First Taste: Gleason’s Brings Great Pizza to Peekskill, Oktoberfest at Harper’s with All-You-Can-Drink Captain Lawrence Beer and, to Recover, Whole Corn Chaat at Little Spice Bazaar

First Taste: Gleason’s Brings Great Pizza (Sort of) to Peekskill

One of many vintage movie posters that set the style at Gleason’s

In spring, when I was compiling my exhaustive Westchester Magazine pizza cover, I was nagged by a serious geographical problem. While we in Southern Westchester are tripping over great pizzerias, above I-287, they’re thin on the ground. In desperation, I called Tim Reinke at Birdsall House, hoping that this Peekskill resident could enlighten me with some small, cultish favorites. He had to admit there wasn’t much great pizza in Peekskill, which is why I take full responsibility for his debut (with partner John Sharp, I admit, 10 months later), of Gleason’s, Peekskill’s bright new locavorian flatbreadateria. (And I just made up that word, too!)

Gleason’s has all the hallmarks of the Birdsall House—starting with Peekskill’s ineffable cool. The Gleason’s experience might begin with window shopping at Beale Street Barber Shop next door. Sure, this stylish cut joint has an enviable collection of Elvis heads, but the whole damn town bears an irrepressible chic born of the confluence of poverty and vintage charm. At the front of Gleason’s is a cheery bar where solo diners will feel welcome. Look for hearty greetings and friendly barflies (looks are deceiving; this isn’t Brooklyn. In Peekskill, people are actually glad to meet you).

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Beyond the bar, the room opens to a bright dining room that showcases a decoupaged wall of movie posters, many featuring the work of Peekskill’s most famous son, Honeymooner Jackie Gleason. Sure, you’ll see The Hustler (in both French and American editions!), but also Bullitt (1968) and The Hard Ride (1971), a racy girl biker flick with the tagline, “Some machines are more than most men can handle.” Yes, folks – I was in love.

Drinks help, as they often do, so I snuggled up to a crisp Sinatra (Jack Daniels, sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters), described as “classic, masculine, and knows how to dance.” Well, that’s just me all over. Gleason’s offers eight taps of craft beer with about 18 more in bottles and cans, plus a tight little wine list—so, happily, Gleason’s is no Kiwanis Club for beer geeks. Two weeks into its opening, its menu is still pretty brief, comprising a few starting soups, a couple of special apps, and those previously mentioned flatbread pizzas. I started with a sophisticated smoked watermelon gazpacho, which was more silken, smoky vegetable juice than cellulose slushie. It was deliciously balanced between sugar, salt, and acid – and its heavy smoke hinted of fall. My husband’s green apple and butternut squash was as about thick as the gazpacho was thin, but warming and pleasantly spiced. What the hell—we ordered a Rita Hayworth, a mouthwatering twist on the margarita that was frisky with chili juice.

There was a bit of confusion with our order. (Apparently, the special eggplant parmigiana was offered in a starter portion—it would have been helpful to have been warned of this when I ordered it as a main.) This woefully small heap’s fresh tomatoey marinara sauce spoke of field rather than can, even though its basil chiffonade had started to blacken. Still hungry, I snagged a few slices of my husband’s flatbread, heavily studded with deliciously spiced Birdsall House sausage and rapini. It was funky, it was lavishly porky – and the broccoli rabe offered a refreshing zing. Folks, Gleason’s unpizza/flatbread is no Boboli; it’s truly delicious. It’s yeasty, and crackly from where bottom had taken up some of that Hemlock Hill pork fat—frankly, I was sad that I hadn’t ordered my own. Note to Self: Skip the damned undersized eggplant parm for porky flatbread pizzas, idiot.

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But here’s where we get into What’s Not to Love territory. The starters, all rich and lovingly crafted from locally raised ingredients, will set you back about $7 or $8, and those pizzas (ditto lovingly crafted, ditto locally raised ingredients), go for between $10 and $14. Every single one of those craft beers (bottle/cans/draughts) is priced between $4 and $6. I mean, that’s a $4 beer, folks! And the cocktails are priced at about $8 to $10. Plus, Gleason’s is bright and child-friendly—there are all those flatbreads, but kids will also like the basic pastas that we didn’t get to on this visit. Gleason’s is cheap! It’s cheerful! Head on over today.



Taste of Slovenia to Benefit Autism Speaks at The Cookery

September 24, 7:30 – 10:30 pm

$100 per person (includes wine, music, dancing, and dinner)

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Look for The Cookery crew to join Slovenian wine importer Emil Gaspari for an evening of delicious food and flowing Slovenian wine. The Cookery will donate 30 percent of all proceeds to Autism Speaks, a leading autism science and advocacy program. 

October Is Coming (So Get Your Dirndl Back from the Cleaners!)

Oh yes, folks: The ninth month in the calendar means that Oktoberfest is coming. Look for beer tankers, day drinking, and ample bosoms squashed northward by corsets. Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, here’s where to get your Oktoberfest on.

Harper’s Octoberfest with Captain Lawrence Brewing Company

October 6, 1 – 5pm

$55 per person (includes all-you-can-drink draughts, small plates, and buffet)

From the site: “Sure, Oktoberfest is the biggest festival in the world. Yes, Oktoberfest lasts 16 days and is attended by 5 million people, drinking 7 million liters of beer and dining on everything from Schweinebraten to Steckerlfsch. But so what? You’re American. And in America, you can fit it all into one awesome afternoon at Harper’s. Because at Harper’s, seasonal Captain Lawrence brews will flow like liquid gold, and our delicious buffet winks at you like Prince Ludwig winked at Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen back in 1810, when this whole shebang got started.

Yes, you can have it all. You can fit it in. You may not fit into your pants afterward, but we say again: so what?”

Call Harper’s to book, more info here.



Whole Corn Chaat at Little Spice Bazaar

Oh, how I wish I had a Little Spice Bazaar next door. I’d skip all of those shaming Diet Cokes and unsatisfying sandwiches for health-giving, protein-rich salads of pulses, spice, and herbs. Why, I’d wash them down with tea and rich, tangy lassis loaded with fruit. I’d be healthier, happier, and a better me all round! Regrettably, I do not live near Little Spice Bazaar, the delightful Mount Kisco restaurant-cum-Indian-import-shop, so I must satisfy myself with frequent, longish car rides. This week’s LSB passion is for Soneji’s Meditation incense, kale juice, and whole corn chaat—a crunchy, protein-rich snack of kettle corn, bhel, red onion, lime, and spices. It’s so packed with delicious flavors and textures that you’ll never know that it’s healthful. Yum.

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