Lots to Love at L’inizio in Ardsley

by Katie Schlientz
L'inizio Ardsley

Big things come in small packages.

It sounds cliché, but time and time again, I’ve found amazing dishes created in the smallest of spaces—a tiny kitchen in Tarrytown (ahem, The Tapp) to a gem of a spot to sip a great glass of wine (Ernie’s Wine Bar + Eats in Bronxville).

I thought of this cliché often as I sat in the back dining room at L’inizio while scraping what’s left of the rabbit ragu off the side of the ceramic dish in front of me. The restaurant is small, broken into two dining areas separated by a small serving bar, compartmentalizing the space even more.

L'inizio Ardsley
Restaurant team (and husband and wife) Scott and Heather Fratangelo gave the space a comfortable, almost European feel. I can imagine finding a place like this off a cobblestone street in Italy. The quaint space, may be a bit loud at dinnertime, but the entire village (in the case, Ardsley) knows it’s a great spot for an authentic meal with fresh ingredients.

I’ve already given a nod to my entrée, but I’m going to do something that’s a bit rare for me and talk dessert. And I’m not going to start with the dessert I ordered (although that was quite good). Instead, I’m going to dive into the dessert sitting across from me—the one my dining partner ordered. The one I had one single bite of and have thought of quite often since.

The one, the only, pumpkin cheesecake.

L'inizio Ardsley
You may have seen or heard about this dessert already. It graced the pages of the last IntoxiKate guide as one of my favorite fall dishes in the county. This cheesecake is one of the best desserts I’ve had lately—a creamy (traditional!) cheesecake consistency with a lot of nutmeg and pumpkin flavor.  But I also loved the prosecco caramel and pumpkin seed brittle (amazing!) that topped the dish.

L'inizio Ardsley

But there’s so much more to L’inizio than dessert. Let’s start with their “Barrels & Bites” menu, a one-two punch that offers small bites paired with some of the eatery’s signature cocktails using specially infused liquors created onsite. I started out the meal with the delicious octopus salad ($7) and the spicy basil margarita ($5). Other food options include a trio of crostinis ($9), arancini ($6) and buratta ($8).

l'inizio ardsley
While I try to order dinners on the menu so I can offer insight and advice on what to order, I couldn’t resist ordering one of the specials of the evening—the aforementioned rabbit ragu. A dish not found on many menus in the area, I was pleasantly surprised by both the presentation and flavor. (Kudos to Chef Scott who definitely got that one right!)

l'inizio ardsley
There were options on the dinner menu I definitely wanted to try—ricotta cavatelli with fennel sausage bolognese, the fettuccine with wild mushrooms, and the free range chicken scarpariello topped the list. Pastas are available in half orders (take advantage and order the small size for more sampling) and entrées run a reasonable $22 to $29.

{L’inizio: 698 Saw Mill River Rd., Ardsley, 914-693-5400, www.liniziony.com}

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