This Week’s Restaurant Review: Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry


We’re going to try something new this week. The weekly restaurant write-up will move from The Line to the Wednesday section. This week we’ll cover Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry.

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But here’s the cool part: I want to include your comments. Last week’s review by the Blacks — Ravi Continental Cuisine in Suffern — got two pages of comments. I’d like to see some of those included when the review runs in print, too.

So here’s the deal: Small Bites readers will get a sneak peek at the review. Add your comments below and my editors and I will select a few that represent what readers are saying and publish them alongside the “official” reviews. First up? Half Moon in Dobbs — the waterfront restaurant everybody is talking about. Read on below and contribute your thoughts.

One disclaimer: What you say won’t influence the write-up. It’s already been through the editing process and is ready to print. On you go:

Judith Hausman
For The Journal News
Half Moon occupies a stunning piece of real estate in Dobbs Ferry on the very edge of the Hudson with views of the hills across the river and the bridges north and south.
Small tables nestle into niches along a wall of windows in the large dining room, and outside there are benches and decks, mere steps from the river. An interior grand staircase, edged with waved-glass detailing, leads up to a loft space that multiplies the possibility of a view and is available for private events.

The menu is thoroughly revamped. The Fort Pond Bay Company, which also owns three restaurants in Montauk and Harvest-on-Hudson in nearby Hastings-on-Hudson, knows a thing or two about menus for waterfront locations: lobster rolls and Ipswich clams, gazpacho with shrimp; cheddar and scallion croquettes to snack on with drinks; spectacular raw-bar “boats”; and a ceviche tasting, served in brightly colored glasses that reflect the setting sun.

And then there are formal entrées, followed by very large desserts to share by starlight. Corporate executive chef Vincent Barcelona describes Half Moon as “unexpected.” “We wanted to create something fun, whimsical, less dressy and more approachable,” he adds. “People are flipping over it.”

Principal owners Angelo Liberatore and Bruce Bernacchia are going for a Hamptons vibe and they use their Montauk resources to feature regional seafood, such as tilefish, trout and skate.

The self-described effort at local sourcing (how could it be Hudson Valley gazpacho before Hudson Valley cucumbers, peppers or tomatoes are available?) hasn’t been achieved yet, but as the season goes on, more local produce will likely be included, maybe even from the landscaped beds around the restaurant. (They are planted with herbs and vegetables, which also remind diners of Harvest-on-Hudson.)

Even when weather forced us inside, Half Moon still gave us front-row seats for the thunderstorm rolling in and the sparkling aftermath.

Spicy crisp calamari tossed in a garlic-dressed salad made a great appetizer, and then my hungry companion dug into a traditional, thick prime rib.

Half Moon also features “a la plancha” cooking, thinly sliced and seared beef, lamb, chicken, halibut, shrimp and more, seared on a very hot, flat iron pan.

My skate a la plancha was delicate but too soft and too sauced to show off this simple cooking style. Roasted potatoes “brava” on a sweetish tomato-based sauce were oily, as was the roasted endive alongside. Lamb chops — juicy and flavorful — fared much better.

A Montauk Clam Bake with lobster, clams, sausage, mussels, corn, potatoes, chicken and shishito peppers would make an impressive share, but all in all, the small plates seem to be a better way to go at Half Moon, especially outside.

The duck tacos, for example, are shredded and served with avocado, and make for a nice nibble. Pork buns are sinfully satisfying. The croquettes, which are quite popular, are crispy on the outside and filled with gooey cheese and scallions on the inside.

And there’s nothing like sitting by the water and dipping a warm fried Ipswich into a tartar sauce and dropping it into your mouth.

There’s also a middle-of-the-road area of the menu. If you don’t feel like sharing, but you’re not quite in the mood for an entrée, try the clam po’ boy or the lobster roll (rich and buttery).

Some of the dessert choices are standard, such as berries and whipped cream, cheesecake and bread pudding. We were tempted by a root-beer float (with two straws, please) and a $16 ice-cream sandwich, imagining a luxurious adult version of our lunchroom favorite.

While strewing the ensemble with fresh fruit was a cute idea, the creation turned out to be a napoleon: that is, crackly pastry sheets, layered with ice cream and whipped cream.

Still, for most of the menu, what you see is what you get. Barcelona and executive chef Sal Sprufero offer choices that are just right for this location, and they have made sure the setting isn’t the only reason to visit.

Half Moon
1 High St., Dobbs Ferry

Cuisine: New American
Price: Entrées $20 to $30, small plates less
Hours: Dinner nightly
In brief: The owners of Harvest-on-Hudson have turned the former Chart House restaurant into an American brasserie with a flexible menu and a fun vibe. Try duck tacos, Montauk calamari salad, and ceviche, or go for the plancha section with a mixed grill and meats like veal Porterhouse. The décor is funky and casual with bamboo wood floors, and outdoor seating on the patios, raw bar, lots of glass and two patios with tiki bars. The restaurant also offers stunning views of the Palisades, the George Washington and Tappan Zee bridges and the Manhattan skyline.
Features: Waterfront dining, views, singles appeal, seasonal cuisine, late-night eats, small plates, dine at the bar, meet for a drink, jeans OK, vegetarian friendly, romantic, private room, open Mondays

What we liked: Spicy calamari salad, lamb chops, prime rib, cheddar and scallion croquettes, lobster roll, ceviche, Ipswich clams

Editor’s Pick


About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.


