Mario Batali, the celebrity chef, owns Tarry
Lodge, a casual but sophisticated restaurant
with a marble bar, dark wood floors and white
tablecloths in suburban Westchester County.
But there are two other chefs in the kitchen,
and neither wears orange clogs like Batali.
These two are the reason the thin-crust, wood-fired-oven pizzas have earned their place among
the best in the country.
The first is chef-owner Andy Nusser, who
was the sous chef when Batali opened his flagship restaurant, Babbo, in Manhattan. Nusser, also the owner
of a tapas restaurant, Casa Mono, developed the menu at Tarry
Lodge, which includes such mouthwatering dishes as orec-chiette with spicy sausage and broccoli rabe and garganelli
with earthy mushrooms. He also serves an absolutely perfect
tomato gazpacho with lump crabmeat.
The second is pizzaiolo (that’s pizza-maker
in Italian) Mario Giuseppe LaPosta, from Harrison, N. Y., who spent five months in Italy working at La Caletta Fantasie Napoletana in Rome
and Pietra di Luna in Piedmont.
And though Nusser oversaw the installation
of the $12,000 Mugnaini pizza oven and made
the decision to burn oak at 650 degrees, together
Nusser and LaPosta developed the pizza dough
recipe. They make an incredible team.
The pizzas are crisp with a light dough
that’s charred on the bottom (but not too much) and dotted
with puffed-up pockets of air. It’s delicious. And that’s after
much practice, says Nusser.
Before Tarry Lodge was even open, LaPosta was cooking in
Italy. Ready to come home, he Googled “wood-fired oven pizza
Westchester.” They e-mailed and texted, and Nusser hired him.