When restaurateur and chef Gino Uli walked into the defunct Il Sorriso, he immediately knew he wanted to open his next place: “I had a feeling of what it could be. This is a steakhouse.”
“We loved the spot because of the prior restaurant’s reputation,” adds Uli’s wife, Floria. Together, the Ardsley couple own Divino Cucina Italiana in Hastings-on-Hudson, which opened December 2018. “People remember the positive dining experience… and the Hudson River views.”
The challenge for Gino was that he’d never owned a steakhouse before.
Thus, he hired consultants, including a friend who was a 30-year manager at Sparks Steak House and another who was a chef at Palm Restaurant from 1975 until recently. The resultant meat program at the Ulis’ Hudson Prime Steakhouse, which debuted in early July, includes an in-house butcher, Prime cuts from Hunt’s Point Market, dry-aged in-house, and three 800°F infrared broilers. “Thirty seconds on each side, you get medium-rare,” says Gino. Other menu highlights include ocean-fresh fish from Cosmos Seafood in the Bronx and such house-made desserts as creme brûlée, apple strudel, and carrot cake. The international wine list is dominated by big-name Cabernets and French bottles.
“We are of Albanian heritage,” says Floria. “When someone visits an Albanian household, everyone stands up and the guests sit. Albanian mothers at home give better service than five-star restaurants. Hospitality is in our blood.”
Gino, who grew up on Arthur Avenue, first worked in the industry at age 16, washing dishes at Brothers Pizza in the Bronx, and then at his uncle’s restaurant, Lisa Marie’s in White Plains. He eventually went on to own six locations of Bella Vita Pizza in Orlando, from 2003 to 2011, before returning to New York to cook at Carastina in Manhattan and at Villa D’Aqua in Bellmore. He credits his father for his passion for food and cooking.
“My father was the chef in my house, growing up. Stuffed peppers, chicken livers, pork stew with leeks… most anything he made came out delicious.” There are 112 seats at Hudson Prime, plus another 50 on a patio overlooking the river. On Saturday mornings, the restaurant becomes a meat market, where whole loins are brought out and customers can choose their cuts. “You’ll come away with something to show off at your barbecue,” quips Gino.
Hudson Prime Steakhouse
5 N Buckhout St, Irvington 914.231.6800