Restaurant Review in Dutchess County: Il Barilotto, Fishkill, NY
Traditional Italian cuisine gets a modern-day twist at Fishkill’s Il Barilotto
Persico Arrosto — panko-crusted ocean perch with corn and baby arugula — is just one of the mouth-watering options from Il Barilotto’s unique menu
Photographs by Jennifer May
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Il Barilotto is like an old friend with some colorful eccentricities: thoroughly reliable, but rarely boring. The Fishkill restaurant is now in its 11th year, but manages to shake things up in the crowded field of Italian cuisine with a weekly rotation of ample specials, a vast and changing wine list, and a few subtle twists on standard dishes.
“Il Barilotto is kind of a modern-day approach to Italian food,” says General Manager Scott Rosenberg, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has a knack for straight-talk about food and wine. “It’s not your mom-and-pop, red-sauce kind of joint. I don’t want to say it’s a fusion approach because that’s not what Il Barilotto is meant to be. It’s deeply rooted in Italy, but it definitely stretches its hands into France and Spain and other places along the Mediterranean. It creates a cuisine that’s unique only to Il Barilotto.”
Take, for example, the watermelon salad, a recent special. Says Rosenberg: “It’s summery, but watermelon isn’t exactly a staple Italian ingredient. The other ingredients surround it — great extra virgin olive oil and baby arugula, things like that — and create a theme that fits very well within the confines of an Italian restaurant, but with a more modern-day approach.” Another such twist takes limoncillo, usually served as an after-dinner liqueur, and whips it into a delicate creamy sauce to accompany miniature penne pasta, shrimp, and green peas.
Dark Honduran mahogony tables give a contemporary feel to Il Barilotto’s dining room
Housed in a 19th-century carriage house, the restaurant is upscale enough to eschew the checkerboard tablecloth look of family-fare, Italian-American restaurants. In fact, there aren’t any tablecloths at all on the dark, Honduran mahogany tables, which blend well with the exposed red brick of an interior wall and the wrought-iron sconces. Framed vintage bistro posters hanging throughout create an oldworld feel. This is the kind of friend who dresses well enough that no one quite notices how much time she’s put into it.
The food and décor reflect the sensibilities of owner Eduardo Lauria, who was raised in the Naples area and began working in the culinary field as a teenager at the nearby tourist-filled island, Ischia. After moving to the Hudson Valley area, he opened a string of pizzerias before opening Aroma Osteria in Wappingers Falls in 1997. Its success spawned Il Barilotto in 2001, which doesn’t cleave to Italian tradition as much as Aroma, creating a dining experience you’d expect to find in the city. Indeed, executive chef Wayne Homsi has worked in some of New York City’s finest restaurants.
My dining companion and I arrived about 7:30 on a Friday night, and the place was hopping. Reservations are available only for parties of five or more, so we were prepared to have a cocktail at the crowded mahogany bar while awaiting a table. For both of us it had been one of those hectic days when lunch had been skipped and more had gone wrong than right. So we experienced peckish euphoria when the maître d’ whisked us to a table for two within a minute of arriving.
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