NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — For years, the restaurant scene in Westchester County has simmered in the shadow of the five boroughs.
But no more.
The esteemed Michelin Guide is now including Westchester eateries on its popular list of excellent, affordable restaurants, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.
The Cardinal’s Ragu, a regal veal entree, is one of the dishes that earned Maria restaurant in New Rochelle notice from the people behind the world famous guide book.
“We’re pleasantly surprised and a bit humbled, I guess,” chef Giovanni Cucullo said.
Cucullo said mama would be proud. Maria is named in her honor, and filled with keepsakes from her kitchen.
Watch: Eater Breaks Down Michelin’s 2020 Guide On CBSN New York
Now it’s one of eight Westchester restaurants on Michelin’s “Bib Gourmand” list — premier spots for excellent, affordable dining where you can get two courses and a glass of wine for $40-$50.
“There’s a lot of love going into the food, and I’m bringing it to the table at a value so the guest can get a great meal at an affordable price. They don’t have to ‘fine dine,'” Cucullo said.
It’s the first time Michelin has expanded New York dining coverage beyond the five boroughs.
A longtime observer of the Westchester restaurant scene said cuisine in the county is coming into its own.
“We get the ripple effect from New York City. The chefs come here, and the techniques and ideas are right here. They’re coming here. They are here,” said John Turiano of Westchester Magazine.
Back at Maria, Aiello let the chef talk so he could eat.
“I’m staying true to my family, my mother, the namesake, but I also want to cook things that I enjoy,” Cucullo said.
With a nod from Michelin, it’s shaping up to be a vintage year.
You’ve no doubt heard about “Michelin stars.” Every fine dining restaurant wants at least one. The company will announce them on Oct. 21, with Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Pocantico Hills section of Tarrytown widely expected to become the first Westchester restaurant to get a Michelin star.