Tony’s at the J-House: an Italian steakhouse where you are instantly welcomed

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A great restaurant is more than just its chef or the decor, it must also be a place where the guest feels welcome and appreciated.  At Tony’s at the J-House  located in the J-House Hotel in Greenwich, the atmosphere at this Italian style steakhouse is twice as inviting due to its owner and host,  Tony Capasso.  Tony has been a cornerstone of the Greenwich dining scene for some time with stints at Valbella and  Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse.  Tony is a true Maitre d’ and the ultimate host. He  moves about the restaurant greeting each guest, making sure they are happy, and even engaging them in one of his famous trivia games. Now Tony has his own restaurant, and the dining room was filled the evening we visited.

Joining Capasso is Executive Chef Daniel Radovic.  The chef served as Executive Chef of Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse, where he combined old school Italian fare with modern steakhouse menu items to create a fine but updated dining experience.  He has brought his culinary skills to the kitchen at Tony’s.

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The bar features a full beverage program with fun craft cocktails, 15 beers by the bottle and 6 more on draft.   There are 19 varieties of wine by the glass from various regions and are reasonably priced.

Appetizers range from the large and delicious The Meatball made with veal, pork, beef  and topped with ricotta cheese, to Short Rib  Arancini (rice balls).

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The Meatball

Pasta dishes are delish as well and we sampled the Gnocchi with sundried tomato, peas, arugula, in a basil pesto .

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Seafood is a staple on the menu and Tony’s features a fully stocked Raw Bar of oysters, shrimp, and the King Tower filled with seafood favorites.  The seafood dishes change with market condition, and we enjoyed the  Chilean Sea Bass  served with parsnip puree and finished with a porcini and leek cream sauce.

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Chilean Sea Bass

The highest quality dry aged steaks are the stars of the menu with steak house favorites such as filet mignon, T-bone and Porterhouse for Two available.  Sides are also on the menu and include such modern additions as Charred Broccoli and Truffle Fries to steakhouse favorites such as baked and mashed potato.

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Tony’s is a welcome addition to the local dining scene.  While the menu and chef will satisfy your palate, it is the warmth and hospitality that Tony Capasso brings to the dining room that will have you coming back again.

Tony’s at The J-House

1114 East Putnam Avenue Greenwich, Connecticut

 web: https://jhouserestaurant.com/

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That 70’s Diner: Chef David DiBari’s newest venture, Eugene’s Diner and Bar opens in Port Chester

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So many restaurants have opened in the last few years featuring  an industrial, minimalist interior design.  Legendary local Chef David Dibari (The Cookery, The Parlor, Rare Bit) has gone in an entirely different direction with the opening of Eugene’s Diner and Bar in Port Chester.  Starting with a clean slate, this new eatery has accurately recreated a bar and diner from the 1970s.  Stepping into the restaurant is amazing as you are greeted with all the trappings of classic 1970’s decor from the harvest gold covered diner booths, paneling and wallpaper on the walls, and period correct lighting.  It was amusing to watch other diner’s observe the walls of the restaurant which are decorated with photos, string art, hook rugs and other classic 70s era pieces.   We knew moments after stepping inside we were in for an evening of fun.

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The large space is actually divided into several different dining spaces with the long bar that looks like it was lifted right out of a small town watering hole circa 1975.   The bar serves fun cocktails  and a wide beer menu with 8 craft beers on tap and 11 beers  available in can or bottle.  The Miller High Life split was a fun nod to the era when national beer brands were the only beers available at your local tavern.

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Welcome to 1978, your table awaits

There is another dining space with pub tables and a wall of tables decorated in classic 70s green.   The space to the back of the eatery features several classic booths dressed in harvest gold vinyl as well as the counter that over overlooks the open kitchen.  No diner from the era would be complete without the glass carousel of cakes on display.

 

Chef Dibari created the restaurant as a feel-good diner-inspired restaurant and bar serving a new take on classic diner fare. The diner is a tribute of sorts the Chef’s Grandfather who would take him to diners such as Eugene’s.   Fun is the main element of the eatery from its authentic  detailed decor to its inventive cocktails  and the menu’s quirky spin on diner classics.

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Cocktails are just part of the fun at Eugene’s

In classic diner style, breakfast is available all day.  We sampled the stack of delicious Fluffy Pancakes with syrup and butter.  The pancakes are not too large and are a fun way to start or end your meal.

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Stack of fluffy pancakes

The Custardy Yolks and Toast is a neat dish with crispy buttered toast and a lightly cooked egg yolk.  Add caviar for something completely different and unique.  The menu is creative blending familiar diner specialties with some items you may not see in your favorite new restaurant in Westchester.

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Hash browns, Matzo Ball soup, Bread and Avo Butter

The Bread and Avocado Butter is a fun item to share as it encourages you to tear pieces off the large wild yeast sourdough bread and dip it into your plate of whipped avocado butter.  Even the plates have a retro vibe.

