Best New Restaurants 2016

Dish Bistro and Wine Bar, Mahopac

Explore exotic flavors at this Mahopac bistro


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The vegan chocolate coconut cake is a big favorite with all diners at Mahopac’s Dish

Photographs by Jennifer May

Vegans can’t decide between the Japanese wild mushroom bowl and the curried red lentil soup with roasted garlic coconut cream. Vegetarians pounce on Gorgonzola-and-fig-jam tortes with delicate, buttery crusts, and then move on to a lemony kale salad with Iberico cheese.

And the carnivores? They order all of the above — plus choices like house-made lamb-and-pistachio sausage, and the seared beef fillet crostini with caramelized onion (entrées top out at around $30).

At Dish, the Mahopac bistro, equal play is given to all food preferences — though everyone certainly will agree that the vegan chocolate coconut cake is totally worth the calories — which is why Chef/Owner Peter Milano can never make enough of it.

“One day, I expect to walk into the dining room and have each group — the vegans, the vegetarians, the meat eaters — sitting on separate sides,” jokes Milano, a world traveler who tends to his patrons, and their food obsessions, with passion. He even maintains a mailing list exclusively for vegans, who get a shout-out about that coveted chocolate cake before everyone else. Which probably isn’t fair.

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The full-service bar offers a seasonal wine list as well as craft beer and cocktails

The Asian-influenced atmosphere at this cozy 30-seat spot is as enticing as the food, with red lacquered walls and an inviting cedar-topped bar that’s perfect for hanging out with a glass of Pinot Noir and a plate of duck tacos or crispy spiced chickpeas (small bites and starters are $4 to $12). It’s always pretty packed at dinner time, especially on Wednesdays, when wine bottles are half priced (you can make reservations online). But you could also pop in Thursday through Saturday for lunch. Try a BLT made with Irish Cheddar, smoked bacon, organic greens, and coconut chipotle aïoli. Or a Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Cheddar, Gorgonzola, and arugula on seven-grain bread (sandwiches range from $12 to $18).

As you probably guessed from the dynamic combinations of ingredients, Milano thinks in terms of “levels” of flavor and texture, which can mean a lot of steps are involved in producing a dish. One of his most impressive achievements to date is a Japanese-Korean-style skewered grilled chicken yakitori starter. First the chicken gets a spicy dry rub, then it is slow cooked in duck fat, dropped in the fryer for a crispy finish, and finally dipped in chili-scallion barbecue sauce and grilled. Though the menu changes almost daily, his customers insist that this one’s a keeper.

When he’s not behind the stove in his tiny six-burner kitchen, Milano travels — Japan, Thailand, Austria, France — in search of new ingredients and ideas. And the global influences bubble up everywhere on the menu: Crack through the burnt sugar crust on his crème brûlée and get a surprise taste of sake and lemongrass, of all things. Sicilian cottage pie is his vegan take on shepherd’s pie, with eggplant, spinach, olives, capers, and tomatoes seasoned with a dash of honey and apple cider vinegar “to bring the umami together,” he says, referring to the Japanese term that describes the rich, savory “fifth taste” that adds depth to food.

If you go...

Dish Bistro & Wine Bar
947 South Lake Blvd., Mahopac
845-621-3474; www.dishmahopac.com


Related: Dish Bistro Named “Where to Eat Now”


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