Opening of a Basque tapas bar and restaurant in Tarrytown

June 18, 2022

By Shana Liebman–

Rivertown foodies adore Tarrytown’s new Basque tapas. The second incarnation of Piermont’s beloved Spanish bar and restaurant opened in April and serves Northern Spanish cuisine with a modern twist.

Tapas are freshly prepared and substantial – with old standards like chorizo ​​and empanadas braised in red wine, as well as more inventive dishes like lightly fried artichoke wedges served with a creamy aioli. The tapas menu also includes standouts like langoustine (shrimps with head), tenderloin tips (spicy tenderloin tips), a la plancha pulp (fried octopus) and a slice of surprisingly good fried Manchego cheese, drizzled with honey and balsamic.

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Chef and owner Benny Castro knows his Spanish cuisine. His father was the former owner of Chelsea’s famous restaurant, El Quixote, and Castro grew up washing dishes (sometimes in torn bin bags when his mother insisted he stay dry) and doing other little things. jobs for the restaurant, interspersed with trips to the comic book store next door.

He spent his summers with his grandparents in Spain, immersed in the local cuisine. “Every region, every zone, every area, every city tries to outdo each other in their dishes – so you never have a bad meal.”

Unsurprisingly, Castro ended up with his own career in the Spanish restaurant business. He was a partner/owner of Meson Sevilla and Sangria 46 (NYC) in Manhattan before opening Basque Tapas in Piermont in 2018. (Basque Tapas was one of only two restaurants in New York State to receive a certificate of authentic Spanish cuisine at the 2022 Fine Dining Show.)

A few years ago, Castro started thinking about opening a second Basque tapas. “We get a lot of people from Westchester who come to Piermont. And for years they said to us, ‘Why don’t you open here in Westchester?’ So when the opportunity presented itself and we found the spot, that’s when I took it.

“It’s been difficult adjusting to a new location,” Castro admitted, noting that while the menus are the same, the Tarrytown location is bigger and, according to Castro, a bit more modern. In fact, the wonderfully funky art on the walls is from Castro’s own collection. “I love art,” he said. “I think it livens up the place a bit. Gives a bit of spirit, you know?

Another difference between the two restaurants is that the Tarrytown crowd tends to order tapas more than main courses, and they also drink more wine and less alcohol than Piermont diners.

“We’re still studying the crowd and the atmosphere, so I think over time I’ll tweak a few things there,” Castro said. “I can make it more of a tapas place, and a little less of an appetizer side. I will still definitely keep the paellas because they are still the classics.

Indeed, Castro’s paella, which comes in three versions (veggie, meat and seafood), is spectacular. “The paellas we make are very different from old Spanish restaurants,” he explained. “At the time, many Spanish restaurants used to cook their rice, so it was a fluffier rice.” There were two reasons for this, Castro said. “The first was that they couldn’t bring Spanish products into the country. Second, they wanted to turn and burn and move tables as fast as possible.

At Basque Tapas, Castro prepares a paella from A to Z in 30 to 40 minutes. “You have different textures in the rice. You have a little caramelization. You have a bit of crunch. You have a bit of a chew. It’s an interesting combination,” he said. “A lot of people were brainwashed with the old way and it wasn’t really the right way to do it. I hate to insult the past, but it wasn’t really quality-based.

Basque Tapa’s menu also includes dishes like Castro’s favorite garlic roast chicken, sautéed skirt steak and grilled salmon with shrimp. Meats are ethically raised – Angus beef, domestic lamb and wild-caught seafood. Additionally, many items like Serrano and Iberian hams, chorizo ​​and octopus are imported from Spain. The drink menu includes mostly Spanish wine and several varieties of sangria.

The best feature of the new Basque tapas, however, might just be the positive energy flowing through the dining room. On a recent Saturday night, the Main Street spot’s 75 seats were packed with cheering diners. “They were very welcoming,” Castro said. “Everyone came in and thanked us for being here.”

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Opening of a Basque tapas bar and restaurant in Tarrytown


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