History Reborn in Tuthilltown
By Laurie Willow
From Issue 8: Fall 2010
“It’s good to come back home to retire” Toby Gabriello told me, as I dug my fork into the best crab cakes I’ve ever had. (I love crab cakes, I order them all the time, and these were by far the best.) If this is retirement….
The Gabriello family has been working non-stop for the last four years, and finally, the old mill in the Tuthilltown hamlet has been transformed into a stunning and elegant restaurant: Tuthill House at the Mill Restaurant & Tavern.
Original wood beams, antique stained-glass windows, Venetian-plastered walls, and crystal chandeliers give the space a charming old feel. Rembrandt-style paintings by the mill’s neighbor, Ron Schaefer, graciously line the walls. The original wood paneling was taken down so that the old mill room could be insulated; the wood was reused to build the bar. The existing floors were too thin and patched to fix-up, so new wood floors were milled to look authentic. And one of the best details—the original mill machinery and stones have been restored and added, here and there, throughout: the flour and feed grinding mill is in one corner, the grain shute, that goes from floor to ceiling, is the centerpiece of the dining room. The original store, that we all remember, is now the kitchen.
This is a local family business, in the true sense of the word. Joe Gabriello first came up to Gardiner when he was 10, and met his wife-to-be, Toby, who was attending SUNY New Paltz. Third generation Italian, Joe’s family has been in the restaurant business forever. After a 20-year hiatus in Florida, running two different restaurants, the Gabriellos are back home and their 26-year old daughter, Samantha, is the Chef of their newest venture. A graduate of Apicius, the Culinary Institute of Florence, Italy, Sam took refresher courses at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and grew up working in the restaurants her parents ran. She looks natural and relaxed in her new role.
Sam sources much of the food locally—including from Gardiner growers at the Garidiner Green Market (see article pg. 5), Brookside Farm, and Fourwinds Farm—and the Gabriello’s have plans to plow up the fields out back for veggies and herbs. Mother and daughter described the food as “American with an Italian influence,” and many of the recipes have been handed down through the generations. Well, not the crab cakes; Toby, a New York City native, insisted on those, and the thing about these crab cakes is…crab. No bread filler here; each forkful is full of delicious crab with the light crunch of a crumb coating. They’re served with a red pepper remoulade which is creamy and tangy and beats the heck out of tartar sauce. A carnivorous friend I went with is forever in search of the perfect steak and says she found it here, in the 20-ounce ribeye. It was beautifuly charred on the outside, cooked exactly as she ordered it, and perfectly tender. It came with a large baked potato and a bundle of asparagus “tied” like a sheaf of wheat with a strip of prosciutto. For dessert, the chocolate espresso cake was a real treat.
It took the Gabriellos a full two years to get through the approval process but they persevered, and locals are thrilled that the history of the mill has been so lovingly preserved. Toby told me that George Smith, who ran the mill for as long as I can remember, has been coming by helping with the details. At an opening party, Elza Smith was beaming, with tears in her eyes. The day I was there, Ludwig Brandt’s granddaughter (who owned and operated the mill before the Smiths) was taking a tour, and Carleton Mabee, Gardiner’s Town historian, was enjoying the vittles and atmosphere himself.
Go check it out ….www.tuthillhouse.com. 845-255-4151.