Hudson Valley Dining Gems

That is why I am excited to introduce you to Pepettini and Storm King Lounge, two neighboring restaurants owned by Louie Pipolo, whose wife, Julie, owns Skin Westchester, a skin care treatment clinic on Purchase Street.

Published May 11, 2024 5:01 PM
4 min read


In my first job out of college, I organized Taste of the Nation gourmet food and wine tasting events for the charity Share Our Strength. This wide range of culinary options and experiences gave me a front row seat to the booming food and beverage industry, which included the rise of celebrity chefs. 

Danny Meyer, a hospitality genius, was on our board. When he visited our offices one day, he learned that I was planning to move to Spain and trying to save money. He asked if I would like to work at Union Square Café, which at the time was the No. 1 Zagat-rated restaurant in NYC. That summer I was a busgirl at Union Square Café and it remains one of the most educational and memorable experiences of my life. Someday I hope to write a book about that colorful summer, but for now it inspires the magic around my table, whether my kitchen or a restaurant. From the love and passion to the quality ingredients to the personalities and finally, the execution; each plays a key role in a quality dining experience.

That is why I am excited to introduce you to Pepettini and Storm King Lounge, two neighboring restaurants owned by Louie Pipolo, whose wife, Julie, owns Skin Westchester, a skin care treatment clinic on Purchase Street. Pipolo has created two great restaurants that each offer an authentic experience, but with completely different vibes. 

When you look up Pepettini on the internet, it looks like you could be in Tuscany. In person, it did not disappoint. Eleven of us showed up to celebrate my mom’s 81st birthday, and from the second we walked in, we felt relaxed and at home. Cozy and welcoming, it bustled with happy energy and, bonus, smelled like my grandmother’s kitchen. We were instantly starving. 

The quality of the ingredients made for a delicious meal, the staff could not have been friendlier or more accommodating and being together with our family made this a special culinary experience. Lastly, the execution of the meal was spot on. The stunning charcuterie boards, the timing of the meal, the unobtrusive but completely attentive service, and, of course, the delicious dishes made for a magical meal because it was rooted in authenticity.

Louie has been kind enough to share his penne alla vodka recipe, which I cannot wait to try.

Storm King Lounge has a darker, warmer feel due to the black decorative ceiling panels, blue velvet upholstery and jazzy décor. It feels like Frank Sinatra might walk in at any moment. There is also a large private room for events. I had the chance to sit down with Chef Michael Dederick and learn about his vision for not only SK lounge but for how he hopes to have an impact on the way we choose to eat and look at the importance of food as medicine. 

Chef Michael is a classically trained CIA graduate who was born and raised in the Hudson Valley and has honed his culinary skills in New York City, Charleston, South Carolina, and Europe. He became fascinated with the mind-gut connection and is well-versed in studies that show how food can actually transmit feelings to the brain. “This makes the gut the second brain,” he said, and may be the root cause of many diseases and mental health issues. He is passionate about changing the conversation about food to one that focuses on reshaping our food systems and promoting sustainable diets. He sees “food as a universal language, capable of bridging cultural divides and fostering a greater understanding of our shared humanity.”

 He sources fresh, sustainable ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and artisans. His menus are creative, resourceful, healthy and delicious. At SK Lounge, you can try seared branzino with ginger chili glaze, Vietnamese pho noodle bowl with your choice of salmon, pork belly, chicken or shrimp with Asian vegetables, coffee-chili rubbed smoked gouda mac ’n cheese and playful presentations like the clothesline bacon and shishito peppers with maple rosemary aioli. They were whipping up some amazing lobster ravioli when I was there and next time I need to try the field greens and spring berries salad with honey-thyme vinaigrette

.Cornwall-On-Hudson, where these restaurants are located, is an adorable village just 45 minutes away. There are a million reasons to leave Rye, take a field trip up the Hudson, and end up at Pepettini or Storm King Lounge for dinner. I went to the Army/Navy lacrosse game in the rain and it was spectacular, especially knowing I had SK Lounge to look forward to afterward. The Storm King Art Center is not to be missed and would be a fun precursor to a stroll through the town before dinner.

Rye has plenty of good eating, but I highly recommend checking out both of these Hudson Valley gems.

Pepettini Penne Alla Vodka (Serves 4-6)


16 ounces penne pasta

3T. extra virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves minced

¼ t. red pepper flakes

2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes

⅓ cup vodka

1T. tomato paste

1T. balsamic Vinegar

1t. kosher salt

¼ cup basil, chopped

¾ cup half and half 

2T. Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh black pepper to taste


Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for another minute until fragrant. Pour in the whole peeled tomatoes, crushing them with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, and kosher salt. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Carefully add the vodka to the skillet. Allow the sauce to simmer for an additional 10 minutes so the alcohol can cook off and the flavors can meld. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the half and half and grated Parmesan cheese until the sauce is creamy and heated through.

Add the cooked penne pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat evenly. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little pasta water to loosen it.Sprinkle the fresh chopped basil and a few grinds of black pepper over the top. Serve hot with extra Parmesan cheese on the side.

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