Rivertowns Patch

The completion of a $50 million expansion program, begun in July, 2011, was celebrated with ribbon-cutting this week at the Empire City Casino in Yonkers.

During the expansion, the casino opened the 245-seat “pinch American Grill,” added gambling space and constructed a new casino entrance. A new cocktail lounge with retro bowling lanes was also part of the building program. [The name pinch is spelled with “p” as a lower-case letter.]

At the ceremony, Timothy Rooney, Jr., General Counsel of Empire City Casino, indicated that still more growth could be expected. “We will continue to expand and create new jobs,” he said. Empire City Casino has a work force of 1500 and is the largest private employer in Yonkers. It had 8.4 million visitors last year.

To date, Empire City Casino has generated $1.8 billion in education funding for New York State schools (since opening in October, 2006), Rooney said.

Dignitaries attending the festivities included New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.

Also participating were President and CEO of Empire City Casino Timothy Rooney, Sr., Chef Alain Ducasse who acted as a consultant for the new restaurant, pinch Executive Chef Fabienne Eymard and pinch Beer Program Manager James Tai. The pinch menu although American has international influences.

One hundred New York State beers including some brewed exclusively for pinch are on tap. The wine list has eighty bottles, mostly for wines from New York and California (about 75 percent), and France.

The menus at pinch

The pinch menu includes a half-pound cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, red onion and French fries at $16 and a boneless rib eye steak at $40. Sandwiches or salads start at $12 and pasta at $16. Other dishes include Atlantic Cod Brandade atop a potato puree with lemon, capers, croutons and brown butter ($26) and lamb T-bone chops with Mediterranean relish and an eggplant tart ($29).

A special seafood treat to try, Chef Ducasse told Patch through a translator, was flounder ceviche made with locally caught, thin-sliced flounder, red pepper, diced cucumber, and coconut milk. For a different but pleasant taste experience, he suggested ordering shrimp accompanied by a pinch-created spicy tomato syrup.

Fabienne Eymard grew up in southwest France and worked at three-star Michelin rated Taillevent in Paris in 2002 under renown chef Alain Solivérès and at the one-Michelin-star restaurant at the Hotel Caprice in Switzerland in 2004. Before joining pinch, she was Executive Sous Chef at Benoit in the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.

Beer program manager James Tai is a certified cicerone and certified BJCP beer judge (BJCP is a non-profit organization that certifies and ranks beer judges).

More to see and do while visiting

  • Use a house-provided “iPad.” While dining or having a beverage, learn about a beer, other beverages and homemade desserts
  • Buy a refillable “growler” (a container for carrying beer) at the Growler Shop. On subsequent visits, pay only for refilling it with selected popular brews.
  • Pour from your own beer taps. This is available at a limited number of tables at pinch
  • Wager at the betting cage in Dan Rooney’s Sports Bar
  • Bowl at one of Alley 810’s two old-fashioned lanes on the second floor
  • Stare in awe at the curved unframed window to the casino interior, a four-story-high, 300-foot glass arc
  • Inside the casino, marvel at the nail-art depictions of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building that line the gambling-floor wall
  • Gamble (of course)
  • To be available soon: pinch Rewards Program. Get your passport stamped each time you try one of the 100 New-York-brewed beers.

Pinch is open for dinner only seven days a week, beginning at 6 p.m.

The restaurant was designed by Roman and Williams, interior designers for the Ace and Standard hotels in New York City, and Richard H. Lewis Architect, the project architects for Balthazar and Minetta Tavern in New York City.

Empire City Casino has more than 5,300 slot machines, additional gambling attractions, live entertainment, concerts, onsite year-round harness racing and other places to eat.

The casino is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. For more information about the casino, call 914-968-4200 or go to www.empirecitycasino.com.

Empire City Casino, 810 Yonkers Avenue (at Central Avenue), Yonkers, phone number for pinch: 914-457-2541