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Aug 19, 2007 08:20 PM

any good food recs for Monticello, Liberty NY

The Sullivan County Catskills looked so neglected last time I went there a few years ago.
Anything new and exciting up there?
Or anything old that is still holding up nicely?

Is that Mr. Willies Restaurant in Monticello still around? Any good?
Hows the buffet (prime rib?) at the Monticello Raceway?

I'll be renting a car and driving all around, South Fallsburg, Woodbourne, the good 'ol former Borscht Belt.

thanks from ellen

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  1. I grew up in South Fallsburg. I go back once a year. VERY DEPRESSING! Best places to eat are:

    The Old Homestead - Bridgeville
    Bernie's Holiday Restaurant - Rock Hill
    Frankie and Johnnies - Hurleyville

    Mr. Willy's is still around...

    5 Replies
    1. re: grindy1

      thanks grindy1 for being my first (and maybe only) response!

      I find it depressing , as well, cause I always go up there thinking of the Catskill glory days, and when I get up there, the sad reality sets in. Very disenchanting.
      (espescially when the top exciting hot-spot in Monticello is the new 24 hour Wal Mart)

      I worked at Grossingers from 78-80 as a cocktail waitress, which may have before your time. Those were the best times of my life!!!

      I still have never tried the Old Homestead and Bernies, (and I love a good steak)
      We used to eat at Twin Bridge Junction for steaks (along with a great salad bar) in Ferndale.
      It's long closed, more than 20 years already! And we went to the Red Barn in Swan Lake, also long closed. I still remember hating to see both those steakhouses go under. (hard to believe it's been over 20 years already)

      My memory of those places makes them probably taste even better than they really were.

      thanks again, grindy...

      ellen in AC

      1. re: ellen4441

        I have a feeling it is also long gone, too.....but is Lefty's still around?

        BTW, my parents met at Grossingers in the late 60s :)

        1. re: L_W

          Lefty's is long gone, too (RIP). It has been a Chinese buffet for awhile now.
          I used to LOVE going to Lefty's with my Grossingers boyfriend (I was a cocktail waitress and he was a bellhop)

          We would always get their french onion soup and their char-broiled burger.
          The atmosphere was so comfy, as well. You just ordered at the counter , and they called your # out when it was ready.

          After , we would sometimes go to Busby's ice cream parlor across the street
          (also long gone). It was by the movie theatre.

        2. re: ellen4441

          Thank you for mentioning the Red Barn Restaurant. That was my families restaurant and I worked there until I was 24 and moved to Florida. Yes, I also go back once a year to see the family and enjoy driving around and reminiscing when it was a great place. It is not the same now. Yes the biggest thing is Walmart, which is very sad. Because it is not a pretty sight to go in there. It is like the bar scene on Star Wars. Just kidding but it is sad because the mom and pop stores are all gone. I try to shut out all of that and enjoy it for what it is. El Monaco closing was the big one for me. That was the end of an era.

        3. re: grindy1

          If you want good food in that part of the Catskills, you will need to get a time machine.

          Those days are long gone. The customers have moved on. I used to like Singers Deli in Liberty (Chinese and Kosher style Deli) and the Antrim Lodge in Roscoe, great prime ribs.


        4. I remember getting decent pizza at a place called Crossways. Have no idea if it's still there.

          5 Replies
          1. re: addictedtolunch

            crossways is, unfortunately, long gone.

            1. re: ericalloyd

              I know this post is a year old, just wanted to add my dad owned the Crossways and yesit is closed and recently demolished. He closed the restaurant after a fire consumed it. I spent most of my teen summers working in that restaurant doing everything to doorman,, dishwasher, cook, and I probably would have been a parking valet if it would have still been there by the time I got my license. We still make our famous pizza, just now we make it for family events.

              1. re: FrankMess

                Can you tell us about the famous pizza, and how you make it?

                1. re: michele cindy

                  Lefty's is back! Maybe just in our minds! LOL

                  1. re: michele cindy

                    I am so sorry it is taking me years to write back. I didn't think anyone would respond to this. The key to the pizza is the dough, the water in the Catskills was terrible for pizza, the crust would never hold. The sauce is key which unfortunately the recipe went to the grave with my Dad who passed in 2009. The good thing is the tradition lives on, I still make pizzas for my wife and kids and family and my 5 year old daughter is becoming quite the pro and my son Joseph, named after his Grandfather will be learning very soon.

            2. Sigh... I moved here three years ago from NYC and I LOVE living here. (We traded a tiny fifth-floor walk-up apartment in Brooklyn for a four room house with 11 acres down a dirt road), but there is, alas, not a single restaurant here worth going out of your way for.

