Led by an experienced Westchester chef, the Croton-on-Hudson restaurant makes a name for itself with house-smoked meats and decadent desserts.
It is just a matter of time before talented chefs break out to run their own kitchens. Enzo DeRaco is such an individual, a chef with the sort of homegrown pedigree that even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve likely had a meal prepared by him. DeRaco developed and honed his menu-creation skills and overall cooking experience at 914 favorites like Gleason’s and Birdsall House in Peekskill and the defunct MTK Tavern live-music venue in Mount Kisco, where his burgers and tacos were a success with audiences and bands traveling through New York.
“I started out working for Peter Kelly at X20 in Yonkers,” says the Mount Kisco-born chef, who graduated from Lakeland High School. “It’s where I interned and learned how to actually cook in a restaurant.”
Opening your first restaurant is certainly a challenge, but when it’s during a pandemic, the difficulty level is intensified.
“I had to juggle between keeping safe and following the state guidelines while reaching out to new customers to keep the business running,” he explains. “New restaurants would normally rely on foot traffic and word of mouth for a good chunk of the customer base, but we’ve had to pivot to innovative marketing ideas, such as virtual tours and social media, to let people know who we are and why they should come check us out.”
The “why” of the 69-seat 140 Grand comes in the form of elevated American cuisine with a foundation based on house-smoked meats, decadent in-house desserts, and innovative cocktails. House-cured pork belly bao buns, a burrata plate with house-pickled veggies and house-made fig jam; smoked brisket sandwich with jalapeño jam, smoked Gouda and Gruyère, and pickled fennel; and five burgers (including one topped with peanut butter?!) are among the offerings. Custom sauces and dressings to pair with sandwiches and salads are also done in-house and always evolving.
The beverage program has fresh cocktails to sample, like the Strawberry Basil Smash and Bee’s Knee’s, with gin, honey, lemon, and lavender, as well as a rotating list of craft beers on draft and in cans.
“We are connecting with local craft breweries, such as Peekskill Brewery and Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.,” says DeRaco. “We love the New York craft-beer scene and want to highlight local breweries for our customers to try, especially since they cannot always go visit the breweries themselves during COVID.”
The pandemic is a constant for this newbie restaurateur as he fine-tunes the 140 Grand concept to a dining public that is itself adjusting to the times: DeRaco is seeing more and more people who want to get out of the house, as opposed to early in the lockdown, when picking up food was popular.
Eat-in or takeout, DeRaco is prepared. “We are looking forward to getting to know everybody and the chance to introduce ourselves and our creative take on cuisine.”
140 Grand St, Croton-on-Hudson