Have kids? Wanna eat something a bit more interesting than McDonald’s or your neighborhood slice joint? Here are three suburban spots worth visiting, even with your kids in tow.
Mama Chow, Southport, CT
This mama loves Mama Chow! Located near 95-Exit 19 in Southport, CT, this new Asian street food restaurant is bright, cheery, casual and tasty. A great place to take the whole family.
When Mama Chow opened in March, I immediately noticed some strikingly similar menu items to another local Asian street food CT favorite, Mecha. It turns out that Mama Chow’s chef and owner, Kim Pak Chai, was the opening chef at Mecha when it first came to Fairfield and, as such, he co-created those familiar sounding dishes while at Mecha.
Much like Mecha, Mama Chow offers a menu of tasty pan-Asian small plates and noodle dishes served in casual, hip digs. But at Mama Chow, Chef Chai wants to focus on his Malaysian roots. To that end, don’t miss out on trying one of his laksas, a Malaysian staple coconut curry noodle soup. We sampled the version with pork and chicken and it was a perfectly balanced bowl, alternating nicely between notes of cream from the coconut and spice from the curry.
In addition to the Malaysian laksa, Mama Chow offers several ramen, pho and “brothless” noodle dishes. Our waiter told us the most popular of the brothless noodles was the KLM (aka Kon Loh Mee) - BBQ roasted pork, pork wontons, baby bok choy, pickled Serrano chili and noodles.
While at Mama Chow, I suggest not skipping the small plates, even if that means sharing a noodle bowl with the others in your party to make room. We really loved the Mala Beef with Szechuan peppers small plate - what could have ended up an overwhelmingly spicy dish was instead an intensely flavorful mix of fragrant cilantro, crunchy peanuts and delicious red chili oil. We also tried a few of the small plates that originated at Mecha; and were very happy with the Mama Chow versions.
The Mama Chow space is not huge, but the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming to larger groups and certainly children. The restaurant does not take reservations. Opening hours are 11am to 9pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 11am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Revenge BBQ, Irvington, NY
About two and half years ago, Revenge BBQ opened in Irvington with the hope of bringing “Texas BBQ to the Rivertowns.” I’d been hearing good things about the spot for awhile now, and finally, we made it over with our kids. It’s a small counter service operation with limited seating and a thriving take out business (note there are a few tables outside that will obviously not be there once the weather cools). We arrived close to opening, and by the time we left, the small space was packed.
Revenge offers the usual smoked meats by the pound like brisket, pulled pork and pork ribs, as well as a smoked chicken and turkey. It also has a nice rotating selection of sausages. Sides like potato salad, mac and cheese and slaw are also on offer - both my girls said this was the best mac and cheese they’d ever had.
If you prefer your meats between bread, Revenge also has a bunch of sandwiches. My big girl loved her hot dog, and as for me - a person who doesn’t *love* BBQ - I immediately honed in on the BBQ brisket tacos. Those tacos, served at $4 a pop with cilantro, onions and tomatillo sauce, were SO delicious, that I went back to the counter and ordered more.
Revenge is located at 48 Main Street in Irvington, NY. It's open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 7pm (or sold out).
Da Giorgio, New Rochelle, NY
Years ago, a family friend who owns a shop on Arthur Avenue told us we needed to check out Da Giorgio in New Rochelle. So we did check it out and we very much found it delicious. After a long hiatus, I recently went back again - it’s still great.
The restaurant sits in an unassuming shopping center in the North End of New Rochelle (close to the Hutch). Its interior looks like many other Italian restaurants around the tri-state area, but its food is much better than the usual.
The menu at Da Giorgio is relatively short - there are a handful each of antipasti, salads, pastas and fish or meat entrees. You’ll find some typical Italian dishes on the menu like a Caesar Salad, Fettuccine Bolognese and Chicken Scarpariello. But Da Giorgio also has some unique tricks up its sleeve.
On my most recent visit with my best girl from college, we shared a delicious burrata antipasti. Pretty much all the burrata dishes I have had consist simply of a delicious slab of creamy cheese simply drizzled in olive oil and salt and served with tomatoes or roasted red peppers. At Da Giorgio, the burrata is instead topped with brûléed grape tomatoes, nuts and basil and garnished with beets. It’s a composed dish that really shines.
When at Da Giorgio, do not miss the namesake Rigatoni Da Giorgio - fresh pasta served with chunks of filet mignon and zucchini in a Cognac cream demi-glace. It’s a very, very good dish, best shared with a buddy.
The ambiance at Da Giorgio is friendly and welcoming, but the space is narrow and somewhat tight, so when it gets busy weekend evenings, it is probably not as appropriate for kids. I would suggest going close to opening or for lunch if bringing along kids.
Da Giorgio is located at 77 Quaker Ridge Road in New Rochelle. It is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from noon to 3pm and for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm to 10pm and Sunday from 5pm to 9pm.