Last Sunday I was in Millbrook antiquing with friends (one of my favorite antique shops is the Millbrook Antique Mall and I found two beautiful tole trays for my collection). I happened to run into a friend who was working at the new restaurant next to the Antique Mall — Aurelia.
She introduced my friend and me to one of the owners, Susan Nestel (her husband Gennaro Picone is the other owner). We had a great conversation during which I learned they also have a restaurant in New York City (Gennaro) and they had opened Aurelia in Millbrook just this past July. We talked a bit about the current financial climate and its affect on local businesses…particularly restaurants… in our area. (By the way, there is an excellent Editor’s Letter in the current issue of The Valley Table that addresses this very subject...here’s a link to the letter) So, since we at Hammertown like to support other local businesses, Auntie M, Bonnie and I thought we’d take a short trip to Millbrook for dinner at Aurelia ... Here’s Auntie M’s review:
They say within a few seconds of walking into a restaurant, you know what your dining experience is going to be. Aurelia restaurant is a wonderful example of that maxim.
We were greeted by Minks, the bartender, who offered us a cocktail. Bonnie had arrived before us and was sipping what she described as “the best vodka gimlet” she’d ever had. Come on! Well, after hearing something like that…you HAD to try one. So we did and indeed, it was the best vodka gimlet I ever had. And it got even better. There was an oval ceramic dish of something I’d never seen before on the bar…fried olives. Yes, fried green olives. Believe me when I tell you; these were as good as the gimlet!!
Our charming server, Lauren (who we later found out — along with her mother — is a “Hammertown groupie”), seated us for dinner. The dining room reflects the cuisine which Lauren described as rustic Mediterranean. It manages to be classic yet relaxed and unfussy. Creamy yellow walls, mahogany colored wains coating and bentwood chairs and simple wall sconce lighting make the room feel warm and inviting. And, the brown paper over the white tablecloths lets you know immediately that this is real food and enjoying it is the most important thing here. And enjoy it, we did!
We shared 2 antipasti dishes: Tomato & Mozzarella Panzanella Bread Salad and the Blood Orange Salad w/Shaved Fennel & Black Olives. The Blood Orange salad was an incredibly delicious surprise — it went so fast I never got a photo of it. The Tomato & Mozzarella salad was terrific too…like bruschetta in a bowl with capers, olives, cucumber & basil…the only way I managed to get a picture was because I was hoarding it.
We each got a different entree so we could share and compare: (This time I forbade anyone to eat until I got a photo.)
Joan got the Fresh Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter and Walnuts. The pumpkin filling was smooth and nutty and the butter and walnuts simply inspired… you know, when you taste something and your eyes roll back in your head like your praying…that’s what it did. Bonnie’s choice, the House Made Spinach & Ricotta Tortelloni in Sage Brown Butter, was so delicate yet flavorful…How’d they do that? Truly the work of an artist. And I ordered one of the specials which was a House Made Italian Sausage (split and sauteed) with Polenta and Broccoli Rabe. The sausage was lean and perfectly spiced, and the tasty polenta could have stood on it’s own with the broccoli rabe as a vegetarian entree. And, lest I forget to mention: even the bread was amazing!
The only negative thing about our dining experience? We ate so much we didn’t leave room for dessert (which included Tiramisu, Pear Tart with ice cream & a Hazelnut flourless cake). I can only imagine what nirvana that would have been. Well…we’ll just have to go back, won’t we?Where: Aurelia – 3299 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook NY Hours: Closed Monday. Open for Lunch & Dinner Tues – Sunday except closed for lunch on Tuesday Phone: 845.677.4720 http://www.aureliarestaurant.com/