No diner is complete in our area without Matzo Ball soup and Eugene’s delivers with a light fluffy matzo ball and instead of chicken broth, the Chef uses bone broth.  A modern update to this classic soup and it’s a winner.

Eugene’s even makes its own hot dogs.  As we can expect from Chef DiBari, this is not your regular hot dog but a massive two handed 13 inch dog served with onion, mustard and their own house made sauerkraut.  Also available are such staples as Tuna Melt, Burgers, Grilled Cheese and even Fried Bologna.

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Watch out where you point the housemade 13 inch Hot Dog !

Main items range from Steak, to Chicken and even Sole.  What about trying such quirky items as Rotisserie Spam with pineapple glaze.  We saved that for our next visit.   We did try the Roast Turkey Breast covered in what the menu calls as “that gravy”. A satisfying dish.   I cannot remember the last time we ordered Meat Loaf with Swedish gravy in a restaurant but in light of the setting it just seemed the right choice.

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Roast Turkey with “that gravy”

There are lots of cool cocktails at Eugene’s at well and we tried the “Phil Lush” a tribute to Greatful Dead member Phil Lesh who has played often at the nearby Capitol Theater.  This combo of Rum, blue raspberry cotton candy, grapefruit went down smooth.

The Harvey Keitel was another fun drink and an innovative mix of vodka, MG orange pop, galliano, ango float and sparkling soda which just fit the vibe of the eatery.

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Don’t leave without sharing a shake and we sampled the Stickabutta which was a combo of cake and milk shake in a glass.

With a unique but retro inspired menu, Eugene’s will beckon you back again and again.  So jump in your Trans-Am and put in an 8 Track of your favorite band and head over to Eugene’s in Port Chester.  We will save you a booth.

Eugene’s website reminds us  “In the movies the diner is a special kind of space,
a mythical place, a zone of escape.”  We agree.

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Eugene’s  Diner and Bar

112 North Main Street Port Chester NY      tel. 914.481.5529

web  https://eugenesdiner.com/

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It’s a wrap! A review of the 2019 Greenwich International Film Festival

The Greenwich International Film Festival came to a close on Sunday June 2nd.  The 5th anniversary of the festival was a fantastic success.  Over 4 days attendees had the unique opportunity to  take part in numerous film screenings, panel discussions and Q & A sessions with actors, writers and directors.  Congratulations are  in order for the amazing women who run the festival including Wendy Stapleton Reyes (Chairman and Founder)  Colleen deVeer (Founder and Director of Programming), Ginger Stickel (COO and Executive Director) and their amazing staff.

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Shari Angel, Programmer leads a panel discussion on the film “Auggie”

The Festival ‘s mission is to provide filmmakers with an effective platform to showcase their work with the goal of finding financing opportunities for future projects.  GIFF promotes these films  to serve the greater good by highlighting important issues that relate to basic human rights, education, the environment and health care.  Their slogan is to “Make An Impact”.   Since its inception  GIFF  has awarded $150,000 in cash prizes to filmmakers and raised over $600,000 for non-profit organizations.

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Celeste, one of the films at the Festival

 

2019 was a great year for the Festival as it the slate of films was thought provoking as they were entertaining.  There were documentaries, narrative films, Connecticut Shorts, Documentary shorts and so much more.  During the festival we were able to watch several films including “Auggie” with Richard Kind which was filmed in Connecticut in just 12 days and its subject was one man’s struggle with the world of augmented reality. The panel discussion that followed the film was very informative and let the audience in on the back story of the production.

 

Brian Banks” was our favorite of the weekend and this film based on true events of a man unjustly imprisoned and his fight to clear his name was brilliant.  The Q &A that followed was with Brian Banks himself and was quite moving.

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Brian Banks, the subject of the narrative film with the same name shares his story with the audience following the film

Also on our slate was the interesting ‘Safe Spaces”,  and “Celeste” an independent Australian film that featured beautiful cinematography and a thought provoking story. This too was followed by a panel discussion with the director.   Lastly we viewed “I Want My MTV” a documentary that charted the rise and impact of MTV on our culture.  It included numerous interviews with the creators of the network as well as musicians such as Sting, Billy Idol and Nancy Wilson of Heart.

The Festival also included several exciting parties.  The Changemaker Gala  is a prestigious event and honored  Celebrity Changemaker, Eva Longoria, for her work with the Eva Longoria Foundation.  She is on the board of numerous children’s hospitals, supports women’s organizations, children’s charities, health initiatives, environmental causes and more. She will excepted the award for her work advancing educational opportunities for Latina women and girls. Community Changemaker, Bobby Walker was also recognized for his work with the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. Kathie Lee Gifford served  as Master of Ceremonies.

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L to R Wendy Stapleton, Kathie Lee Gifford, Bobby Walker,actress Eva Longoria, Ginger Stickel and Colleen deVeer

The pinnacle of the weeks amazing line up of events was the Epic Party held on Saturday Evening June 1st.  This year the party was moved to the beautiful Capitol Theater in Port Chester NY and featured Kesha as the main event. Kesha was chosen not only for her great stage show. She is a great example of a woman who has fearlessly stood up for herself.  The Capitol was the perfect venue for the capacity crowd which was treated to an electric performance by Kesha.

