Page 23 - Valley Table - Spring 2021
P. 23

                                     THE MEAT WAGON
the Valley’s first destinations dedicated to natural wines. Today, just in Kingston, there are several businesses with an emphasis on wines that are produced organically, biodynamically, and/or without mechanical intervention. “It feels like every four or five months in the past years, a really new and wonderful business has opened up,” says Drapkin.
That’s particularly true in Midtown, where 2020 brought big news. In February, the James Beard Foundation announced the semi-finalists for its Best Chef: New York State award. Among the honorees was Albert “Sammy” Bartley, whose tiny Jamaican joint, Top Taste, turns out tender oxtails, fragrant curry goat, crisp fried chicken, jerk pork, and more.
The neighborhood also saw a spate of openings during the pandemic. Fleischer’s alum Stefano Diaz opened The Meat Wagon, a whole-animal butcher shop with a focus on pasture-raised
and grass-fed animals, and eclectic Lunch Nightly blends the craft-butcher concept with
a restaurant, sandwich shop, and natural wine program. In March 2020, Chef Ozlem Oguzcan- Cranston and her husband, a Kingston native, opened Masa Midtown on Broadway, a brick- and-mortar extension of their Mediterranean and Turkish catering company. Since the pandemic began, they have had to pivot from an event space to offering take out. “So many people have expressed their happiness about Turkish food finally being in Kingston. Some are familiar
with the cuisine, and others have never tried
it but are very open to new flavors,” she says. “The most exciting thing about the food scene here is that you really get to know the people behind the businesses and their stories. There’s a real connection between the businesses and the community.”
One new opening, however, seems to have made the biggest impact. In July 2019, the first rooms opened at Hotel Kinsley, NYC restaurateur Taavo Somer’s new hotel, which will ultimately span four Uptown buildings with a planned
42 rooms. The on-site restaurant, with a menu developed in consultation with Zak Pelaccio,
was the year’s most anticipated opening. And,
in January 2020, Somer launched Lola Pizza, featuring another Pelaccio-created menu, serving wood-fired pizza — get the smoked brisket pie with caramelized shallots and taleggio — pastas, and a build-your-own soft serve menu.
“It’s undeniable that Hotel Kinsley and its affiliated bars and restaurants have had a huge effect on the volume of visitors to Uptown, and have created a sense of excitement and demand for upscale food and drink options,” says Rough Draft’s Stromoski.
What’s next? Hopefully, more new business. “It’s encouraging,” says Drapkin. “As a consumer, a fellow business owner, and a resident in the area, it’s an incredibly hopeful message...a reminder that entrepreneurial spirit and drive can’t be contained, even during a pandemic.”
photos by alexander harris (the meat wagon), by christian harder (lola pizza)
april – may 2021 21

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