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Nov 11, 1998 01:18 PM

Rhinebeck Legend Transmogrified

  • s

A couple of Fridays ago, I headed to La Parmigiana for
dinner, like I do on countless Friday evenings. While
my back was turned, they went through a complete make
over, including the name. Now they are known as Marco
Polo's Ristorante. Why change the name of such a well
known establishment?

Inside, it feels like bizarro world. On the surface
things look familiar, but underneath it isn't the same.
New members of the staff are far more asssertive. The
seating has become more formal, making it a less easy
place to bring young children or large groups. The new
menu de-emphasizes the pizzas and calzones for which
they were famous. In the process they have become
considerably less vegetarian friendly.

Olives are always the first thing to go. Instead of
the delightful, wrinkled, oil cured olives, the
Insalata del Cuoco came with smooth, pitted olives from
a can. As I childishly flicked the olives from my
plate onto my place mat, all I could do was hum the
refrain from the REM song, "It's the end of the world
as we know it".

Steven in Red Hook, needing a new haunt

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  1. s
    Steve from Rhinebeck

    Steven,thanks for the info on Marco Polo. I read about it in the local paper,thinking of giving it a try. You saved me time and money. I`m sure you`ve tried Cafe Pongo in Tivoli and Max`s Memphis BBQ in Red Hook. La Parmigiana was always a little odd,back in the days when it was Jacarusso`s.It never knew quite what it wanted to be.Although it held pretty steady the last 3-4 years.Too bad about the recent rebirth.
    Steve from Rhinebeck
    PS The new signs alone should have been a tip off.
    (how did they get that through the zoning board?)

    7 Replies
    1. re: Steve from Rhinebeck

      Yes, Steve, that is too bad about La Parm. I've been going there since it opened, although last summer the service seemed slightly out of it but the pizza was still great. I'll miss it--thanks for saving me a sad visit. How is the Japanese restaurant? Also, I'd like to add my vote for Santa Fe, where many of my dollars have been spent and my liver has been taxed. It's always jam-packed and has an incredibly upbeat feeling and cozy too. The last time I was there I noticed that they FINALLY changed some of the dishes on the menu. About Cafe Pongo, we had a marvelous brunch there complete with terrific bloody mary's, but a year later, our dinner was mediocre. There seemed to be no energy at all in the place, I don't have any recollection of what I ate or if I liked it, and the waiter had a terrible time making up a bloody mary. Is it always like that at dinner? And how is the restaurant further down the street, whose name escapes me but I call it the "J. Crew" restaurant because it seems to have been designed in that style....
      E. Cornell

      1. re: E. Cornell
        Steven Cangemi

        To be fair, the new manager no doubt sees the expanded
        menu as a way to appeal to a wider clientelle, not that
        they ever seemed hurting to me. It seems to me that in
        the process of bringing in the red and white checkered
        table cloths and Italian Flags, they lost their
        uniqueness along with their olives.

        I can't call myself wise in the ways of Sushi, but I
        really like the place in Rhinebeck. The food has
        always been excellent, and the service is gracious.

        I haven't been inside the "Rhinebeck Grille". Is it
        just the Starr Cantina rebadged, or is it appreciably

        Heading north to Tivoli, I've liked the meals I've had
        at Cafe Pongo, but can't really say anything specific.

        I do like Santa Fe, but if you want some heat, it is
        best to bring your own hot sauce (e.g. Mountain Man
        from Eddyville). They don't seem to understand heat.

        Heh, heh. No I've never eaten at J. Crew. The menu
        always struck me as too ordinary for the price.

        I like Memphis Max's. I don't know what my southern
        friends would make of it. I like getting just a pulled
        pork sandwich along with a bunch of side orders. You
        can't order like that at a real barbecue joint.

        1. re: Steven Cangemi

          Has anyone ever heard of Bois d'Arc in the same
          region? It is said to be very nice.

          1. re: Karen
            Steven Cangemi

            Bois d'Arc is on West Market Street (rte 199) in Red
            Hook, the next town north of Rhinebeck. I haven't
            eaten there, because it is beyond my budget. I'll ask

            Are you still looking for good restaurants between New
            Rochelle and Albany? I'm not sure anyone mentioned
            Calico Restaurant and Patisserie. I haven't been there
            in at least a year and a half, but when I was there the
            food and desserts were excellent. It's a tiny place on
            the east side of Route 9, just south of the Rhinebeck
            traffic light (across from Beekman Arms).

            I just sent a co-worker from down south in Poughkeepsie
            there for his anniversary dinner this weekend, so I'll
            get an update.


            1. re: Karen

              Had a great dinner at Bois d'Arc just the other night
              Poached oysters with (would you belive it) collard
              greens? Tasty lamb chops and beautifully grilled salmon
              Service was attentive and gracious
              It's a winner

            2. re: Steven Cangemi

              Thanks for the sushi info. I can't tell you much about the new place in the old Starr Bar, but we thought the Cantina was awful and after staring at the pseudo-mexican menu for about ten minutes, left and just went to our old stand-by, Four Brothers on Route 9G. Isn't Memphis Max owned by David who owns Santa Fe? I've never been there but have heard others also say it's not bad.

          2. re: Steve from Rhinebeck
            wild blue pitchfork

            Things have really changed....
            La Parmigiana was a tiny place in Kingston before it
            moved to Jacaruso's, and has never been the same
            since. Santa Fe was stupendous for its creative and
            fiery food, oh, about five or six years ago. One gets
            the impression that the Starr Bar will never go away.
            On the other hand, one can only hope that the Copper
            Kettle and Sunday breakfast at the Rhinecliff Hotel
            are still going.