During the evening, actress and head of the Social Impact Jury, Connie Nielson presented the award for Best Social Impact Film to Afterward  . This prize is awarded to one film across all categories that promote social change and awareness. A trophy and check for $10,000.00 USD was awarded to director Ofra Bloch during the awards ceremony.

Additional awards include: Sister Aimee winning Best Narrative Feature directed by Marie Schlingmann and Samantha Buck, Cold Case Hammarskjöld winning Best Documentary Feature, The Animal winning Best Narrative Short with an honorable mention going to The Blues Crowd. Mack Wrestles ESPN 30 for 30 winning Best Documentary Short and 120 Years winning Best Connecticut Short Film.

Congratulations to the wonderful staff of the Greenwich International Film Festival for another great event.  The Festival goes by so fast and we enjoyed every minute.  We are  all ready looking forward to next year.

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article by Frank Wallace and Irene Young Wallace

photos by I On the Valley staff and GIFF

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A festival for food lovers! Westchester Wine and Food Festival returns June 4-8

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 Foodies rejoice!  Westchester Magazines Wine and Food Festival is back ! More than 100 restaurants and food trucks and over 150 types of wines, beers and spirits will fill the week with food and fun.

Events held during this jam-packed week will not just offer festival-goers a chance to sample some of the best food and beverages Westchester has to offer, but also give them a chance to support two very worthy causes. Benefiting charities are the Westchester Parks Foundation and Feeding Westchester.

Schedule of Events

Salute! A Wine Tasting Tour of Italy

When: Tuesday, June 4th, 5:30-7:30pm  Where: Gigante Restaurant & Bar, Eastchester, NY

Ticket price: $95 in advance, $105 at the door; Ticket + Dinner at Gigante at 8pm: $150 (tax, gratuity and beverages not included)
Benefitting charity:
Westchester Parks Foundation

Enjoy a walk-around tasting of wines from Tuscany, Veneto, Piedmonte, Trentino-Alto Adige, Sicily, and Sardinia, along with savory and sweet Italian bites.

Taste & Style

When: Wednesday, June 5th, 6-9pm  Where: Savor Westchester at The Westchester (Level 4), White Plains, NY

Ticket price: $30 (includes $25 Simon gift card) Tickets will not be sold at the door. Be a part of this fun-filled evening featuring delicious bites and drinks, shopping, makeovers and great giveaways. A highlight of the event will be a bartender shake-off, with some of the area’s top mixologists competing to create the night’s best cocktail.

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Burger & Beer Blast

When: Thursday, June 6th, 6-10pm Where: Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla, NY

Ticket price: $75 in advance, $85 at the door  Benefitting charity: Westchester Parks Foundation     Westchester’s hottest summer block party is back and better than ever, with 35 restaurants and food trucks, live music plus wine, beer and spirits. Taste the delicious burgers created by top local chefs competing for the coveted Heineken Light Best Burger Award and the ALL NEW Judge’s Choice Award.

 Food Truck Festival

When: Friday, June 7th, 6-9pm Where: Cross County Shopping Center, Yonkers NY

Ticket price: $50 in advance (includes all food and beverages), $60 at the door

Benefitting charity: Feeding Westchester  Grab your all-inclusive ticket to a food truck festival like you’ve never seen before, as some of the best food trucks from across the county come together for a fun-filled night of food, beer, wine and spirits

Winemakers Dinners

When: Friday, June 7th, 6-10pm  Ticket price: $150 (tax and gratuity not included) Tickets will not be sold at the door.   Four of the county’s top restaurants will each host a one-of-a-kind Winemakers Dinner in the restaurant’s private dining room, with exquisite cuisine specifically complement top vintage wines. Wine masters and chefs will discuss each course and wine during this intimate dinner.

Participating Restaurants & Wineries:

  • Chateau Maris Wine Dinner at RiverMarket Bar & Kitchen, Tarrytown, NY
  • Kermit Lynch Wine Dinner at Crabtree’s Kittle House, Chappaqua, NY
  • Maison Joseph Drouhin Wine Dinner at La Panetiere, Rye, NY
  • Rombauer Vineyards Wine Dinner at X2O Xaviars on the Hudson, Yonkers, NY

 Grand Tasting Village

When: Saturday, June 8th, 12-4pm Where: Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla, NY

Ticket Price: $85 general admission, $95 at the door; Party Line Connoisseurs Tent: $125 in advance, $135 at the door

Benefitting Charity: Westchester Parks Foundation The signature event of the Wine & Food Festival features tastings from 50+ local restaurants and food trucks and more than 150 wines & spirits, chef demonstrations and wine seminars.

Visit www.westchestermagazine.com/winefood for complete details, participating restaurants, chefs and ticket sales.

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