The banquet hall and “star-lit” lounge at Novella’s New Paltz have set the scene for many a special occasion since opening three years ago on Terwilliger Lane. But the times of our lives tend to be celebrated on weekends, and with the kitchen and all the space Novella’s has available weekdays, why not open a restaurant, too?
This week, The Grille at Novella’s debuted their new dinner menu. The restaurant will serve dinner Monday through Thursday beginning at 4 p.m., with a bar menu offered Friday and Saturday. If there are no events scheduled on the weekend, says manager Anne Marie Keenan, guests will be offered the full dinner menu on those evenings, as well.
The dining room seats up to 40 with guests welcome to eat in the lounge area, as well, which features a gas fireplace, high-top tables and those unique star-shaped lights over the bar.
“We’re leaning toward being a steakhouse,” says Keenan, noting that the feedback in town has been that “New Paltz needs a good steakhouse.” Ten-ounce Angus beef burgers ($12-$14) are decidedly upscale, served on a toasted brioche bun, and the dinner menu features a selection of steaks, from an eight-ounce filet mignon ($23) to a 16-ounce strip steak ($26) or steak frites ($18) served with caramelized onions.
They’re aiming for a feeling of “casual elegance,” Keenan says, “but we don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t come here and sit at the bar and have wings. We want people to feel comfortable.”
Executive Chef James Kane will be familiar to local diners who used to frequent Rock & Rye Tavern. Kane started his culinary career at Le Chambord in Hopewell Junction, working his way up from dishwasher in his teens to sous chef. After eleven years, he switched from French cuisine to Italian at Urban Zuppa in Yonkers, moving on eventually to the Towne Crier Café in Dutchess County and then Rock & Rye in New Paltz.
At The Grille at Novella’s, Kane says, the menu will be “a little bit upscale with some lower-priced fare, as well, to make everybody happy.” He enjoys making a dish his own by giving it a little twist, like his Truffled Mac & Cheese — $8 as an appetizer, $6 as a side dish — made with black truffle oil and artisanal cheeses. His Butternut Squash and Gala Apple Arancini appetizer ($8) consists of lightly breaded rice balls stuffed with the squash and apples, served with a maple crème fraiche.
A kids’ menu will be available soon, says Keenan. With The Grille at Novella’s being located right next door to the Hampton Inn, they plan to offer options that will please the families staying there as well as those driving through New Paltz on the Thruway.
But locals will be catered to, as well, with adults finding a signature drink menu that includes the Blood Orange Margarita ($9), made with DeKuyper blood orange liquor, tequila and lime juice in a sugar-rimmed glass, and the Green Tea ($9), made with Jameson, peach schnapps, sour mix and Sprite. A French Kiss ($12, citron vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice), Espresso Martini ($12, vodka, Kahlua and espresso) and a classic Manhattan and Cosmo are also on the list.
The Grille at Novella’s is owned by Larry Downey and Craig Gioia, the latter a part-owner of McGillicuddy’s, as well as a few places in Dutchess County. The business partners will continue to focus on the special events at Novella’s while developing the business for the restaurant. “Both will complement the other,” Gioia says, noting that Novella’s is the largest catering hall in the area, seating more than 250 in the banquet hall, and that’s not counting the patio capacity.
In terms of people knowing about the new restaurant, “We’re kind of tucked away back here, but that could be an advantage,” he adds. “We don’t have the hustle and bustle [of the village]. We’ll have a nice combination of people here; the locals mixing in with travelers, like what you see when you go on vacation or to New York City. And people-watching is half the fun, right?”
The Grille at Novella’s is located at 2 Terwilliger Lane, New Paltz. More information is available by calling (845) 255-4481 or visit Novellasnp.com or “Novella’s New Paltz” on Facebook.