A walk down Wolfs Lane, Pelham’s main street, reveals there’s not too much besides Italian in its dining scene.
“Pelham has great schools, and it’s a great town,” says village resident Brenan Hefner, “but so many in the community wished we had a more robust dining and bar scene.”
Due to Hefner, along with fellow residents Clayton Bushong, John Gallagher, and a host of minority partners, Pelham’s dining choices expanded in October 2016 with the opening of the 65-seat, Mexican-themed cocktail bar and eatery Cantina Lobos.
While none of the partners have any professional restaurant experience (though cooking at home is a passion of Hefner’s), they did enlist veteran chef Dennis Cruz to oversee the culinary side of the business. Cruz has cooked in the kitchens of Gotham Bar & Grill and The Four Seasons in Manhattan and is an alumnus of the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) .
“Before we met Dennis, our original idea was to be a simple taqueria,” explains Hefner. “But he elevated our concept with larger plates and some Asian influences. We have octopus on the menu and rib-eye pinchos. I didn’t know what pinchos were before.”
Cruz uses locally sourced, sustainable ingredients, such as vegetables and fruit from Pine Hill Farm in Chester, non-GMO pork and Angus beef from John Boy’s Farm in Bedford, and fresh tortillas for house-made chips via Tortilleria La Milpa de Rosa in Yonkers.
The short menu has six starters (Spanish octopus with cannellini beans is outstanding), six tacos (the Colombian chorizo was a solid choice), several salads, and a few plated entrées (including a locally sourced, 12-oz rib-eye steak asado).
Behind the bar there’s robust tequila offerings, including flights, plus a small yet well-curated beer-and-wine list.
New Rochelle’s Ottavio’s Studio, a family-owned business run by Pelham resident John DeVivo, oversaw the interior finishes, which include beautiful vintage lumber reclaimed from an old tenement on Rivington Street, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Pelham resident and artist Mike Gracie of GRACIE, Inc., a 117-year-old Manhattan company, created hand-painted tabletops, inspired by traditional Mexican sugar skulls for the restaurant booths.
“The community needed a place with a Manhattan vibe,” says Hefner. “We think we’ve accomplished that.”
217 Wolfs Ln, Pelham