Restaurant Review: Cucina

Gianni Scappin offers an up-to-date approach to Italian cuisine at Cucina


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shrimp and white bean appetizerThe warm shrimp and white bean appetizer is punched up with tomato, sage, and rosemary

Scappin grew up in a tiny town about an hour and a half from Venice. His parents owned a trattoria, where Scappin learned from his father how passion for cooking translates into fine food. After culinary school in Italy and some on-the-job training around the globe, Scappin came to the U.S. at the age of 24. Successes on this side of the Atlantic included a stint as head chef at Manhattan’s Bice. Now in his rural incarnation and apparently not requiring much rest, he’s an instructor at the Colavita Center at the Culinary Institute by day, and a welcome addition to Woodstock’s dining scene by night. (By the way, Scappin’s favorite dish, pizzoccheri — made with buckwheat noodles, boiled cabbage and potatoes — isn’t offered at Cucina because he thinks few will be tempted. Tempted, I made it at home. Read about it on my blog, the Accidental Foodie, here.)

Here’s our one quibble: Twice, as we were enthusiastically tucking in, our efficient server asked if we were “still enjoying that.” Her tone was bright but suggested, “Will you be enjoying that much longer? Or can we promise your table to one of those couples waiting in the bar?” Minutes after the second query, a busgirl bopped over to see if we wanted our food wrapped to go. I believe that was a mistake (she seemed flustered), but we felt a little rushed. Perhaps it was our fault for going at the uncool hour of 7 p.m. on a weekend night. I suspect things are more leisurely later, or during the week.

Overall, the place has a lively, fun atmosphere and the food is remarkably good. Prices are fair given the high deliciousness quotient, although — at $10 and $12 — wines by the glass can ratchet up the bill. This fall, though, you can go for the special three-course prix fixe for $29. Now there’s a deal.

Cucina Restaurant
109 Mill Hill Rd., Woodstock. 845-679-9800. Open daily for dinner and brunch on weekends. Appetizers and salads range from $9-$13; pizzas $13-$15; entrées and pastas $17-$32

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