When John Gazzola purchased four storefronts on a tired stretch of East Post Road in White Plains, the seasoned restauranteur wasn’t just thinking food — he was thinking revitalization. Gazzola, 32, grew up in White Plains, and he’s watched with a careful eye as the city has evolved over the last decade. In came the Ritz Carlton, then NYC transplants like Serafina and BLT Steak, among others.
Now Gazzola is leading his own White Plains renaissance of sorts — centered on the stretch of bars around Mamaroneck Avenue and East Post Road.
In May, he opened Mulberry Street Italian Kitchen, a red sauce Italian joint that’s as family friendly as it is fun with its Saturday night piano bar. They’ve got lots of high chairs. “We’re used to crying babies,” jokes his partner Ralph Battista Jr. (below, left), who also grew up in White Plains. “The more the merrier.”
In the next few days, Gazzola (below, right) will open a second location of his midtown favorite Butterfield 8 on East Post Road, just a few doors down from Mulberry. With a gorgeous mahogany horseshoe bar and American comfort food favorites, Butterfield 8 is going to be the perfect spot for date night. Between the wood paneled walls, the herringbone floor tiles, and the open kitchen, the space is truly stunning. It will also offer great people watching, since the double doors open up to the street.
Later this fall, Gazzola will open Lola’s Mexican Kitchen, a small plates style taqueria, in between Mulberry and Butterfield 8. Best of all: Lola’s double-door style windows will open up to the street, just like Butterfield 8′s, giving the restaurant an open-air quality. (There is a Lola’s in Stamford, Connecticut.)
“Every area needs a downtown, and White Plains has become that in Westchester,” says Gazzola. “I wanted to create a destination for people to go to eat.”
The area has foodie chops to vouch for it. The head chef for all three restaurants is Matt Safarowic, the protoge of The Cookery’s Dave Dibari. (And we heart all things Dave DiBari, particularly his Pizza Truck.)
What is Gazzola going to do with the fourth storefront he picked up? “I’m not sure,” he chuckles. “You got any ideas?”
Well, since he asked…
I vote for a classic French brasserie a la French Roast in the city. You can sit with a cafe au lait and read the paper, or order steak frites. Whatever he does, get excited, Westchester: Gazzola is about to establish an epicenter of good eats.
What do you think is missing from the Westchester dining scene? We’ll forward all comments to John Gazzola. Maybe he’ll take your idea!