A Look Back on a Decade of Local Dining

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In case you missed this story I wrote in print last week, here’s another look:

In 2000, would you have expected to head to the indoor farmers market in winter to shop for local food? Would you have thought to sit at a bar for dinner and order small plates? What about heading to one single restaurant where you can dine on food from Japan, China, Indonesia and Malaysia?

Over the past decade all these trends — local food, small plates and Pan Asian restaurants — have become commonplace. They may have started out quietly — a few tapas restaurants here, a farmers market there — but over the decade, they became part of our daily lives.

I’ve been writing about food since 2000, covering the upscale-casual trend, the dining at the bar trend and the small plates trend. I’ve watched farmers markets boom, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture open, Restaurant Week get popular, riverfront dining become possible and artisanal pizza make its way to the ‘burbs. I’m sure I’ve missed some trends, or restaurant openings and closings, but here’s a broad look at a timeline of how it happened.

2009

• The recession is in full force and casual and cheap dining are huge. We cover recession menus, fine dining for $20, best places to find empanadas and the openings of gastropubs such as Emma’s Ale House in White Plains, The Big Red Tomato in Haverstraw and the Peekskill Brewery.

• Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is very popular.

• Pan-Asian food explodes, with three new restaurants opening, all in Mamaroneck.

• Mamaroneck becomes a dining destination. Openings include Limoncello, Roasted Peppers, Haiku and Gin Ban.

• Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana opens in Yonkers, bringing New Haven-style pizza to New York for the first time. Along with Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, Frankie & Fanucci in Hartsdale and Iron Tomato in White Plains, the area now officially has artisanal pizza.

• With Blu Fig, Wasabi Grill and the Pig Pen, New City becomes a dining destination.

• The Journal News holds its first Small Bites Cookie Swap.

2008

• The Tarry Lodge opens in Port Chester, as Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich expand to Westchester. Chef-owner Andy Nusser of Hastings-on-Hudson is in the kitchen.

• Richard Gere’s Bedford Post Inn opens with chef Brian Lewis’ creative local menu.

• Communal tables are big at restaurants such as Peniche, Ruby’s Oyster Bar, and Morgans Fish House in Rye and Antipasti in White Plains.

• With Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry, X20 in Yonkers and Red Hat on the River in Irvington, Westchester gets destination dining on the Hudson River.

• Whether it’s big pots of fondue, hot stones or built-in gas grills, the trend at restaurants is to cook your own food.

• The Tap House opens in Tuckahoe, bringing Westchester its first gastropub.

• John Ubaldo, aka “John Boy,” starts selling his sought-after pork at the Pound Ridge Farmers Market. Now it’s on the menus of such chefs as Brian Lewis at Bedford Post.

• We’re beginning to pinch pennies, and The Journal News runs a summer-long series called “Budget Friendly Dining.”

• Other openings : Duke Ocean Grill in Tappan, Sidewalk Bistro in Piermont, Velo in Nyack, Ravi Continental Cuisine in Suffern, Hudson Water Club in Haverstraw, SOMA 107 in White Plains.

2007

• Peter X. Kelly opens X20 in Yonkers and wins “Iron Chef America” — practically on the same weekend in May.

• Fondue is hip (again).

• White Plains becomes a dining destination, with Antipasti, BLT Steak, The Melting Pot, Peniche, La Bocca, Boe@324 (now Gervasi’s) and Via Quadronno (now closed) all opening.

• Hotel dining is back: BLT Steak, 42, Med 1535 and 80 West are all in hotels.

• The Journal News and Small Bites name Hastings-on-Hudson, Cold Spring and Nyack as food destinations with our Food Finds feature.

• Before the bust, the boom: The $40 entree arrives in local restaurants, including at Gina Marie’s Trattoria in Eastchester, Emily Shaw’s at the Inn at Pound Ridge and Monteverde at Oldstone Manor in Cortlandt.

• Cafe Meze in Hartsdale closes, leaving the Livanos family one Westchester restaurant: City Limits Diner.

• Indoor farmers markets come to Westchester for the first time.

• The Journal News launches its first recipe contest: Locally Grown.

• Mount Kisco dining is hot. New restaurants include The Flying Pig, Pour, Brio, Cafe of Love and Q.

• Other openings: Red Hat on the River in Irvington, Mima in Irvington, Espana in Larchmont, The Tap House in Tuckahoe, Union Restaurant & Bar Latino in Haverstraw.

2006

• Pan-Asian starts to become popular as the second Haiku opens in Cross River and Asian Temptation opens in White Plains.

• Sunset Grill in White Plains (now Emma’s Ale House) and Dona Maria Mexican Bistro in Suffern (now closed) introduce interior Mexican to the region.

• Readers send in their soda bread recipes for St. Patrick’s Day.

• Luc Dimnet takes over Buffet de la Gare in Hastings-on-Hudson. The Goulets later take it back.

• The first Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is held in November.

• La Boqueria, a Spanish grocery from one of the former owners of Gourmet Garage, comes and goes in Nyack.

