Flower Show Becomes Excuse for Foodies Destination Dining

Foodies Guide to Flower Show Dining

FOODIES- A beautiful Technicolor harbinger of spring, the 17th annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx runs thru April 28th.  I look forward to visiting NYBG, walking thru the beautifully restored Enid Haupt Conservatory and beholding the seductive floral arrangements and dramatic plantings. 

This year’s theme: ‘Singapore, City In A Garden’! (For additional info: www.nybg.org) After taking in all that beauty, we do get hungry. So where do we dine? Here are a few suggestions…


This year visitors can also enjoy cocktails, like a Singapore Sling, at several bar areas, as well as take in special ‘Orchid Evenings’ filled with entertainment and snacks from the popular Bronx Night Market pop-up. 

www.thebronxnightmarket.com  These unique evening events will take place: March 30 & April 5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27. Reservations are suggested. 


Ever since restaurant rock star Stephen Starr took over the food service concessions at NYBG, now known as Constellation Culinary Group, hungry visitors have been taking note. Starr made a big name for himself in Philadelphia where he owns several powerhouse restaurants including his retro: Continental. He is also represented in Atlantic City at Buddakan, and in Washington, D.C. at the hot new Le Diplomate where we enjoyed a wonderful French brasserie brunch recently. 

Starr has premiered themed Dining Pavilions throughout the park and near the Enid Haupt Pavilion: the casual Pine Tree Café and a more formal dining room with waiter service called Hudson Garden Grill serving an eclectic American menu with locally sourced ingredients. Open daily. Check it out online: www.nybg.org/visit/dining/the-hudson-garden-grill/ 

MARIO’S, 2342 ARTHUR AVE., BRONX 718-584-1188

Since 1919, five generations of the Migliucci family have worked the front and back-of-the-house making sure patrons are well served at this venerable Little Italy institution. 

Mario’s is marking 100 years of operation. Amiable Joe Migliucci, the current patriarch, is there with his wife Barbara, daughter Regina and sons Michael and Mario. To many, the flavorful sauces and gravies produced in this kitchen are the stuff of Italian ‘foodie heaven’. And for those in the know, the old-world menu also holds many surprises. 

For starters enjoy the palate pleasing lagniappe of marinated carrots, hot peppers and good crusty Arthur Ave. bread as you survey the menu. www.mariosrestarthurave.com 

BRONX BEER HALL, 2344 ARTHUR AVE., BRONX 1-347-396-0555

Located inside the historic Arthur Ave. Retail Market, not far from Fordham University, the Bronx Beer Hall is a good place to hang for good locally sourced sandwiches and craft beers. Mike’s Deli just down the aisle coordinates some of the food service with the bar and it is good, hearty Italian fare. The beers are from all over the map. Good spot for mingling and networking. Entertainment schedule. Open 7 days. www.bronxbeerhall.com 


It’s right in the middle of City Island, the charming seaport village near Orchid Beach. Owner Spiro Chagares and his staff offer patrons an inspired melding of traditional and contemporary dishes served with flair. 

Sit back in one of several refurbished dining areas and enjoy such changing specialties as: hearty Seafood Chowders; Asian Sticky Buns; Smoked Salmon Roll-Ups; Wood Grilled Jumbo Shrimp and Scallops; hunks of tender Short Rib; a massive Zuppa Di Pesce; tender Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb; Chardonnay Poached Salmon with seafood; and fresh Lobster prepared in a variety of styles. There’s a loaded Lobster Salad Roll at lunch and their Mediterranean style Pizzas are good to share, too. 

Check out the bar/lounge most evenings for good networking. Craft beer selection. Private party facilities. Off premise catering. Open 7 days. Free parking. www.artiescityisland.com


Seafood and sea views on City Island. Vistamar Restaurant & Lounge took over the sprawling space that previously operated as Don Coqui and the views are breathtaking. Evenings you can see Manhattan lights in the distance while enjoying ‘Cucina Latina’ prepared with style. Check out the menu for such house specialties as: Seafood Tower, Mofongo, Chuleta, Rabo, King Crab Legs, and Lobster in a variety of styles. Weekly happy hours and nightlife schedule. Reservations are suggested. Ample parking. www.vistamarcityisland.com 


Owner Dominic Cesarini’s handsomely renovated bi-level 70-seat dining room and bustling bar/lounge   is always engaged in spirited networking. There are artsy exposed pipes and vents on the ceiling.  Handsome brown wood and clay tone walls, warm lighting fixtures and modern sturdy deep brown butcher block chairs and tables highlight the floor with large picture windows and seating spilling out onto Main. The staff here is most friendly, efficient and eager to please. Cesarini, a ‘local grill man’ himself, whose family owned and operated several cafes and grills in the Bronx-Tuckahoe-Eastchester area, has kicked it up a notch with a good mix of reasonably priced American tavern comfort fare with a good dose of broccoli rabe to go around. Check out the Fresh Salads and Tacos, Flatbreads, Short Ribs with garlic mashed, Filet Mignon Sliders, Pork Flatiron Scarpariello and Lamb Shank. Good burgers, too. Open 7 days for lunch, dinner. www.thequarryrestaurant.net


Out of this tiny kitchen come laudatory renditions of American/Global dishes bursting with flavor. Oenophiles, take note. The carefully selected wines served here, many from small-batch independent producers, can be heavenly. It is a wonderful place to unwind, take in some music on special nights, and indulge. The small bar is great for networking, too. Recent food tastings here have included Luisanna’s amazing Veal Meatballs, Cheese & Charcuterie Platter, Duck Wontons, Duck Confit, a wonderful Fettuccine Carbonara; Mushroom & Pea Risotto, and Baked Cod with Vierge Sauce. There is live entertainment. Check ahead for updates. Open Monday thru Saturday for happy hour and dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. Check out on Facebook.com 


The Café is warm and inviting. Proprietor and creative force behind Nutmeg is Cindy Bothwell. There is seating for up to 25, soft background music, exposed brick walls and display cases filled to the brim with the tempting daily larder. Bothwell calls her way of cooking and baking: “American home-style rustic” and insists on keeping up with the seasons. Delightful beverages include such exclusive artisanal makers as Joe’s Coffee out of Brooklyn. Custom Cold Brew coffees, teas and smoothies on-site. Fresh made soups, salads and sandwiches have been added to Nutmeg’s menu and posted daily on the blackboard. Enjoy delectable cheddar scallion scones; caramelized onion & gruyere crostada; and cauliflower, leek & Asiago quiche. www.thenutmegcafe.com 


The County Center in White Plains is the site of Westchester Beer Fest on Saturday, March 23rd from 4-8 p.m. Producers of the event say there will be 200 craft breweries represented. Now that’s a lot of beer. For additional info and tickets: www.countycenter.biz/event/beer-fest-of-westchester/ 

(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 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: gutreactions@optonline.net)

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