8 Restaurants That Will Make You Feel Like You’re in Italy

By Bridget Shirvell, originally appeared on Edible Manhattan 

A taste of the Old Country: Italian dining in Ulster County

While a trip across the Atlantic might be out of reach this month, you can do the next best thing: dine your way through Ulster County. This scenic upstate area is home to a robust Italian-American community and numerous authentic old-world dining options, from cozy trattorias serving traditional family-style recipes to breezy bistros plating innovative spins on the classics. Here’s where to pretend you’re in Italy without leaving the state.

Dig into a plate of delicate, freshly made pappardelle pasta at this gem of a place in Ellenville. The old-school speakeasy is known for its pastas, steaks and Friday jazz nights. 151 Canal St., Ellenville; 845.647.9269. 

Save room for dessert. A Tavola Trattoria, which means “to beckon friends to the table” in Italian, has an affogato made with salted caramel gelato that will haunt your dreams long after you’re back in New York City. 46 Main St., New Paltz; 845.255.1426. 

There’s nothing better than a day spent hiking the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail followed by pizza. Family-owned Lombardi’s Restaurant dishes out make-your-own and specialty pizzas that will have you wishing every night was pizza night. Remember to stop by an ATM on your way, it’s cash only. 2808 Benton Cors, Gardiner; 845.255.9779. 

Picture yourself sipping wine surrounded by gardens and vines. Dream life? Nah, just a normal weekend afternoon at Magnanini Winery Restaurant & Distillery. Order an antipasti to pair with their wines, craft beer or Grappa Cocktail, or make a reservation for their one-hour wine tasting followed by a prix-fixe six-course Italian family-style dinner. 172 Strawridge Rd, Wallkill; 845.895.2767. 

Whether you’re looking for a cozy spot to bring your sweetie or a place to catch up with your bestie, Christina’s is for you. Snag a table on the back patio and split one of their homemade pasta dishes. The portion sizes are huge. 812 Ulster Ave, Kingston; 845.339.7400.

Tucked against the Catskill Forest Preserve, tiny Phoenicia is often overlooked for its more bustling neighbors, but the charming hamlet, home to quaint shops and plenty of outdoor activities, is worth a visit, especially if you’ve been missing nature. Start your day with breakfast at Brio’s where the staff will treat you like family, the portions are large, and the menu offers dishes like the Italian Breakfast with Asiago Bread (eggs, housemade Italian sausage, peppers, spinach and portabella), along with  classic staples, like veggie omelets and cinnamon bread French toast. 68 Main St, Phoenicia; 845.688.5370.

Ask someone in Saugerties where you should eat dinner and chances are pretty good they’ll direct you to Annarella. This local favorite boasts an extensive wine list, craft cocktails and a lovely outdoor patio. Known for their bistecca con rughetta (grilled sirloin with potatoes and spinach), they also feature traditional pasta dishes and fish, chicken and vegetarian options such as salmone alla senape and gnocchi al Gorgonzola. 276 Malden Turnpike, Saugerties; 845.247.7289.

Travel to Tuscany by way of Woodstock. Located in a lovingly restored farmhouse, Cucina’s seasonal menu includes pizzas, pastas, salads and more staples. Settle in on the wraparound porch or by the fire—you’ll find it hard to leave. 109 Mill Hill Rd, Woodstock; 845.679.9800.

Sample the best of Ulster County’s Italian dining scene at the 2019 Italian Festival on the Kingston Waterfront, Sunday, October 13, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.


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