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By Caitlin Brown

For lovers of small plates, handcrafted cocktails, and wood-fired sides, Village Social Kitchen is the dining destination in downtown Rye.

The vibe is low-key but hip, and there is a bustling crowd, both at the bar, which serves a full menu (and has two large TVs for sports lovers wanting to catch a game), and in the main dining room, which includes outdoor seating for those wanting to enjoy al fresco dining and people watching.

Owner Joe Bueti’s vision was to recreate a city gastropub with contemporary comfort food and a neighborhood feel. Mogan Anthony, who worked at various Jean Georges establishments before becoming executive chef of Bueti’s restaurant group, describes the menu as veggie-centric and Japanese-inspired. And in a few short months, Chef Alex Aparicio, formerly of Dove Tail, Avant Garden, and Bobby Flay, has attracted a big following.

We had a hard time choosing among the starters, so we asked our waiter for his recommendations. We shared the popular Avocado Toast (the combination of creamy burrata, avocado, and pea pesto is divine) and the sinfully good Bacon Dumplings. The Social Wings, with Vietnamese lime glaze, are a heavenly alternative to the standard Buffalo Wings bar fare. We couldn’t resist trying the Salty Pretzel Tuna, as it sounded, well, different. It made out taste buds sing with its juxtaposition of cool and hot, spicy and delicate, and lots of crunch.

For those who can’t get enough organic vegetables, try the Roasted Beets with grapefruit, sunflower seeds, and horseradish yogurt, or the Mother’s Grain Salad of arugula, wheat berries, quinoa, cucumber, hazelnuts, and more tossed with yogurt vinaigrette.

The Wood-Fired Corn on the Cob and the Crispy Artichokes bring new meaning to Sides and Vegetables.

For the main course, Village Social offers a range of fish, pasta, meat, and poultry dishes. Try the Seafood Fettucini with Calabrian chili, Izakaya Tuna with a tamarind glaze and served with ginger rice, Charred Skirt Steak, or Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop.

If you’re bringing the kids, they’ll be thrilled with a Kobe Beef Hot Dog, Short Rib Grilled Cheese, or the Dare Devil Pizza.

In addition to a small but fine wine selection, they mix up handcrafted cocktails with names like No Brainer (gin, cucumber, mint) and Manhattan on Tap.

One of the best things about Village Social, aside from its culinary creations, reasonable prices, and topnotch service, is that they installed soundproofing. It’s one of the few popular restaurants where you can carry on a conversation with your dinner partner.

Village Social, located at 67 Purchase Street, is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. To make a reservation, call 612-4267.

Photos by Pedro Garcia


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