135 North Water Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Hours: Dinner, Tues – Sunday | Lunch, Wednesday – Sunday | Closed Monday
The Nic-L-Inn Wine Cellar on the Hudson is the latest culinary adventure with the Deluccia family, who have been in and around the Hudson Valley restaurant scene for decades. Nick’s family owned the Dockside Harbor in Cold Spring in the 70’s. He and his wife Lynnette (Nick, Lynn, Nic-L-Inn, get it?) ran the original Nic-L-Inn on Route 55 in Lagrange in the 80’s, and opened my personal favorite – the Lynick House – in 1986. Thirty years ago. Ouch.And now they are back, with first daughter Nicolette, and their latest offering, an American bistro. The choice of the new location on North Water Street (one mile north of River Station) was strategic. The restaurant looks out to the Walkway over the Hudson, and more importantly the Walkway’s thousands of walkers look down directly on the restaurant. The new elevator and the Walkway entrance is a short walk from the restaurant’s front door. A business plan was born.
The restaurant opened last year, and we have stopped in a number of times for dinner and the occasional special wine dinner that the Deluccia’s offer. You can read about the initial visit and write-up here. Most recently the restaurant added two new players to their staff that many Hudson Valley diners will know. Bill Hurley was recently brought in as the dining room manager. Bill’s culinary CV is long and storied, starting with a stint at the aforementioned Dockside Harbor with Nick’s family. I first met Bill in the 1980’s when he was the maitre d’hotel at the legendary Plumbush Inn in Cold Spring, where he presided over the dining room for over twenty years. (Rumor has it he is also the keeper of the Plumbush apple fritter recipe). In addition, Chris May, CIA alum and longtime executive chef at Baby Cakes in Arlington, is now stirring things up in the kitchen.The restaurant has a small bar and lounge area just inside the entrance, where you can sample the craft beer offerings and a good selection of wines by the glass. You can check out the wine list here. My one complaint about the wine list is that they do not list vintages. For a place that bills itself a wine bar, they really should. The bistro style menu is tightly focused – five entrees, five pastas, plus three blackboard specials at each service. In addition, diners can choose from a selection of cheeses from local creameries, or an Old World charcuterie board which adds cured meats, roasted vegetables, and olives. On our last visit the kitchen had prepared a special appetizer – a savory lamb ragu stuffed pepper, topped with a spoon of creamy burrata – which was very nicely done. The pasta dishes are often the kitchen’s best effort. The squid ink pasta is a dish that we can claim as our own here in the Hudson Valley. Squid ink pasta was originally introduced in the 1980’s at John Novi’s Depuy Canal House, and this adventurous “nouveau cuisine” contributed to his 4 stars from Craig Claiborne in the Times. This variation I believe has its origins in the kitchen at Panzur in Tivoli, whose sous chef was the original chef here at Nic L Inn. Linguini is tossed with a briny black sauce of seafood butter and shrimp, peppers, and parsley. It tastes better than it sounds. Trust me. More traditional pasta dishes include a hearty bolognese over whole wheat fettuccine, and my favorite – house made chicken sausage tossed with cavatelli pasta, broccoli rabe, sundried tomatoes, and ricotta. The grilled swordfish steak I sampled last week is typical of the blackboard specials that you will find complementing the regular menu. Here the filet was plated on a purée of seasonal butternut, which was topped with a fregola salad. (Fregola is Sardinian pasta similar to couscous). It was all finished with a spritz of frisée, and very nicely done.
The new Nic-L-Inn is well worth a visit, especially if you are down near the waterfront in Poughkeepsie, or enjoying a stroll on the area’s premier attraction – the Walkway over the Hudson.