Celebrating Mardi Gras in NY

By Morris Gut

FOODIES- If you can’t make it to New Orleans to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Mardi Gras you don’t have to look no further than NY to get your Fat Tuesday on. Here are some great dining spots.

Proprietor Peter Van Cott of The Bayou Restaurant, 580 Gramatan Ave., Mt. Vernon, has been serving up the spirited sounds and flavors of Cajun country since 1991, and the place is still funky and enjoyable.

So, if you can’t make it to New Orleans, this is the spot to revel in authentic blues and zydeco music while hunkering down to an overstuffed Po’ Boy or such house specialties as: Big Muffulettas, Southern Fried Chicken, Grilled Peppered Catfish, Tender Pork Ribs Smothered in BBQ Sauce, Jazzy Jumpin’ Jambalaya served with Louisiana Andouille Sausage, Alligator Sausage, and Crawfish Tails Smothered in Rich Creole Gravy. Their Annual Mardi Gras Bash will be held on Fat Tuesday, March 5th, featuring live entertainment and a full-course dinner. Cost is $55. Seating times are at 6, 8 and 10 p.m.

If you just want to hang at the bar there will be a $20 cover charge. Entertainment will be provided by Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. Reservations are suggested. Phone: 914-668-2634. www.bayourestaurantny.com 

You can also check out Rye Roadhouse, 12 High Street, Rye on Fat Tuesday. The fun starts at 4 pm with specialty cocktails, authentic New Orleans dishes and traditional King Cake. Beads and giveaways are also promised. Phone: 914-925-2668. www.ryeroadhouse.com 

Holy Crab, 32 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains opened last February serving fresh Cajun-style seafood as you would see in New Orleans. It is a long sprawling space with bustling bar/lounge during Happy Hours: 4 pm to 8 pm. Check out such specialties as: Lobster Mac & Cheese, Po’ Boys, Gumbo, Snow Crab Legs and Jambalaya. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Phone: 914-948-3888. www.holycrabny.com 

Free bird Kitchen & Bar, 161 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains opened this past December at the former Elements location. They serve a Southern-themed menu that includes such specialties as: Pimiento Cheese Balls served with pecans and Ritz crackers; Fried Green Tomatoes; Shrimp & Grits; and Chicken Fried Steak. Look for a swarm of flying birds hanging from the ceiling. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Happy Hours 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Phone: 914-607-2476. www.freebirdkitchenandbar.com

Southern Table Kitchen & Bar, 39 Marble Ave., Pleasantville, offers a big dose of Southern hospitality along with such house specialties as: Cheddar Biscuits, Grit Bowls, Cajun-style Seafood Boils, and Chicken & Waffles. Open daily. Phone: 914-618-3355. www.southern-table.com

I have been wanting to try Don Jito in Mamaroneck since they opened last year in the space that briefly housed Spice Kitchen. Don Jito is a sister restaurant to Popo Jito in Scarsdale, and serves a vibrant mix of Spain, Mexican & South American cuisines along with a good dose of Mediterranean tapas. It turns out to be a tasty, colorful fusion. 

We visited during their kick-off Sunday brunch. There was a DJ stationed in a corner of the bar area, and the crowd was a bustling mix of families and friends. We started with two items from the regular menu: Hot Honey Spiced Brussels Sprouts (I had heard about this dish from friends), and Chorizo Flatbread with piquillo peppers, dollops of queso requesen and Oaxaca cheeses, and tomatillo. Both were very good. The portion of Brussels sprouts was large. Both were easy to share. We even took some home. 

From the prix fixe $24.95 brunch menu we ordered their hearty Don Jito Bacon Jalapeno Chipotle Burger, which came with a side of potato chips, and a platter of Huevos Rancheros, two fried eggs, cheese quesadilla with spicy rancheros sauce, guacamole, home fries, and a pico fruit bowl. It was a feast, for sure, and permeated with mild/spicy flavors. My compliments to the bar for one of the best Bloody Marys I have had recently. Nicely spiced, with horseradish, bacon & jalapeno. Will definitely be back for dinner!

Don Jito Tacos & Tapas, 122 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck. Check winter hours. Phone: 914-902-5486. Municipal parking. www.donjito.com 

Some of our most popular markets have been operating indoors all season, and while you may not get all the harvest can produce, it still is a good place to pick up a variety of artisanal goods such as meats, cheeses, jams, breads, etc. So, take a drive and happy grazing!

Pleasantville Farmers Market, 40 Romer Ave., Pleasantville. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. thru May. www.pleasantvillefarmersmarket.org

Mamaroneck Indoor Farmers Market at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 168 W. Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. thru mid-April. www.downtoearthmarkets.com 

Gossett’s Farm Market, South Salem, Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.gossettbrothers.com  

Cold Spring Farmers Market, Parish Hall, St. Mary-in-the-Highlands. Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. www.csfarmmarket.org 

Hudson Valley Regional Farmers Market, Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.hudsonvalleyfarmersmarket.org 

Westport Farmers Market at Gilbertie’s Herb Farms, Sylvan Road, Westport, CT. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.westportfarmersmarket.com 

(Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in the Bronx and Westchester for over 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: gutreactions@optonline.net)

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