Maria Serves Up Vibrant Global Flavors In New Rochelle


While the City of New Rochelle undergoes a massive construction phase that will actually create a skyline, dining venues of all stripes have been positioning themselves to grab pieces of the pie. Here is one of the noted newer hotspots.


Brothers Peter and Giovanni Cucullo of Maria have been shaking up the dining scene in New Rochelle for the past few years, drawing patronage from all over the metro area to their flavorful riff on Italian/global cooking. The Cucullo family added their footprint to the ‘Queen City’ decades ago with Fratelli Pizzeria opened by their late father Mario.


Maria is their newest venture, and in its first year Maria became one of the few restaurants in Westchester to be recognized by the prestigious Michelin Guide with a ‘Bib Gourmand’ designation. It was voted one of the Best of the Year by Westchester Magazine. This past year the 2021 Guide awarded them a ‘Bib’ second time.


Named after Mother, Maria is decorated with nostalgic memories from home: photos, artifacts, books, chandeliers. A mix of brick and color, exposed ceilings, old and contemporary.


The bar is separated from the dining room. Serious cocktails are a specialty. The house mulls most of its drinks, and there are special squeeze bottles lining the bar full of flavorful impact. A fine selection of craft beers and curated wines are on hand. A good way to start any visit.


Like the atmosphere, Chef Gio serves an eclectic blend of changing signature specialties that pack a tasty wallop. Great starters include Real Deal Baked Clams prepared with pork fat; Salmon Tartare with smashed avocado, ginger, scallion, sesame & tamari; and Creamy Burrata with semi-dry tomatoes, pistachios, aged balsamic & mint. Maria’s Big Salad is a bowl of fresh veggies and legumes.


Hearty pastas include Potato Gnocchi Oxtail Ragu, porcini, marsala, parmigiano; Pici Cacio Pepe, smoked pecorino crema, Telicherry pepper, scallion; classic Rigatoni Sunday Sauce with meatballs, sweet sausage, pork skin gravy; Black Linguine, shrimp, calamari, pomodoro, chile crumbs; and Wild Mushroom Ravioli, rosemary cream, rocket lettuce, Gouda.


Beautifully plated main courses include Seared Branzino, whipped potatoes, confit tomatoes, capers, elderflower; BBQ Veal Minute Steak, jasmine rice, cucumber salad, sesame; Seared Sea Scallops, tomato farrotto, porcini agrodolce; Charred Octopus, braised butter beans, pickled peppers, salsa verde; and 10 oz. Premium Pork Chops, fingerling potatoes, rabe, peppadews, fennel pollen.


Getting back to his roots, Chef Gio also offers ‘Spinning the Classics’: exemplary versions of Eggplant Parmigiana, Shrimp Francese, and Chicken Scarpariello on the bone.

Save room for their signature dessert: the decadent Dannoli.

Love their happy hours Monday thru Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the bar when they serve some of their most popular beverages and small plates each loaded with flavor. I am already hooked on such eclectic dishes as: Glazed Pork Ribs, Truffled Green Beans, Grilled Kielbasa with sweet & spicy Peruvian peppers, Mom’s Meatballs, Cauliflower Fritters, and Roasted Shishito Peppers. Friendly staff, too. Good networking spot.


Special Hint: The family also operates bustling Fratelli’s Pizza and Pops Café next door.

Maria,11 Huguenot Street, New Rochelle. Open Monday-Saturday. Closed Sundays. Appetizers: $9 to $18. Main courses: $21 to $30. Happy Hours: small plates, $6. 914-636-0006 www.marianewrochelle.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 greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. Email: gutreactions@optonline.net)

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