addition of jazzy ingredients and sauces, all singing with the freshness of being locally sourced.
We sampled six of the eight meat/seafood tacos on offer and enjoyed most of them; the marinated shrimp and pork salsa verde were our favorites – so tender and full of flavor – while the yellowfin tuna and “ground beef gringo” were less impressive (probably our own fault for ordering something labeled “gringo”). The kids inhaled their ham and cheese quesadillas, and I couldn’t resist taking a bite myself when I saw that the corn tortillas were freshly made. Skip the churros, which came out shaped like cinnamon rolls, oddly, and were overly fried.
The restaurant is tiny, with maybe eight tables or so, plus some counter seating by the windows. We visited on a Saturday evening at 5:30, thinking we’d beat the dinner rush, but came up against a 45-minute wait! Fortunately, the counter seating was available, so we ended up there. The wait staff was friendly, if a bit harried and inattentive, probably from the unexpected flood of customers. We would return, maybe after the initial fervor surrounding a newly opened restaurant has died down a bit.
PopoJito, 46 Christie Pl, Scarsdale, (914) 713-8946
Rumor has it that Café Alaia was originally supposed to open in Brooklyn but the lease fell through, so the owner ended up bringing his ode to fine Neapolitan dining to Scarsdale instead (which, to me, says a lot about the Westchester dining scene!). The food in the cozy, upscale space is absolutely delicious, albeit pricey for a casual lunch. We stopped in for a quick meal on a Sunday afternoon and ended up spending double what we were anticipating. But I’d do it again.
Everything about the starters, from the beef meatballs with buffalo ricotta, to the bibb lettuce Caesar salad, to the complementary rustic bread with a roasted tomato spread, was on point. We ordered two homemade pastas as our mains, the linguine alle vongole and tagliatelle alla Bolognese, and both were devoured within minutes. The tagliatelle was particularly rich and tasty, while the linguine with clams was overflowing with fresh clams (the kids wanted more of the pasta, but I was in heaven). Both were served perfectly al dente. The warm chocolate soufflé, with a small scoop of vanilla and fresh fig and raspberries, was the perfect way to end our decadent Sunday lunch.
The next time we return, it’ll be sans kids, and I’ll be diving into the secondi part of the menu – the branzino at the table next to us looked especially enticing. Save your visit to Café Alaia for an upcoming date night or a cozy dinner with friends. It’ll feel like you’re hanging out in Park Slope.
Café Alaia, 66 Garth Road, Scarsdale, (914) 725-3000