Have you looked at the Orfino's Restaurant menu lately?
Since Chef Doug Tucci joined the establishment nine months ago, plenty of changes have been made.
Orfino's history dates back to 1983 when it was opened by a work force of three—Kathy Orfino, her 23-year-old son Michael and his fiancée Linda (a student at the time). Kathy and Michael were planning to buy a business, but had no specific type in mind when a realtor showed them a luncheonette in Briarcliff Manor. It was only the first stop on a planned tour of available sites or businesses.
"But it felt right," said Michael, "and we looked no further."
The seller stayed on for about a month, helping Michael get familiar with the kitchen and the recipes.
"None of the recipes were very fancy," Michael recalled.
Meanwhile, Kathy ran the front of the house and Linda waited on tables.
In the beginning, only breakfast and lunch were served. But as the business grew, dinner service was introduced and the menu became more and more Italian. On occasion, Kathy's husband Tony, who was busy running landscaping and floor tile laying businesses, would lend a hand.
Hamburgers and sandwiches gave way to pasta, seafood, steak and chops and in about a year, the luncheonette evolved into an Italian restaurant. Two dishes that were introduced during that first year of operation remain on the menu today—eggplant rollatini (filled with ricotta and mozzarella) and sweet Italian cheese cake.
A few years later, when a real estate firm vacated an adjacent storefront, Orfino's acquired the space and effectively doubled its seating capacity. The restaurant's popularity continued to grow, which allowed it to survive a serious fire in 2010 that put it out of business for five weeks.
Chef Doug Tucci came aboard in September 2010 and has added many dishes since his arrival. Entrée he has introduced include:
- Tagliatelle Bolognese—pork, beef, and veal sauteed with celery, onions, garlic, plum tomato and a touch of cream ($18)
- Pignoli and basil crusted Atlantic salmon rolled in crusted basil and pine nuts, grilled, and drizzled with homemade basil pesto ($21)
- Expresso rubbed veal chop—tender veal chops with espresso rub, grilled, and served over mashed potatoes ($28)
He also introduced roasted spring vegetable polenta (pictured)—an appetizer priced at $9 that includes Pecorino polenta topped with roasted zucchini, eggplant, pepper and asparagus.
Tucci was formerly the owner and chef of Fiorentina's in The Bronx. He will debut still more of his work when the summer menu at Orfino's is introduced on July 4.
This menu is still in the planning stage, but Tucci says it will include Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine-style steak), sliced steak over arugula, soft-shell crabs over pasta, grilled swordfish, citrus salmon and calzone stuffed with banana. Sole with white beans has been well received as a special and if it doesn't make the summer menu it will continue to be offered frequently as a special.
Tucci says Italian cheesecake and tiramisù, two homemade bestsellers on the present menu, will appear on the summer dessert list.
With Kathy's recent retirement, Michael and Linda became the sole proprietors of Orfino's.
Orfino's Restaurant is open on Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; on Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and on Saturday from 8 a.m. (breakfast) to 10 p.m.; it is closed on Sunday. It offers a special family-style menu on Wednesday evening for three or more people. The restaurant is located at 1201 Pleasantville Road, Briarcliff Manor, NY. 914-941-7353. www.orfinosrestaurant.com