photograph by Stefan radtk
The four-star rating from Westchester Magazine in 2009 validated The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry as a serious dining spot, despite its lack of fine-dining accouterments, says chef-owner David DiBari. “You no longer needed to be a white-tablecloth restaurant to get four stars. If I delivered bold flavors and hit every note, people gave me recognition.” DiBari feels that he’s been successful because he’s followed his instincts. That said, “People know the way we do things is genuine, and they want to be a part of that,” he explains.
In this casual, pretense-free Italian gastropub (whose motto is “eat serious and have fun”), the muscular, often carnal, food is the star. DiBari buys from local farms and focuses on ingredients that might otherwise have been thrown away, such as beef hearts and duck tongues. Of late, he’s been experimenting more with vegetables, trying to make them meatier, via smoking, roasting, and other techniques.
“Italian cooking is all about taking simple, seasonal ingredients and making them come together harmoniously into a great, soulful dish. We treat ingredients simply and give people a great value. You may get pasta with squid ink and clam pork sausage, but it is still simple, even if it sounds eccentric.” In addition to pastas, come for classics, such as house-made mozzarella, meatballs, crispy osso buco, buttery salted potatoes, and — perhaps a classic in the making — the pig’s head donut, as well as the singular cocktail menu (hemp-oil cocktail anyone?) and an average of eight creative specials per day.
Excerpt from the DECEMBER 2009 review: “The dishes of DiBari’s inspirational landscape, Italy’s dairy- and pork-soaked north, can be overwhelmingly rich if approached with less finesse. DiBari sidesteps these traps with ease. A fluffy, béchamel-based lasagna is leavened with whipped ricotta and a restrained use of house-made mozzarella: the whole is studded with heavenly wild mushrooms, haunted by truffle oil, and given a final crunch with coarse breadcrumbs.”