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Katonah Woods Kitchen & Bar: A New Gem

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Katonah Woods Kitchen & Bar: A New Gem

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Does anybody remember Oliver’s Restaurant, the tired old burgers-and-nachos eatery in the strip mall next to the grocery store in Katonah? Maybe not, because your parents probably had the good sense not to drag you there more than once.

Well, there’s great news for local foodies, because this past summer Oliver’s was replaced by a promising new meeting-and-eating spot: Katonah Woods. On a recent evening, with growling tummies and open minds, my parents, grandparents and I gave Katonah Woods a try. We were not disappointed.

The space has been fully and beautifully renovated, with exposed brick, espresso-stained wood, a segmented glass front wall bringing in natural light without sacrificing charm, and photographs and memorabilia referencing the history of Katonah – – specifically, the move of historic homes and structures from Old Katonah to present-day Katonah in the 1890s. As you walk through the wood-framed entryway, the room’s rustic yet contemporary aesthetic pulls you in immediately. You almost forget that you are in a suburban strip mall. At the helm of the new establishment is a partnership that includes a longtime Katonah family, lending authenticity to the local thematic hook.

Our party of five was ushered graciously to a comfortable round table, where we were assisted by two helpful, friendly (but unobtrusive) waiters. Hot, fragrant, fresh-from-the-oven sourdough bread was placed on our table and devoured within minutes.

The Katonah Woods menu ranges from the casual (interesting burgers and hand-tossed pizza, for example) to more glamorous offerings such as Montauk striped bass over cannellini ragu with little neck clams, lobster and shrimp risotto over baby spinach, and braised short ribs au jus over polenta. Prices for starters range from $12-$20; specialty sandwiches from $14-$19; salads from $10-$12 (without added proteins); gourmet burgers (prime aged beef, unless you decide to substitute a veggie burger) from $15-$17; and dinner entrées from $22 (gnocchi bolognese) to $38 (filet mignon with sides).

Our party of five enjoyed our selections without reservation. A starter of salt-and-pepper deep-fried calamari with two sauces was just the right combination of crispy and tender. While the dish wasn’t “creative” or unusual, it was exactly what calamari lovers like my family are looking for.

Salads are my thing, and I like to add some protein, so I went with the baby arugula salad with navel orange segments, shaved red onion, fennel, goat cheese, almonds and fresh lemon vinaigrette, topped off with grilled salmon. The ingredients combined beautifully, with the lemon vinaigrette setting off the perfectly charred salmon especially nicely. Everything was fresh and crisp and beautifully presented.

My grandmother’s lobster-and-shrimp risotto over baby spinach with lemon-and-garlic sauce was a favorite at our table — Grandma had to fight to keep the “sharing” at the table under control. Risotto can be mushy and bland, but this was prepared perfectly, with distinct yet tender rice grains bathed in a smooth and creamy, but surprisingly sharp, sauce.

My grandfather, a nonagenarian who has spent the last 70 years dining all over the world, went with one of his traditional favorites: a prime aged New York strip steak. This one was served on a bed of black-truffle beurre blanc topped with shoestring fried onions, mashed potatoes and crispy steamed asparagus. Grandpa was delighted with his dinner: the thick,tender steak was cooked to perfection, complemented by just the right side notes.

My father went in a simpler direction, choosing the hand-tossed veggie pizza. The crust was medium thickness, slightly charred on the outside but tender on the inside. The tomato and veggie toppings were fresh and tasty. Dad’s portion was surprisingly large, with enough for him to slice up and share around.

I can’t report on desserts, because we were fully satisfied by our starters and entrées with no room to spare. Sweet treats will be something to look forward to on my next trip.

Katonah Woods is a fabulous addition to the local food scene — fresh, inviting, on-trend and somehow “urban” — even in a strip mall. I’ll be back.

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Katonah Woods Kitchen & Bar: A New Gem