              I keep asking what the "regional specialty" is here (Buffalo has its famous wings, Kansas City has several notable barbecues, NYC has bagels..). Sadly it appeasr that the "regional specialty" is the deep-fried mozzarella stick; bought frozen by every local restaurant from Sysco or some other monster food service provider and tossed in to the fryer. Goes great with a really bad beer.

              There are a few local restaurants that are OK or better:

              Benji & Jake's pizza in White Lake for new-age-y thin-crust pizza plus music upstairs with a nice view of the lake.

              Len and Joes Pizza in Port Jervis. Can't swear that it will be your favorite pizza of all time, but interesting Sicilian style in a nice family-friendly bar/restaurant at a good price. Pleasantly slow service. (Beer? We have Coors, Coors Lite, Bud, Bud Lite, Miller, Miller Lite...)

              Arlene and Tom's in Port Jervis (right off of Ext 1 on Route 84). Try the Meanie Burger -- a gigantic and lovely hamburger worth checking out.

              Homer's Coffee Shop in Port Jervis -- the atmosphere may trump the food, but both are fine and worth visiting.

              Main Street Cafe and also 15 Main in Narrowsburg, NY -- probably the best two places around and worth dining at. 15 Main is fancier. Like a fine (but not earth-shaking) Manhattan restaurant at half the price.

              Le Gorille (closed right now; due to re-open in the fall) in Shohola, PA

              You'll get a good meal at any of these places, but not a one to be found anywhere around here that I would say, "This is worth driving 25 miles out of your way to get to," or "I found a little diner with the BEST pie..." (Don't even THINK about ordering Chinese or barbecue around here unless you're suicidal.)

              If I'm wrong and there's a hidden gem nearby, I would be honored to be proven wrong.

              All this means is that every time I head back to NYC for business or fun, my FIRST thought is, "OK, what should I EAT while I'm in town?"


              8 Replies
              1. re: gleng1

                I have been eating at The Old Homestead in Bridgeville for probably around 40 years. The food has always been very good - certainly the best in the area.

                The Front Porch in White Lake is also very good. Owners and staff are very nice.

                The Fat Lady in White Lake is also highly thought of, but for some reason I am not as big a fan as most. The owner often has a foul attitude - sometimes she doesn't "feel" like taking reservations.

                1. re: HowieC

                  i heard that the fat lady cafe closed

                  1. re: corky

                    She closed for the winter but is re-opening around Memorial Day.

                    1. re: barbara0621

                      thank goodness...its fun appetizer hopping among the 3 (or is it 4?) establishments there...sitting out on the decks

                2. re: gleng1

                  Is Homer's still in business? The last time I was there, which was several months ago, it looked closed.

                  Aroma Thyme Cafe in Ellenville is supposed to be excellent, though I've never been there yet.

                  1. re: ajs42548

                    Homer's has re-opened. I haven't heard the story yet about why it was closed for so long, but...

                  2. re: gleng1

                    UPDATE -- There now IS worthwhile BBQ in the region (but it's outdoors, so not available in the winter).

                    Big Kev's BBQ
                    1032 Route 17
                    Mongaup Valley, NY

                    You can see the details on Chowhound here:


                    1. re: gleng1

                      Hi gleng1,
                      nice heads up on BIG KEV'S BBQ !!!
                      Glad to hear you have a "real" bbq up there now..

                      p.s. just noticed your nice bunch of restaurant "quickie reviews" you posted on April 2009..
                      I may be a year & a half late responding, but I really enjoyed looking at your list !

                      lol @ mozzarella sticks bought at the local Costco !

                      and you may want to add "pastrami" to your list of NYC regional speciaties, as I love my
                      Carnegie Deli !

                      pps Congrats on your lifestyle trade off....... your 5th floor Brooklyn walk-up, to your current home on 11 acres in the Catskills !!

                  3. For research purposes (a book I'm working on): what was the name of the fantastic kosher deli in Monticello, back in the Woodstock days? We would often stop there on the way to and from college in Ithaca, and get fabulous roast beef sandwiches, but the name escapes me. Thanks!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Miss Rennie

                      You mean Kaplan's, on Broadway? If you go on the Catskill's website there is a picture of the place. Most of my fellow Hebe-sters usually preferred Char-Lou's for Roast Pork on Garlic Bread sandwiches across the street, since we came from the city where decent deli could be had on any corner once upon a time. (Besides, pork seemed so "wrong", and what happens in Monticello stays in Monticello, right?)

                    2. I grew up in Bushwick which went down also like neighboring Williamsburg it's kinda of cool, hip,
                      artsy etc .What's going to save the Catskills? The same young group add organic farming ,artisan cheese makers,bakers .I'm 69 years old and recently talked about Portland,Oregon with someone who had just visited.He described Portland as youth driven and pleasant...... oh and he enjoyed the CHOW.