People can grab a quick dinner anywhere, but it takes the right combination for patrons to go home saying they have enjoyed a complete dining experience.
That combination is what co-owners Mark Valentino, John Stubenvoll and Lou Cilento believe they have found in the Soho Grill, Harrison's newest restaurant recently opened at 385 Halstead Avenue.
"You get a plate that's going to knock your socks off and your coming in and getting an actual experience," said Valentino. "You get an environment that's actually different than what we have around here."
Valentino, who along with Stubenvoll grew up in Harrison, said he has been looking for a place in town offering great food along with a classy social experience for a while. The two paired up with Cilento, a family friend with a lifetime of restaurant experience, and together decided to open the restaurant.
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"I figure it's something we needed over here," Valentino said. "I needed to bring Lou's food to Harrison."
Cilento serves as executive chef for Soho Grill, coming to Harrison after spending two years in a Pleasantville restaurant and 17 years as executive chef of the Sands Hotel in Atlantic City. A veteran of the region's food scene, Ciliento said the restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes with a modern kick.
"I do northern Italian with a modern flair, it's not the old basic Italian," said Cilento. "You're going to get everything from empanadas to soft shell crab."
Other specialties include Chicken Luigi, a chicken and shrimp dish featuring a white wine shallot cream sauce, and Veal Vesuvio, proclutto and fresh mozzarella in a brown brandy sauce. Cilento said every dish is made fresh to order and is served to perfection for lunch and dinner.
To achieve a unique atmosphere the three made several changes to the inside of the establishment—formerly the Oakland Grill. The lighting has been altered, as well as the seating. The lounge has been reconfigured to create a relaxed, social atmosphere.
Although there aren't any structural changes to the floor plan, the new owners said patrons will notice a difference the first time they step into Soho Grill.
"We refined it," Valentino said. "We tweaked it and refined it, we made it exactly what we thought we would need."
The result is a location offering not only a complete meal, but also a lounge and fully stocked bar to offer the opportunity to enjoy the evening after dinner. Weekends will also feature live music, and several bands are already lined up for the summer.
At an easily accessible location close to Rye, Mamaroneck and obviously downtown Harrison, Valentino said he is optimistic that as word spreads things are going to be busy at Soho Grill.
"I have great expectations for this spot," he said. "Obviously we feel the formula is there and Harrison is the perfect place for it, we wouldn't do it any place else."