If you want elbow room with your meal, there’s plenty at Zuppa. We reveled in the expanse of the 14-foot ceiling and well-spaced tables dressed in white at this wine-centric Yonkers restaurant that opened in 2003, converted from the old Gazette newspaper-printing warehouse. The place oozes warmth with its pumpkin-colored walls, multicolored blown-glass lamps, original wood flooring, and 100-year-old exposed brick. Owned by Edi Dedi, Robert Leggio, Ferdinando Paterra, and Chef Paskual Dedi, Zuppa is part of the DaMaro Restaurant Group (which includes Andiamo next door, Guapo Cocina Mexicana around the corner, Mima Vinoteca in Irvington, and Tramonto in Hawthorne).
At Zuppa, there’s a full bar and a wine list 20 pages long. The silky, light Negroamaro, an organic red, is more floral than its name (meaning “bitter black”) suggests. Cocktails, aged bourbons, and Harney & Sons tea can also warm you.
The menu changes seasonally. The restaurant’s modern treatment of calamari grills tender chunks covered in panko breadcrumbs with grilled orange. The polpette, or meatless eggplant meatballs, are hearty and highlighted by a fresh, chunky tomato sauce. But for small starter bites, nothing beats the fornarina, focaccia-like flatbread. Its crunchy yet soft texture flavored with rosemary, olive oil, and Sicilian sea salt is simplicity at its best.
The pappardelle with veal Bolognese and sugo mint is surprisingly exciting, so it’s no shock this is available year-round. If you can make it past all the handmade pastas, we suggest the orata, or cedar-plank bream fish, cooked to a light crisp outside with a creamy middle, topped with tarragon pesto. The most famous dish, though, is the Nutella-braised short rib with hazelnut powder over zucchini wheels. It’s a leaner cut of meat, braised for six hours. The scent of Nutella is more forward than the taste, so it’s not too cloying. New flavors of gelato are made daily, so cleanse your palate with basil, pumpkin, or lingonberry versions. If you can get it, try the chewy, sweet, runny, New York State honeycomb panna cotta.
You can’t go wrong ordering the cedar plank bream fish or the smoked ricotta cavatelli (top) at Zuppa
Of the other DaMaro restaurants, Mima in Irvington is worth more than a mention. An endearing name for “grandmother,” Mima reflects a more classic Italian dining experience offered than the modern. The décor succeeds in creating a hip, homey feeling. (The vintage double entry doorways, original exposed brick, yesteryear’s white hexagonal tile flooring, and Tuscan wood tables are so now.)
To start, select your favorite of seven salumi and eight formaggi with some roasted red peppers and white-anchovy marinato. There’s also traditional fried calamari and meatballs made with meat instead of eggplant. The creamy polenta with venison sausage, cannellini beans, and Gouda may make you want to curl up in Mima’s lap and purr with pleasure.
But we’re adults now, so we must rave (while sitting upright) about the handmade pastas, including ricotta gnocchi with black-truffle cream, walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and sage. And Mima likes a good deal: half-price house wine bottles on Mondays; prix-fixe salad, pasta, and gelato dinners on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and Happy Hour specials from 5 to 7 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.
Zuppa, 59 Main St, Yonkers (914) 376-6500
Mima, 63 Main St, Irvington (914) 591-1300