Top 5 Restaurants of Hudson Valley NY
Just a stone’s throw north of New York City lies one of the country’s most underrated vacation destinations – The Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley comprises the valley surrounding the Hudson River and several communities adjacent to it. Filled with scenic mountains, gorgeous historic estates, outstanding shopping, award-winning vineyards and wineries, and countless opportunities for outdoor activities, the Hudson Valley has something for everyone and can be a fantastic getaway location year-round. In recent years, the Hudson Valley has become famous for something new – its food. Award-winning, world-class restaurants have cropped up throughout the valley over the past decade or two, and the farm-to-table and gourmet dining options have made it one of America’s best culinary destinations. Below are five of the best restaurants of the Hudson Valley – just a short ride away from the excitement of Manhattan, but worthy of a visit all on their own.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Highly celebrated chef and restauranteur Dan Barber opened Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Pocantico Hills of the Hudson Valley in 2004. Stone Barns is a center for food and agriculture started by members of the Rockefeller family on the area of their estate originally intended to house a dairy farm. The concept behind Blue Hill at Stone Barns centers on sustainability – locavorism, farm-to-table dining, and nose-to-tail cooking. Barber uses only the things he can grow or get locally, and he won’t waste anything edible. The menu at Blue Hill is not traditional. The left side lists all of the fresh ingredients in the kitchen that day, and the right has a list of prices and the number of courses you can order. Customers are asked how many courses they would like and what they will not eat; after that, their dining experience is in the hands of the chef. Some standouts from the kitchen include panko-breaded hard-boiled egg with pistachio and peas and lamb’s neck with asparagus and fiddle head ferns. Prices range from $108 for 5 courses to $208 for 12 courses. Make a reservation to eat there if you are looking for a luxurious, but adventurous eating experience.
Ristorante Caterina de Medici
It’s no wonder the Hudson Valley has become a food Mecca, with it also being home to the original campus of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) – the country’s best culinary college. The CIA is located in Hyde Park, New York, just ninety miles north of New York City, and it is home to several outstanding restaurants. One of its best is Ristorante Caterina de Medici – an extravagant Italian restaurant at the CIA’s Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine. The restaurant is beautiful — lavishly decorated in a Venetian style, with high, chandeliered ceilings, earth-toned walls, and a Spanish tile roof. Caterina de Medici features Ivy Award-winning authentic Italian fare, as well as an impressive Italian wine selection and unrivaled service (each table is served by a group of students who are in training at the college). And even though the restaurant is entirely student-staffed, these students are training to become (or already are) the best of the best in the culinary industry in America, so their skills will impress you. Standouts on the menu include a large antipasti selection (sautéed eggplant, tomatoes with anchovies, and roasted peppers) and fish dishes (like the sautéed halibut served with mussels, fennel, and Sardinian cous-cous). Reservations are required to dine at Ristorante Caterina de Medici, and making the trip to see the beautiful CIA campus and taste the exquisite food served there is definitely worth it.
From the celebrated sushi master Yoshimichi Takeda (who opened Manhattan sushi standouts Nobu and Masa) comes a new Sushi restaurant in the southernmost part of the Hudson Valley – Sushi Nanase. Sushi Nanase is located in White Plains, New York, just 30 miles north of the city. The authentically-Tokyo-feeling restaurant is tiny, like a hole-in-wall, but it is also elegant and pretty. Chef Takeda is know for his tough love attitude, and he often tells guests as soon as they walk in the door that they won’t find any American sushi at his restaurant. But no one will mind, because the freshness of the fish at Sushi Nanase – most of which is flown in from Japan — cannot be beat, and customers say that the Omakase (chef’s tasting menu) is to die for. If you are feeling adventurous, order the Omakase for $85 (including three appetizers, a broiled fish, sushi, and dessert) and you will get the chef’s freshest and most inventive selections for the day. Because of its small size, reservations are a must to dine at Sushi Nanase.
Xaviars at Piermont
Xaviars is an oldie-but-goodie, opened in Piermont, NY in 1987 by chef Peter Kelly (who is often believed to be the king of cooking in the Hudson Valley). There is only one word to describe the restaurant that is located just 35 miles north of New York City – elegant. From the impressive stone entrance, to the small dining room featuring delicate off-white walls, to the opulent floral arrangements, to the tables lined with gorgeous china and crystal for diners, every detail of Xaviars is stylish and sophisticated, and it makes for an unforgettable dining experience. The food makes just as much of an impression at Xaviars as the atmosphere does. The menu is local and sustainable, and Kelly’s dishes feature the freshest ingredients of the Hudson Valley. Xaviar’s offers an a la carte dinner option as well as five and ten course prix-fixe dinners. If you go, try the Wild Stripe Bass a La Plancha (for $36) or the King Salmon Double Wrapped in Smoked Bacon with Red Wine Syrup (for $32). Dining at Xaviars is an experience, and there are only two seatings for dinner each night (6pm and 9pm) – so reservations are recommended if you want to dine there.
Freelance Café and Wine Bar
Another standout of Peter Kelly’s is Freelance Café and Bar, also located in Piermont, NY. Freelance Café is the younger, more fun sibling of the more serious Xaviars. The atmosphere at Freelance has been described as lively, whimsical, and enlivening, and it draws a younger and more eclectic crowd than its fancier older brother. Freelance shares a building with Xaviars, but its décor is complete different – with bright colored paintings of Pastoral scenes lining the walls. Freelance features an American menu with influences of both bistro and trattoria cooking, and its menu is a bit more audacious and inventive than Xaviars. Standouts include the wasabi-crusted ahi tuna and Berkshire pork with fig sauce. Freelance is also a wine bar that shares its extensive cellar with Xaviars, and it can be a great place to stop for a late night bite and beverage. The dining room at Freelance café is tiny, and they don’t take reservations — so get there early or late to get a table – or be prepared to wait.