Persimmon-hued umbrellas line Hudson Water Club’s outdoor patio, where visitors dine along the picturesque Hudson River. In the kitchen, executive chef Michael Dobias tailors his lunch and dinner menus to the season’s fresh produce, adding Italian flair to dishes ranging from almond-crusted tilapia to wild mushroom gnocchi. An Italian-built wood-fired oven cooks pizzas in three minutes or less at temperatures over 800 degrees, creating lightly-charred pies topped with house-made tomato sauce, thin slices of prosciutto, and mozzarella.
Guests can also admire the river views from the indoor dining room, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer river views. During the weekend, you could catch a musical performance over from local DJs, bands, or champagne flutes filled to varying heights.
Inside Las Margaritas, eye-catching Mexican folk art and a bar with deep-blue tiles surround patrons digging into sizzling fajitas and spicy enchiladas. In the kitchen, chefs whip up such south-of-the-border specialties as ceviches, pollo mole poblano, and steak monterrey. Bartenders complement the complex, sometimes spicy flavors of these feasts with tangy margaritas, sweet sangria, and beer.
Las Margaritas also encompasses an expansive patio, where guests can take in views of the Hudson while dining in the sunlight or taking shelter beneath umbrellas that block out bright rays and falling satellites.
In the kitchen at Caesar's Grill Restaurant, fresh veal chops, filet mignon, salmon, and chicken breast alike transform into Italian classics. The culinary team can lightly bread the veal, for example, before topping it with tomato and fresh mozzarella, or crown custom-grilled filet mignon with blue cheese and onions. For chicken francese, they sauté egg-dipped chicken breast in lemon and white wine sauce. A simple brown brandy sauce, meanwhile, adds zest to their salmon, a tastier dish than the original Italian seafood, fish-shaped pizza.
Peter Xavier Kelly has been nominated for a James Beard Award, done barbecue battle with Bobby Flay, and hosted Anthony Bourdain when he suddenly found himself without reservations. He's also completely self-taught. Instead of following a traditional culinary path, the seasoned chef began working in the restaurant industry when he was 14. But while Kelly held positions from the back of the kitchen to the front of the house, his passion was always for food. Today, he owns several noted establishments throughout the Hudson Valley, where he shares his own uniquely delicious take on contemporary American cuisine.
At Kelly's Restaurant X, the chef dishes up plates lauded by Zagat as "extraordinary," "magical," and even "transcendent." Allusions to sorcery are fitting, given the kitchen's near-alchemical blending of New- and Old-World flavors. Elegant mainstays such as duck breast and lamb ossobuco are given flavorful new life with additions of sun-dried cherries and sides of mascarpone polenta, while even humble macaroni and cheese receives a Roquefort makeover. But the artistry doesn't stop at the plate—Fodor's praises Restaurant X's "picturesque ponds and gardens" as well. An airy, rustic design featuring skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows connects these elements of nature with the dining room, and the warm atmosphere extends to the Bully Boy Bar, where cocktails and dinner are served fireside.
Roger and Dana founded Just Buns to share myriad sweet and savory variations on the family recipe for delicious baked goods. The freshly baked pastries plump their dough with Cabot butter, and sweet varieties then adjourn to don sprinkles of cinnamon and brown sugar like a sugar-plum fairy at prom. Other flavors embrace fillings that range from raspberry to roasted garlic. Monthly variations lavish taste buds with Callebaut chocolate, pistachio, or banana, allowing customers to experience a wide range of flavors without staring at a baker through a kaleidoscope. Patrons may select a combination of pesto, apricot, and coconut buns to bring home, or stay true to a single filling with 12 cheese-stuffed pastries.
In the kitchen at Gaetano's Grill, cooks slide well-seasoned pizzas out of a brick oven and put the finishing touches on burgers made with prime sirloin, putting together feasts of Italian and American favorites. Like a ball gown made out of a sleeping bag, the surroundings are simultaneously fancy and comfortable: the Uptown Lounge rings with cheers and the sounds of karaoke and football shown on HDTV, and the sun-filled patio is filled with the scents of prosciutto-stuffed pollo novella and savory New York Strip steak. Guests sip frosty draft beers as they dig their forks into hearty baked ziti and penne vodka or chow down on Bronx-style pizzas topped with fresh garlic, pepperoni, and meatballs.
At Memphis Mae's BBQ Bistro, owners Andreas Nowara and Jeff Matros are rewriting the barbecue gospel. They've crossed out a number of popular myths—that barbecue joints should be shrouded in smoke, that barbecue puritans only cook in the style of a single region, and that those who divulge secret recipes should be cooked themselves—in favor of a more chic and diverse sauce hot spot. Their dining room emulates a crisp bistro, and their menu traverses several Southern states, listing Texas beef brisket alongside Carolina pulled pork and Memphis ribs. They don't limit themselves solely to barbecue staples, either. Comfort foods such as Mississippi catfish and chicken-fried steak appease patrons who might not want to get their hands dirty, and vegetarian options include smoked portobello mushrooms and "pasties" filled with sautéed vegetables.
Their eclectic approach has hardly canceled out down-home prep, however. The kitchen's wood smokers infuse meats with flavor 24 hours a day, passing on zesty notes from pecan and hickory logs. The beer is likewise carefully brewed, arriving from Dogfish Head, Duvel, and other craft companies. In maintaining this delicate balance between strict tradition and inclusivity, Memphis Mae's BBQ Bistro has cemented a savory reputation. The restaurant has catered the New York Yankees' opening-day celebration and was later featured in the New York Times which praised its brunch and catalog of sides, which contains drunken yams, peach applesauce, and none of "the usual throwaways or fillers that most barbecue joints offer."