  1. I agree that the menu was right on target and the food was delicious — especially that calamari salad — however when I went the kitchen was soooo slow and the inexperienced service taxed our already tried patience. I’m not sure I’d rush back there. Well, maybe I’d go back for drinks and snacks.

  2. Four of us were there on Friday night, the 4th. The inside of the restaurant was so dark that we and all the tables around us had to use the votive candles to read the menu by. By the time the food was served, you could not tell what you were eating. And it was definitely not worth putting up with the noise. We all like a convivial sound level but the dull roar that the high and open spaces in the restaurant create made the evening a lot less than enjoyable. I agree with Diane – go back but only for drinks outside.

  3. This place is dynamite. What a gem! We were lucky enough to test this place out during their “soft opening” in June. The hudson views are unbeatable and the ambiance is casual and romantic at the same time.

    The menu was filled with great options such as the duck tacos (they are a must order), fried oysters, tuna sashimi, as well as great entrees such as seafood bruschetta and an unbelievable burger.

    My whole party loved the food, prices and the staff big thumbs up, you will see us again soon!

  4. I have not been there as yet, but Michelle brings up a good point: NOISE. My friends and I boycott several of Westchester’s best restaurants because they are too loud.

  5. Food is very well priced and portions are very good. The wait was pretty short for an outside table. Our family enjoyed the meal and great view

  6. Mark Herceg on

    If anyone else had purchased the old Chart House, as a Rivertowns resident I’d support it. But since it is the same owners and chef from Harvest on Hudson, I’ll pass. In July 2007 I ate there with my family and two young daughters. While eating my broccali rabe, I felt something sharp in my mouth and took out a 3 inch long nail. I informed the manager who apologized and cut the tab in half. Mr. Barcelona, the chef, never came to apologize. I wrote to him and he owners, and only he sent an apology letter. I notified the Board of Health who did nothing. What if one of my two daughters had been eating the broccali rabe and had the nail in their mouth?? And this was supposedly from their “on premise garden”. Now these same characters are operating in Dobbs Ferry? No thanks.

  7. WOW Great food, Awesome views! . I love the drink specials and the very reasonably priced entrees! KUDOS to the team at half moon

  8. The front reception was not warm at all. We went outside near the water and was disappointed that they did not serve a full platters outside only ordervers. They took to long to get the wine to our table and it was warm, we returned it. They need more experienced service there. Not crazy about it at all. The inside bar made our mixed drinks well, the price of the drinks are a bit higher than most places.

  9. I’ve been to the Half Moon a couple of times with friends and family and everytime I come away feeling as if I’ve been on a mini vacation.
    My dad, a retired chef, who is incredibly finicky, was humbled by how good the lamb a la plancha was prepared. My friend’s mouths watered over the duck tacos, ceviche, trout and Montauk clambake. I personally was delighted with the mixed grill, brick chicken and tile fish.
    I’ll go back again and again.

  10. We went there recently and were not impressed. The hostesses were not friendly. Our waiter was very average. No bread was served and our water glasses were not refilled. I had the pork plancha and thought it was awful. It tasted like vinegar and the portion was so ridiculously large that it turned me off. The hors douvres were good and the drinks were good. I would not rush back!

  11. The Half Moon is great. We have been there each Friday since the so called “soft opening.” We were invited to private tastings and found with each menu change, something more delicious and inventive was added. The service is very good — a good customer and the wait staff will cultivate a good relationship. We usually take our favorite server’s suggestions. The suggestion are always on the money. We spent the 4th of July evening on the patio of the restaurant. What a wonderful place to experience the fireworks of not only Dobbs Ferry, but also Nyack, and Piermont.
    The restaurant is new, but in the able hands of Chef Vincent and owners Bruce and Angelo, it is a place to enjoy not only a good meal, but also a fun evening! Try several servers and see if you can find our very charming and favorite waitperson. I won’t give his name away as then he may be too busy for us!

  12. This place absolutely blows the old Chart House out of the water! The food is fantastic. Yes, the duck tacos are an absolute must. The beefsteak tomato and onion salad is simply superb and the halibut is perfectly seasoned. The waitstaff is more than qualified and know how to work with eachother. Michelle, you have to understand that 4th of July is was swamped–I was there as well. It is not usually that packed. Everyone from the park came in to be served and the facility just can’t handle that many people. It was still amazing to sit and have dinner (noisy or not) and watch the fireworks up and down the river. It had to be dark in order to see them! The Half Moon is already one of the top places to eat in Westchester.

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