Real Portuguese Cooking at 42 the Restaurant
42 stories above downtown White Plains’ Ritz Carlton, the tallest building between NYC and Boston, the glass paneled walls of 42 The Restaurant offer eye popping views of Westchester County and a distant Manhattan skyline. With 4 kitchens, banquet space, and a lounge that extends up to the 43rd floor, the even bigger attraction here is down home Portuguese cooking in a casual fine-dining setting. Accessible via an elevator ensconced in an alcove well beyond the hotel lobby, you would think that 42 the Restaurant is exclusive with an ultra high price tag. But according to Chef Anthony Goncalves, “Guests just know, we have a huge Portuguese following with guests seeking us out from as far away as California and Portugal.” Here you will find honest and savory kitchen aromas just like your Mama’s…if she happens to be Portuguese.
Chef-owner Anthony Goncalves opened 42 the Restaurant in 2007 after a long run at NYC’s Trotters Tavern beginning in 1997 at age 26. Here he made his first bold move in 2001 dropping "Tavern" and overhauling the menu to reflect his Iberian/Portuguese-inspired roots. A year later, he took over the kitchen and taught himself to cook with help and inspiration from his family. Accolades soon rolled in from the likes of Crain's, The New York Times, Esquire, TIME. As Goncalves is quick to point out, he received his formal training not from a culinary school but from his own reading, practicing, and by fine tuning his kitchen skills with guidance from grandmother Gloria and father Tony Sr.. Living up to the restaurant’s tagline,“It’s Different Up Here”, chef Anthony says, “It’s the customer experience and how we work together that makes it different. Iberian-American dishes without pretension is what you get here.”
What to Eat
Goncalves draws his ingredients from around the world, including fresh fish from Portugal several times a week but also sources local ingredients whenever possible.
If you find yourself a special guest of Goncalves, you may be treated to a fisherman’s stew anchored with octopus risotto and Portuguese sausage, sprinkled with artichoke chips, and garnished with a pirri-pirri, a pepper originally from Africa and adopted by the Portuguese that emanates a sweet heat unlike habanero or ghost. I'm thinking the closest match on the menu to the fisherman's stew is their Pimenton Rigatoni with shrimp, calamari, piri piri, tomatos, and parmesan.
Wait staff deftly pair a wide array of wines from their extensive cellar that's outfitted with glass doors visible from the upstairs lounge. In my case, I asked for a beer recommendation which turned out to be a Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewery. This hoppy brew cut through yet accentuated the stew's strong mélange of ingredients.
Other menu items to be on the lookout for is their parsley cavatelli with butternut squash bolognese and Pecorino. Another, the Portuguese Fried Chicken "PFC" is based on chicken thighs marinated for 30 hours, coated with smoked paprika, bayleaf and buttermilk, and then fired in a pizza oven to create a crispy, "fried" taste served with delicately sauted garlic kale cheddar grits for a soul food twist. All dishes artfully showcase each ingredient even if sauces are involved.
Chef Goncalves isn't the only star on staff. Head pastry chef Melissa Camacho competed on Top Chef making her Sonhos, a traditional Portuguese donut of fried dough rolled in sugar but amazingly lost to the competition. This has apparently only steeled her resolve to make the best Sonhos (dreams in Portuguese) around.
Be sure to top off your meal with their house made Sambuca made from Goncalves' father’s secret recipe..much smoother than expected since it's infused on site with fresh-roasted espresso beans.
Planning Your Visit
Street parking anywhere near the restaurant is metered and limited to 2 hours so the only viable parking is to use valet at the Ritz Carlton entrance for $10. Dress is business casual or higher.
Photos courtesy of 42 the Restaurant. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored tasting.