Finally â€” the wait is over for Tarry Lodge. (Unless you show up without a reservation, that is.) The restaurant opened Oct. 15, but anticipation has been building since 2006. After all the conjecture (are the rumors true? will they build in the space?), the Craigslist postings and the Batali confirmation, and the endless renovations and construction (will they ever finish?) â€” finally, this fall, we got to know our new neighbors at the Tarry Lodge.
And now, we get to the real reason everybody’s been so damn excited about this restaurant coming to Port Chester: delicious food for a decent price.
Not to mention there’s solicitous, professional service, a comfortable setting and the wow-factor of celebrity chef Mario Batali. The Tarry Lodge is raising the bar for everyone who thinks a decent plate of spaghetti needs to cost $40.Â In fact, this decadent black truffle pizza with guanciale and egg is just $14.
Amazing pizza. But just one complaint: while the edges were crisp and crunchy, the center of the pie was a little droopy. The flavor made up for any lapse in texture, though.
We started with antipasti. We ordered a ton, as you can see:
We ordered the octopus with baby potatoes ($8), tonno sott’olio (their version of tinned tuna) ($8), seppia (cuttlefish) with ceci (chickpeas) ($8), shrimp with pickled watermelon (crisp and refreshing) ($8) and my favorite, at 6 o’clock, the farro with charred corn and burrata ($5). See the beautiful shiso leaf garnishing it?
We also shared two pizzas, the black truffle (above) and the prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella and arugula, below:
Loved the flavors, but also a little difficult to keep the cheese from sliding off the slice when you pick it up. (Maybe that’s OK for some people… I can overlook a lot when the dish is delicious.) While I’m at it, I’ll add my only other complaint of the night: noise. The restaurant is loud. Really freakin’ loud. One person I know who went another night says he left with a pounding headache.
We drank Joe’s wine â€” that’s how we ordered it: it’s called Joe’s Rosso on the menu.
From the insalate section of the menu, we tried the crudo in scabece ($10), a fluke that’s (very) lightly cured and sprinkled with olive oil and salt. It comes with a lovely fennel salad and is just the sort of dish you might want if the rest of the meal is going like ours (heavy and rich):
We also ordered the insalata la loggia ($9)
Fresh with nice mix of greens.
Orecchiette with fennel sausage and rapini ($15) is my favorite pasta at Batali’s restaurant Lupa in the village, so we had to sample that. A home run. Bitter rapini, satisying sausage, pasta that gives a little without squishing in your mouth.
The linguine with clams, chiles and pancetta ($17) â€”
â€” was also terrific. Like surf & turf in a bowl. Fresh little nuggets of clam that tasted of the sea; delicious pancetta with some tooth.
The pumpkin lune with sage butter ($15) â€”
â€” was decadent. Definitely for sweet tooths, though the sage played nicely against the squash to counter that.
Joe Bastianich’s favorite dish (at least that’s what he told me), the pollo al mattone with treviso and oranges ($17) â€”
â€” was out-of-control delicious. (Al mattone means under a brick. I can see grill marks, too.) Though it’s listed on the menu as pollo (chicken) the waiter did tell me that it’s guinea hen (as Colman Andrews pointed out on Gourmet.com). That darker meat you get from that bird makes all the difference. Theres’s a depth there, and it’s a little gamier and juicier than any chicken, even a brined one.
For dessert, I can’t pass up anything with sour cherries. The Tarry Lodge Sundae ($8):
Great. The cherries tasted as if they were preserved by hand.
Chocolate gelato. Creamy, and not too sweet.
And figs with mascarpone.
The perfect Italian way to end a meal: a delicious dish that’s deceptively simple, understated and made with fresh ingredients. And that’s just how I would describe the food at Tarry Lodge.