15 Collegeview Ave.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Open 7 days ~ Lunch & Dinner
It's only taken twenty years, but the Banta's finally have a new restaurant on Collegeview in Arlington. The space that had housed Angelisa's (I know, I'm dating myself) has been completely renovated and expanded. The Banta's partnered with Gianni Scappin, who brought you Market St., in Rhinebeck, and Cucina in Woodstock. The new space is expansive, with off street parking and outdoor seating overlooking the Vassar campus across the street.
The contemporary gastropub menu is complemented nicely by the new modern dining space, which reminds me very much of their Market St., restaurant in Rhinebeck. (This is a good thing because we really enjoy the Rhinebeck eatery.) The young, smart looking wait staff - all dressed in hipster plaid flannel shirts - look like a slice of Brooklyn, but I want to talk to them in August when it's 90 and the Powerhouse crowd is running them all ragged.
Our favorite menu feature is the small plate offerings, ranging in price from $7 to $12, in addition to a salumi platter of cured meats and pecorino ($13 / $22). We tried a plate of calamari ($12), plated with two dipping sauces - a spicy arrabbiata, and a aioli spiked with specks of pickled cornichon - a very nice combo. An offering of fresh ricotta brought a delicious puddle of creamed ricotta ($9), laced with herbed olive oil and pistachio, and slices of grilled baguette for schmearing. Delicious. My favorite was a delicate presentation of spring peas and sprouts perched on a minty yogurt sauce with grilled bread. ($8).
There are a half dozen nice salads to choose from, which is five more that we can find in most restaurants in Poughkeepsie. They range from a classic beet, goat cheese and arugula ($11) to a not too classic caesar, dressed up with bacon and tomatoes and billed as a BLT ($9). Gianni's (very) thin crust pizzas - pizzettas - are unburdened by any leavening whatsoever, and could pass for grilled matzah if not for the various well made toppings of parma & prosciutto ($16), or caramelized onions and anchovies ($14), or sausages and jalapenos ($15), or just a classic margherita ($13).
There were seven different pasta offerings (and a risotto) on the two nights that we visited, priced from $14 to $17. I tried one of my favorites - tonnarelli cacio e pepe ($14), thick strands of spaghetti, tossed with pecorino and course ground pepper. This is a simple rustic classic that I absolutely love. The bracing saltiness of the sheep's milk cheese is the perfect match for the bite of coarse pepper and thick heavy strands of pasta. The kitchen did a nice job with it here.
Main dishes included a free range grilled chicken with organic quinoa ($24), lamb loin chops with grilled artichokes and fingerling potatoes ($27), and a baked salmon with black truffle vinaigrette ($24). (Since it was their first week of operation I decided to wait until they had their sea legs before grilling them as to the provenance of the salmon. I'll assume it is a proper wild caught Alaska salmon for now.) Besides - who would waste truffles on farm raised salmon?
I think the original menu and unique preparations will be a welcome addition to the Poughkeepsie dining scene. Gianni Scapin's existing fans will appreciate the new venue, and I suspect the rest will be pleasantly surprised.
If you do stop in please let our other readers know about your visit in the comments section.