Westchester meets England in Dobbs Ferry; more specifically in a new restaurant by chef Dave DiBari.
DiBari, who owns three village restaurants, The Cookery, The Parlor, and DoughNation, said he wanted to bring something out of the box to county diners in the space formerly occupied by The Cedar Street Grill.
“You’d think I’d do tacos or pizza, pasta or possibly a burger joint,” he said, “But I couldn’t make my life easy.”
Instead, The Rare Bit is his version of a British gastropub with influences from both English chef Fergus Henderson, (DiBari is a big fan) and The Ten Bells Pub in London, known for its Victorian decor, serious gin menu and the promise of a good time. (Jack the Ripper was also here, but that’s a whole other story.)
DiBari is doing a soft opening Dec. 12 to Dec. 14 and hopes to officially launch on Dec. 15, though it’s possible that could get moved to the 18th.
Along with traditional British dishes such as bangers and mash, Potted Shrimps, fish and chips, and Welsh Rarebit (a dish made with a savory melted cheese sauce and various other ingredients served hot over toasted bread), there will also be a host of Indian dishes such as chicken tikka masala and his version of Papdi Chaat, an Indian snack usually made with peas and a motley of bases, chutneys, munchies and fresh ingredients.
Indian food is a staple of British life, said DiBari, as well as his “go to” when he’s not working.
The goal of the restaurant, he said, is to make the dining experience fun with the sense of playfulness the British are known for. “Everything will be scrummy,” said DiBari. (That’s British-speak for “delicious,” in case you didn’t know.)
“Fergus Henderson has always had this idea of doing really soulful delicious things in the style of his country and that appeals to me,” explained DiBari. “Aside from there being a void for this type of cuisine, it’s a simple kind of food that’s easy to educate people about.”
To that end, he’ll be doing an authentic Sunday roast complete with vegetables and Yorkshire pudding similar to the popular pig dinners he does at The Cookery.
That also means his own menu interpretations of popular British dishes. His Eton Mess, for example, will be constructed of charcoal meringue and absinthe-soaked strawberries in lieu of the traditional English dessert mixture of strawberries, broken meringue and whipped double cream,
Also on the menu: a serious cocktail program, heavy on gin. Of particular note: eight cocktails, both carbonated and not, will be on tap for what DiBari calls “speed, consistency and quality.”
The entire project has challenged both DiBari and his staff — more so because he’s also opening a restaurant in Port Chester soon after The Rare Bit’s premiere (more about that is coming from lohud.com). Luckily, he said, he has great people including his new chef director, John Poiarkuff, formerly of Restaurant North in Armonk, whom he calls a “culinary genius.”
For the first time in his career DiBari is opening The Rare Bit with a business partner, longtime restaurateur Scott Broccoli, who owned and ran several eateries in San Francisco. (One of Broccoli’s restaurants, in fact, was called Dobbs Ferry in homage to his home town.)
DiBari said the two were “flirting” for about two years before finally joining together for what he jokes is his third restaurant that begins with word “The.”
I’m the type of the person who works in terms of the opportunity in front of me,” said DiBari. And the old Cedar Street Grill space basically fell into his lap. Despite the fact that he was already committed to taking over the old Q space in Port Chester, he knew it was the right move.
With Broccoli, he traveled to Shoreditch, a diverse, artsy area of London, for research in order to recreate an old-style, loungey pub. To wit The Rare Bit has lots of woods, ornate mirrors, chandeliers, tiles, playful wallpaper and pops of color.
The restaurant, which has a 106-seat capacity — the partners took over an adjoining storefront and expanded the bar and rebuilt the kitchen — has been designed with private parties in mind.
DiBari’s goal is to open The Rare Bit sometime this week but it’s possible it may be more like mid-December.
With all he has going on,and his project in Port Chester on tap, he said none of this would be possible without the support and talents of his staff.
“I wouldn’t have had the confidence to open two locations at the same time without the core infrastructure of my company director of operations Michelle Longo, general manager Godfrey Pollistina and chefs Sajin Renea, Lulia Mahu, Sanchez Salazar and John Poiarkuff.”
If you Go
The Rare Bit is closed Mondays but open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and to 9 p.m. Sundays. It will be open for lunch Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Go: 23 Cedar St., Dobbs Ferry, 914-693-8000
What about Port Chester?
At the same time DiBari has been planning the concept and opening of The Rare Bit, he’s also been knee-deep in the build-out and menu design for Eugene’s Diner and Bar, a new Port Chester diner that he plans to open in early to mid-January.
The two projects happened to coincide, which was not DiBari’s original plan: Port Chester was in the works first while the old Cedar Street Grill project happened more spontaneously.
The modern-style diner and bar, which is named after his grandfather, is located at 112 N. Main St. Follow lohud.com for updates.
Original article here.