The rosemary-scented Evergreen Swizzle
It could be said restaurateur Dave Starkey likes variety.
His ERL Hospitality consists of a Mexican restaurant (Tomatillo in Dobbs Ferry), a New American (Sweet Grass Grill in Tarrytown), and his latest, the modern Italian 40-seat eatery Red Zebra in Sleepy Hollow that opened at the end of November in the space that formerly housed Finalmente Trattoria. (Starkey is also planning to open Grass Roots Kitchen in Tarrytown this spring).
Despite each restaurant focusing on a different cuisine, commonalities abound according to Starkey: “They are all casual, accessible price-wise, and source ingredients locally.”
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“A good portion of our customers are fans of my other restaurants,” says the Sleepy Hollow resident. “They come not necessarily because they feel like Italian but because they know it will be locavorian-based, with plenty of fresh ingredients, plus numerous vegan and vegetarian options.”
A list of close to 20 farm partners is displayed prominently on the menu, including produce from Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills and McEnroe Organic Farm in Millerton, dairy from Chasehold Farm in Pine Plains, sustainably raised shrimp from Eco Shrimp Garden in Newburgh, and charcuterie via Campbell Meats in Dobbs Ferry.
Carrying out Red Zebra’s menu is Pleasantville resident Beau Widener, a CIA alumnus whose previous positions include executive chef at farm-to-table Mediterranean restaurant Aurelia in Millbrook.
“Though our food concept is primarily Italian, I like to think we use Italian as a foundation, then introduce what I refer to as a regional cuisine,” explains Widener. “Meaning, the cuisine is heavily influenced by what is available seasonally in the region.”
Expect dishes such as roasted fennel hummus with crispy chickpeas; local Burrata with sliced beets; a grilled pizza topped with figs, Gorgonzola, pine nuts, and prosciutto; and a superb gnocchi with roasted root veggies, forest mushrooms, and crispy kale. Pastas, breads, desserts, and sauces and stocks are all made in-house.
Slices of house-made grilled bread come for dipping with the roasted fennel hummus
The beverage program is unique, with Italian craft beers, small-batch wines, and original cocktails intended to inspire people to stretch out their taste buds (try the rosemary-scented Evergreen Swizzle with Warwick Gin, Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur, and Green Chartreuse). “We have unusual vineyards and varietals people might not know,” says Neil Benson, Starkey’s partner at Red Zebra, who heads up the bar offerings. “We want wines with a taste of a place.” Most bottles are between $30–$55.
And about the restaurant’s name? A Red Zebra is a fire-engine red, tartly flavored heirloom tomato with yellow stripes, which, true to the restaurant’s mission statement of seasonality and freshness, will be found only on the summer menu when in season.
31 Beekman Ave