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Local Flavor: Back To The Future At The Olde Stone Mill

A tasty culinary makeover refuels a chef's passion for cooking.

A relic from a previous century perches primly on the bank of the Bronx River, just a stone’s throw or two away from Scarsdale. It looks like it was plucked from a George Eliot novel depicting a sleepy 19th century pastoral village in the English countryside and plopped down in the middle of Westchester's bustling burbs.

The Olde Stone Mill sprang up in 1805. Erected by European settlers out of fieldstone in the Georgian style, it was originally built to function as a classic, utilitarian cotton mill. The building’s use evolved to meet the needs of new generations and eras, serving at various times as a rubber manufacturing plant, a raincoat production site for World War I soldiers, and even a pharmaceutical factory in the 1950s and 60s.

At the hoary old age of 206, the grande dame is operating as a sprawling restaurant and event space.

“The setting is unbelievable,” Michael Gallo, the Olde Stone Mill’s executive chef told Patch Scarsdale. “It really looks like something from another era.”

He’s right. Between the rambling old (or should we say, olde) stone building, the grand piano, the sets of French doors that lead to a huge patio overlooking the Bronx River, the crisp white linens, the fireplace and the quiet, attentive staff, it’s hard not to fall in love.

But what about the food? That’s why we’re here, right?

The reviews have been as mixed as Beck’s iPod on shuffle.

It’s tough to say how fair the criticism has been; the restaurant was one of the subjects of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” which tends to draw a sometimes unwelcome spotlight on any restaurant’s soft spots.

Even with the olde-fashioned setting firmly in place, the kitchen was ready for some nouveau food, regardless of Ramsay’s verdict.

“The current owner came in about three years ago and completely revamped the menu,” Gallo, who has been with the Olde Stone Mill for about seven years, said. “Before, everything was a la carte, but Mr. DiNapoli and his family came in and decided to put an Italian spin on everything. I’m Italian myself, so I couldn’t be happier.”

The injection of la dolce vita into the fare seems to have brought new life to dishes that emerge from Mr. Gallo’s hands. For anyone who watched the episode of “Kitchen Nightmares,” it was almost painfully clear that Mr. Gallo was no longer harboring heated culinary dreams. As he said himself on the episode, “Do I still have a passion for food? No.”

Mr. Gallo does maintain, however, that – and this is a common refrain among businesses featured on so-called “reality television” – the episode was basically a series of snafus cherry-picked by editors who left all of the positive images on the cutting room floor.

“Gordon is actually very kind,” Mr. Gallo tells Patch. “He’s definitely all business when it comes to food, but he’s very pleasant in person; unfortunately, that, along with the restaurant’s great attributes, didn’t come across on camera.”

Fair enough. But what of the reviewers who alleged that salads were inedible, meat was under-seasoned and sides were just … fair to middling?

“Working with Mr. DiNapoli has reinvigorated my passion for food,” Mr. Gallo said. “Now I remember why I started cooking the first place! Nothing beats some bone-in cowboy meat like venison or steak and I love that we put our own Italian spin on it. How many places can you go for a killer rare steak and a bowl of macaroni?”

And not just any macaroni, mind you. As with most steak restaurants, stick to the classics – but at Olde Stone Mill, feel free to graze on the Italian pastures. Dining on classics like Penne alla Vodka with and Prmie New York Strip, bone in, will harvest the best results. Pasta is perfectly al dente, the meat is seasoned to a T-Bone, and unlike a lot of local restaurants, when you request rare, rare is what you get.

Bargain hunters, take note: the Olde Stone Mill’s Sunset Dinner Menu (from 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday) is a jaw-dropping $19.95, with a choice of salad or soup (go for the soup, preferably the French Onion), plus an entrée like Lemon Roasted Chicken or Filet of Tilapia Florentine with a dessert of the day and coffee or tea.

Just when it looked like she’d be headed for another bust-up, the grande dame has found a number that looks like it might stick.

In addition to cranking out a new set of widgets in the kitchen, Olde Stone Mill is also committed to re-sealing its ties with the community. One way the Inn is giving back is through its Summer of Peace. The Olde Stone Mill and Antonee's (also owned by the DiNapoli family) teamed up with the Art of Peace Charitable Trust to raise money the for a monument to victims of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

A dinner will be held on September 9th at the restaurant. For more information on the event, or to sponsor part of the monument, call (914) 517-2901.

The Olde Stone Mill is located at 2 Scarsdale Rd., Tuckahoe, NY. It can be reached at (914) 771-7661.

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