• Openings include Mo’s New York Grill in New Rochelle, Sushi Nanase in White Plains, Backals in Scarsdale (now Bistro Citron), One in Irvington (now closed), Bloom in Hastings (now Rain Water Grill), Flirt Sushi Lounge in Irvington (now Chutney Masala), Coco Rumba in Mount Kisco (now Hacienda del Sol) and the renovation at Monteverde at Oldestone Manor. Kevin Bertrand and Anibal Romero take over the kitchen at Kittle House. Bertrand is now at The Tap House in Tuckahoe.

• Highlights of the year included dinners at Plates in Larchmont and Valley at the Garrison.

• The Journal News and LoHud.com launch the Small Bites food blog.

2005

• We cover the upscale-casual trend and report that fine dining is on its way out. Auberge Argenteiul in Hartsdale has closed; Auberge Maxime in North Salem became Vox; Maxime’s in Granite Springs became Traditions 118 and Xaviars at Garrison became Tavern at the Highlands Country Club. The only restaurants left (at the time) who requested jackets: The Arch in Brewster; Equus in Tarrytown; La Crémaillère in Banksville; La Panetière in Rye; Xaviars at Piermont. Now none request jackets.

• Barbecue becomes big with four restaurants opening. Only Q in Port Chester is still around. (And now has a second branch in Mount Kisco.)

• Fergus Henderson, the British chef at St. John in London who became famous for the book “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating,” cooks at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

• Jeremy Smollar brings molecular gastronomy to Crabtree’s Kittle House. He stays about six months.

• Wayne Nish, formerly of March in Manhattan, gives the menu at the Hudson House in Nyack the once-over. He, too, stays about six months.

• Openings include Vertigo in Nyack.

2004

• Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture and Blue Hill at Stone Barns open in Pocantico Hills, helping to propel the eat-local charge to a national level.

• Small plates start showing up on regional menus, including at Restaurant X and the former Aperitivo Plus in Larchmont (now Espana).

• The Journal News profiles the food cultures of people from Italy, Mexico, Russia, Jamaica, the Philippines, and more, and reports on how to make latkes with Lisa Schwartz, who now makes cheese on her Rainbeau Ridge Farm in Bedford, and recently published a book about her experiences.

• Slow cookers make (another) triumphant return.

• Openings include Chiboust in Tarrytown, Ambadi in White Plains, Ocean House in Croton-on-Hudson, and RK in Rye (now Morgans Fish House).

• Anthony Goncavles’ Trotters in White Plains starts to morph from beer bar to high-end dining. He now owns 42 and Peniche in White Plains.

• David DiBari takes over the kitchen at Zuppa in Yonkers. He now owns The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry.

• Whole Foods Market opens in White Plains.

• Julia Child dies.

2003

• John Koshiba closes Ichi Riki in Nyack. Doug Nguyen opens Wasabi in its place.

• Hank Hovorka opens Hunters in the former Coven Cafe in Nyack. It is now Cafe Barcel.

• Because France refused to support the Iraq war, the menus at the cafeterias in the United States House of Representatives buildings changed the name of french fries to freedom fries, and Anti-French sentiment hits local restaurants.

• Gourmet Garage gives Eastchester a go; it later closes.

• Dines Farm begins selling chicken at farmers markets, and becomes among the first to offer local meat at the market.

2002

• Umami Cafe in Croton introduces umami, or “the fifth taste,” to the Lower Hudson Valley.

• Lime, a short-lived but high-quality restaurant in Larchmont, opened. It is now Sardegna.

• MacMenanamin’s Grill & Chefs’ Works opens in the former Plastic Works! building. There was a cooking school, a wood-fired oven and a wine cellar. The restaurant became Don Coqui in 2009.

• Beth Carrie’s brings upscale New American dining to New City.

• Ruby’s Oyster Bar led the way for a restaurant renaissance in Rye.

2001

• The Baker’s Cafe, a popular bakery known for its Morning Glory muffins, closes. Willy Nick’s opens in its place.

• We’re eating more cheese, and it shows as restaurants, including Restaurant X in Congers and La Panetiere in Rye, add more cheese selections to their menus.

• Nuevo Latino cooking is making inroads in Manhattan, and, with a profile on Anibal Romero, sous chef at Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua, The Journal News predicts more Latin-influenced restaurants over the next decade.

2000

• Apple martinis are all the rage.

• Eating at the bar is a a new phenomenon. Local restaurants in on the trend: LuShane’s in Nyack, Lexington Square Cafe in Mount Kisco, Harvest on Hudson in Hastings-on-Hudson, Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua and the former Triology in Croton.

• Chef Peter X. Kelly launches Impromptu Gourmet, his line of gourmet dinners that are reheated by submerging vacuum-sealed bags into boiling water. (Hello sous-vide!) It later folded.

• The Livanos family, owners of City Limits and Oceana, celebrate 15 years in the dining business.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, 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.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this again, Liz. A wonderful cornucopia of memories covering just the last decade of food & dining in these parts. I have been tracking it for going on 30 years…just shows you how exciting and fickle the restaurant scene can be.

  2. What a great timeline! I have to chuckle at the “jackets required” idea. It goes to show how much, not just dining, but society has changed as a whole. Food has become more detailed and elegant, while atmosphere has become more casual. I like it like that. Bernard Le Bris, former chef/owner of Auberge Maxime, is now doing home cooking classes and parties along with boutique catering. Where much of the focus is on learning and conversation.

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