Chefs to Watch: Andy Nusser of Tarry Lodge in Port Chester

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Chef-owner Andy Nusser

The 411 on Tarry Lodge.

Born: Aug. 22, 1960, Santa Monica, Calif.,

Grew up: Santa Barbara, Calif., with years in Spain and Sullivan County N.Y.

Culinary School: Culinary Institute of America

Experience: Po, Babbo, Casa Mono, Bar Jamon, Tarry Lodge

Cooking style: Fresh ingredients prepared simply. Ingredients of excellent quality should be presented with a minimum of fuss. Reduction sauces and butter are tricks of the trade to mask the flavor of low quality ingredients. My trick is obtain the best ingredients, use restraint and let them shine on their own. A fresh piece of fish is served best with olive oil, lemon and salt. A really fresh piece of fish is served best the same way but raw.

Signature dish: Guanciale Pizza. The guanciale pizza was inspired by the Casa Mono dish of a sunnyside-up duck egg served with fingerling potatoes, mojama (a salt-cured tuna) and black truffles. I swapped the mojama for guanciale and essentially made a bacon, truffle and egg pizza. The duck egg was too big to cook in time, so we switched to the chicken egg. it is the second best selling pizza at Tarry Lodge after the Margherita. You never know what will become a signature dish. the customers decide for you.

Why he’s one to watch: We’ll put Tarry Lode pizza up against any of the new, fancy artisanal places in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Actually, we’ll put Tarry Lodge up against any casual restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. And that’s the key: Nusser has found a way to bring city-style and quailty cooking north, but he makes the restaurant work for the suburbs. It means we can have a date night at a table for two, or get takeout for the kids on Friday nights. The restaurant works equally well for a business lunch as it does for a fun dinner out with the girls. And that’s because Nusser uses the best ingredients, and lets them do the talking.

Future influence: I want to make more pizza in Westchester. After a while your personal life has an effect on your food. If I am lucky enough to continue with another project it would be a smaller place which to me feels warmer. And more casual, in a family-friendly way but with a great wine list. The menu would be smaller but still have killer pizzas and antipasta. And my kids would work there.

Photo by Mark Vergari/TJN.

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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.

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