Porchetta at La Bocca

Table Hopping with Morris Gut: Valentine’s Day

Amore! The coupling of good food and wine with the sensual is the aphrodisiac of literature and verse through the ages. Pucker up! Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, Feb. 14th. Warm things up a bit, make a whole week out of it! Restaurants and nightspots throughout Westchester are gearing up to serve some of their most titillating specialties. Take out is a fine option, too. Here is an eclectic round-up of delectable dishes and dining venues for you and your loved one and don’t forget to reserve early…

Comforting Polenta with Shrimp at Trattoria Vivolo – Chef/owner Dean Vivolo’s new winter menu includes a wonderful Paglia e Fieno con Funghi. The Linguine Vongole is not to be missed. Chef Vivolo’s robust regional Italian cuisine is served out of a restored vintage diner just across from Harrison’s Metro-North station and the new Avalon complex. Sit at the counter, tuck into a booth, or take a table in the rear greenhouse and enjoy the surprising contemporary and traditional flavors emanating from his kitchen: tasty thin-crusted pizza; fresh old-fashioned Meatballs and Sausage; Crostino di Polenta with shrimp or mushrooms; Lasagna Bolognese al Forno; Osso Buco, tender braised veal shank; or traditional Baccala. Great staff. Good wine list. Sparkling lights. Closed Mondays. Free parking. Trattoria Vivolo, 301 Halstead Ave., Harrison. 914-835-6199

Porchetta at La Bocca – Caught Chef/proprietor Tony Spiritoso one day just as he was putting the finishing touches to a savory and moist boneless stuffed pork roast, Italy’s famed porchetta. Incredibly tempting as a main course or in a salad. A few slices and I was smitten. A meal here usually begins with platters from Tony’s signature antipasti bar loaded daily with tempting cured imported meats, cheeses and appetizing house made salads. Tony has brought his vintage bright red slicing machine along wherever he has been, and it sits here ready to roll at the antipasto counter. Some consider La Bocca the most authentic Italian kitchen in the area. Seasonal pastas, meats, fish and game. The wine selection is among the best in the county. The dining room is strewn with artistic columns and seasonal artifacts. There is a wine room for private events. Open 7 days. La Bocca, 8 Church St., White Plains. 914-948-3281 

Southern Comfort at Freebird – I have been enjoying my visits to Freebird Kitchen & Bar this past year. We devoured Fried Calamari, meaty Racks of Baby Back Ribs, Cobb Salad, spicy Chicken Wings, crispy Brussels Sprouts. Shrimp & Grits and Braised Short Ribs, too. The cooking here is very satisfying, and all done with a friendly southern theme. Portions are ample and shareable. The lighting and those artsy birds hanging from the ceiling in the dining room give it a magical atmosphere. There is a seasonal rooftop. Sunday Night Jam sessions. Sprawling bar. Craft beers. Now open for lunch. Happy hours: Tues.-Thurs. 4-6pm; Fri. 2-6 p.m. Weekend Brunch. Closed Mondays. Freebird, 161 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains. 914-607-2476 

Classic Italian at Torcello – Imer Rraci and his veteran team have reimagined the former La Riserva, a lovely setting for the Italian classics. Named after an island off the coast of Venice, Chef Avni turns out such winning dishes as: colorful Mozzarella Caprice; Eggplant Rollatini; Rigatoni Bolognese in a meat sauce; Risotto Di Funghi with porcini; Veal Martini; classic Rack of Lamb; and delicious Pollo Torcello, topped with applewood bacon and melted fresh mozzarella in a light bourbon mushroom sauce. Rraci has spent years working for the former Giambelli in Manhattan, and Valbella in Old Greenwich, CT. Open 7 days for dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. Bar/cocktails. Weekday Happy Hours: 4:30-6:30 pm. Free parking. Torcello, 2382 Boston Post Road, Larchmont. 914-833-1118 

(Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: