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Sofia’s Italian Bistro: A Taste of Naples in Mamaroneck

spaghettiItalian food appears to be the most popular choice in Westchester. I believe that if you choose to dine at an Italian restaurant every week for a year, you would never need to visit the same spot more than once. We have just added a new option to our Italian restaurant choices. Sofia’s Italian Bistro just opened its doors in Mamaroneck at the space occupied by Lum Yen for many years.

The owners Antonio Mauro and Sammy Reys, the executive chef have worked together for many years in New York City and at their sister restaurant La Vela, an upscale spot in Manhattan.

Sofia’s is simply decorated with dark woods and white walls. Several food related wall hangings add color. As you enter, there is a roomy bar with tv screens and several tables where you can enjoy a casual meal. If you are wondering about the name, Mauro chose Sofia as in Sophia Loren (different spelling), an inspiration and food lover who said, “Everything you see I owe to pasta.” The main dining area is filled with well-spaced tables. At lunch placemats are on the tables and at dinner pale blue linens lend a more formal look.

Antonio, ”Tony”, started his restaurant career in Naples. He indicated that he treats all of his guests sofiapizzathe same. “We serve large portions. Many of our ingredients are imported from Italy. Our meats, fish and vegetables are hand picked. Only dry goods are delivered. “If Tony was dining in Sofia’s, he might start with calamari followed by linguine alle vongole and perhaps bistecca alla griglia or skirt steak. The kitchen staff is led by Executive Chef Sammy Reys, whose style combines classic with innovative touches. “Our goal is to make our guests happy. “ Reys studied his craft at Villa Santa Maria Pescara Culinary School in Italy. He loves to visit the food show in New York and become aware of new products. He is always ready for a challenge in his work. This is a family run business and everyone is very friendly. Antonella, a family member, graciously served my varied dishes and was very helpful in answering my questions and getting a recipe from the kitchen.

The wood fired pizzas at Sofia’s are prepared in the Neapolitan style with a thin soft crust. With about 14 choices it was difficult to make a choice. The flour for the dough is imported from Italy and contains no preservatives or chemicals. Pablo Herrera, otherwise known as “the pizza man”, prepared 2 varieties for me to sample. The Pizza Vela was topped with fresh mozzarella, fried rounds of zucchini, very fresh ricotta and halves of grape tomatoes. This was a fine combination of tastes and textures. The carretiera pizza was topped with crumbled sweet sausage and broccoli rabe and was a hearty pairing of ingredients. The selection ranges from the popular margherita and marinara, to the interesting tartufata white pie with mushrooms, truffles and prosciutto, vegetarian with cherry tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplant, Sofia with escarole, mozzarella, black olives and capers, and diavola with tomato sauce, mozzarella and hot sopressata. You may also request gluten free pies. Herrera said, “I love making pizza. My spirit is in its preparation and I get satisfaction in watching my guests enjoy it."

sofiacalamariThe antipasti selections at Sofia’s include classics of calamari fritti and burrata fresca to creative presentations of calamari vela with spicy marinara sauce, cherry peppers, olives and capers. We loved the polipo Sofia where the grilled tender octopus arrived in a plate sized circle of octopus filled with olives, celery, roasted peppers, tomato and lemon. Another excellent choice is the bruschetta Sofia, a true original. Resting on housemade squares of crisp grilled croutons were melted mozzarella, chopped tomato salad, and slices of grilled skirt steak. A ginger mandarin sauce finished this tasty dish. I look forward to trying vongole al forno in a white wine sauce and cozze al Pomodoro sautéed in fresh basil tomato sauce.

If you wish, choose one of the 6 salad offerings. Sofia’s salad with baby arugula, shaved parmigiana, and butterflied grilled shrimp are tossed in a pear, lime vinaigrette for a lovely result. Rucoletta combines baby arugula with a iulienne of endives, pears and tomato in a red wine vinaigrette. The La Vela Salad is a hearty offering with beef tenderloin over spinach with bacon croutons, grilled onion, oven dried tomatoes in a bacon blue cheese vinaigrette. The portions are large, so try not to fill up on these starters since there are many pastas and entrees to follow.

It was difficult to choose among the many pasta choices. Would it be a classic of penne all arrabiata, rigatoni Bolognese or linguine alle vongole. We opted for cavatelli Gino. These morsels of pasta were tossed with shrimp and a julienne of carrots and zucchini and topped with a crown of crisp potato strips. It was a creative combination and an attractive presentation. Other tempting choices are Fiorette al Profumo di Bosco, very popular, where the packets of cheese filled pasta are served in a pink sauce with diced prosciutto , peas and mushrooms, sofiafishand short rib ravioli in a parmesan sauce. If risotto is your desire try the risotto al frutti di mare. The perfectly cooked rice is not too dry or too soupy and was combined with little neck clams, squid and shrimp in every spoonful. It was delicious. Next time we will try the risotto with mixed mushrooms and parmigiana. The vegetarian at your table can enjoy eggplant parmigiana, veggetali alla griglia and other vegetable creations. Entrees are varied and range from braised pork shank, chicken parmigiana, bistecca alla griglia, filet of sole with shrimp in a tomato caper sauce and whole branzino, to name a few.

If you have room for dessert, enjoy a cup of cappuccino with house made tiramisu, zeppole or toasted almond cake.
For lunch, pizza in its many variations is offered as well as interesting paninis, hearty hero sandwiches and even a Sofia burger. If you indulge in a hearty lunch, it may be difficult to return to work. Several kids meals are offered with appealing choices of cheese ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs and pizza margherita.

Add Sofia’s Italian Bistro to your Italian dining choices and savor their pizzas and varied menu soon.

Sofia’s Italian Bistro
100 West Boston Post Road
Mamaroneck, New York
914- 6304501

Recipe: Cavatelli Abruzzese (Serves 2)

1 pound bulk Italian sausage sweet or hot, or 1 pound sausage removed from its casing
1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and stems removed
1 pound frozen cavatelli, cooked al dente and drained
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan or romano to taste

Heat oil in skillet. Add sausage and sauté until cooked through. Add broccoli rabe and garlic and sauté until garlic is golden and broccoli is cooked through. Toss the pasta into the skillet and toss in the red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Serve topped with grated cheese.

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