Stanley and I had the great pleasure of dining at the recently opened Da Toscano on Minetta Lane.
The most recent occupant of this space was Perla, and after a couple of years of remaining empty, it has been taken over by the former chef of Perla, Michael Toscano.
What he has accomplished here is remarkable. Even though the gas has not yet been turned on, the kitchen is functioning with electric hot plates and turning out wonderful food.
The menu is imaginative and varied. Main courses are huge and can easily be shared. We started with the minestra with pig snout and tripe and a special, crudo of razor clams. Initially, they mistakenly brought a plate of trout crudo, so I got to try both that and the clams, which were extremely delicious.
For our main courses, we had the pork chop wrapped in crisp pork belly and the veal head parmigiana. These were phenomenal, and we ended up taking home half of each, which made for a fabulous lunch the next day.
We shared the cheese cake for dessert. There is a small but nice selection of beers. We liked the “Stranger than Fiction” porter.
I can’t wait to come back and try some of the pastas.
The West Taghkanic Diner, on Route 82 just off the Taconic Parkway, at the Hudson/Ancram exit, had closed after being in business since 1953. We’ve been going there for occasional lunches for almost thirty years. While the food was not exceptional, it was a bit better than the average diner, and prices were quite low. I particularly liked the corned beef Reuben, and burgers were well-made. The building was thoroughly unaltered, giving it an old-fashioned charm.
The diner reopened last year under new ownership, after a thorough cleaning but with all the original features intact. Chef/owner Kris Schram, a Columbia County native and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, returned to his home region after working in major restaurants in the Napa Valley and Copenhagen. He focuses on locally produced ingredients and has created a limited menu of modern takes on classic diner specialties.
Though more expensive than it had been in its previous incarnation, it is still reasonable considering the quality of food, and it has become more popular than ever. Initially serving only breakfast and lunch, we had lunch there several times, and were excited when dinner was added recently.
We started with spicy chicken wings and a beet salad, moved on to Hudson Valley trout and roast pork shoulder. The food was not only delicious but also creative. For dessert, we had an excellent chocolate pudding. There is a nice wine and beer selection, along with cocktails. We drank a Snowy Night stout with dinner.
Lunch is also great, and they still serve a Reuben, though now it is made with pastrami.