Updated: Sep 12, 2021
TABLE HOPPING with Morris Gut
For two decades, some of the most robust Italian regional flavors in Westchester have been emanating from a gleaming vintage diner across from Metro North in the Village of Harrison. Chef-proprietor Dean Vivolo of Trattoria Vivolo has been marking his 20th Anniversary with a variety of tasty new specialties, dining options, and enhanced al fresco.
The 60-seat Trattoria Vivolo is housed in a gleaming diner via the 50s, with counter and booths in the front and an airy greenhouse in the rear. During milder months, newly planted giant sunflowers and flowery shrubs flank seasonal outdoor umbrella tables with special lighting and candles that accommodate guests for al fresco dining, weather permitting. A big fig tree loaded with fruit is a highlight. Al fresco dining has expanded this year with a new outdoor bar. Evenings the restaurant takes on a charming glow.
Chef Vivolo, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, started his career training with his late father Michael Vivolo, chef/proprietor of the former La Riserva Restaurant in Larchmont. Son Dean began busing tables and learning the ropes from his dad at age 14. After his tenure at the C.I.A., Dean had an opportunity to work in the kitchens of the noted San Domenico in Manhattan, and La Panetiere in Rye. He also honed his skills in front and back-of-the-house in and around Rome, Italy.
Vivolo is premiering a new fall menu. Current starters include: a signature thin crusted pizza; Scamorza, crispy mozzarella oven dried tomatoes with fried artichokes; Polenta con Funghi, crispy polenta, broccoli rape, mixed mushrooms, melted smoked mozzarella; Cozze Bianco, musssels, shallots, garlic, white wine; Vongole Vice Versa, little neck clams on the half shell or oreganata; and Insalata Di Mare, octopus, calamari, shrimp, scungilli, fennel fronds, pickled red onion, celery, crushed red peppers, lemon & evo.
Flavorful pasta dishes include Paglia e Fieno con Funghi, mushroom ragu, scallions, crispy prosciutto, pecorino cheese; Orecchiette di Troia, sausage, cherry peppers, basil, breadcrumbs, garlic & oil; classic Lasagna Al Forno, Bolognese style; Linguine Nere, black linguine, bay scallops, oven dried tomatoes, asparagus, lemon zest, fresh basil in a light pesto sauce; and Penne Limone, bacon, lemon zest, parsley, cream sauce. Yes, I have tasted them all, and they are winners!
Hearty 'Pesce' and 'Carne' dishes include: Branzino Arrosto, pan-seared sea bass with garlic, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil; Costoletta di Vitello alla Erbe, grilled veal chop topped with fresh herbs and sauteed mushrooms; Costoletta di Maiale, pork chops, spicy sausage, potatoes, vinegar peppers, rosemary; Gamberi alla Brace, grilled wild shrimp, grape tomatoes, grilled bell peppers, fennel, zucchini, olive oil, lemon, reduced balsamic; and Pollo Monteleone, gorgonzola, vinegar peppers, artichokes, olives, pine nuts. Daily verbal specialties augment the regular menu. All entrees served with seasonal vegetables.
I must mention the ‘Piatto al Salto’, a unique selection of Italian stir fry, gluten free. Choices include: Arragosta e Capesante, lobster tail, bay scallops, mixed mushrooms, scallions, roasted peppers, pine nuts, garlic & oil; Salsiccia, spicy sausage, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, zucchini, fennel, radicchio, garlic, olive oil, sherry wine.
Save room for Vivolo’s new desserts: Affogato, vanilla ice cream topped with double espresso; and delightful Sundaes, Vivolissimo, vanilla ice cream, strawberries, cannoli cream, shaved dark chocolate, whipped cream, crushed biscotti; and Bomba Baci, chocolate ice cream, chopped hazelnuts, crumbled chocolate cookies, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, topped with baci kisses.
A special Italian ‘digestivo’ Amaro Cart has been set up. Selections include 30 specialty after-dinner drinks. The house also excels in small batch wines.
Special Hint: While there, check out the black and white photos of Italy hanging throughout the restaurant. They were taken by the Vivolo family during visits to Dean’s paternal hometown of Accadia-Foggia in the Apulia region of Italy.
“Most importantly, Trattoria Vivolo would not be what it is today without the love and support of my amazing wife Odelya, three children, my mother, sister and late father,” emphasizes Chef Dean Vivolo.
Trattoria Vivolo is located at 301 Halstead Ave., Harrison, N.Y., opposite the northbound Harrison Metro North. Lunch is served Tuesday thru Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. Main courses at lunch: $10.95 to $14.95. Dinner is served 6 nights from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 10 pm. Main courses at dinner: $14 to $36. Party facilities for up to 40 guests. Seasonal outdoor seating. Take out. Major credit cards. Free and municipal parking. Casual dress. Reservations accepted. Phone: 914-835-6199. www.trattoriavivolo.com
(Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food & dining scene in greater Westchester for over 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)