Primo Waterfront offers views of the Hudson River and coastal Italian cuisine | Restaurants | Hudson Valley
The cliffs of the Amalfi Coast may be far away, but the cuisine is closer than you think. In a few weeks, Primo Waterfront the doors will open, bringing seafood-centric coastal Italian cuisine to the Hudson River waterfront in Newburgh. âThe question we asked ourselves when we developed the concept is: how would you feel if you were at a beach club on the Italian coast? Â», Explains Jesse Camac, owner of Primo.
A long-held dream come true
Camac has wanted to own a waterfront restaurant since he started working in the industry in 2005. He partnered with his father and chef Zak Pelaccio to launch the empire of the fat crab, now extinct, with 10 locations from New York to Hong Kong. In 2018 he moved to Poughkeepsie and opened Heritage food + drink at Wappingers Falls.
With a few years at Heritage under his belt, Camac was eager to open another restaurant. Last summer he learned that the former Italian restaurant Cena 2000 was available for hire. He decided to launch the establishment on the waterfront that he had always imagined. âI’ve always loved the Newburgh waterfront in the seven years I’ve been here,â says Camac. âIt felt right to me and it was the right opportunity for a premium premium concept in the region. “
Camac knew he wanted to serve Italian cuisine, in keeping with the offerings of Cena 2000. He and Frank Camey, a chef at Heritage, were not sure what style of Italian cuisine they wanted to do, until that Ralph Bello is coming. Bello reached out to the couple looking for a chef position after working at Fishkill’s now-closed Italian establishment Il Barilotto, and Camac asked if he wanted to expand Primo’s menu. âDuring this first meeting around the table, the three of us looked at each other and we knew it was the right team,â explains Camac.
With Bello’s help, the trio opted for coastal Italian cuisine. âIn Manhattan, it’s not easy to find a space on the waterfront. We just had the impression that the stars were aligned and it made sense to do it in this space, âexplains Camac. When Primo opens, Bello will be its Executive Chef and Camey will serve as Business Leader for Primo and Heritage.
Seafood focused price
Primo’s menu is different from what Camac calls Italian dishes with âtypical red sauceâ. It has a seafood focus and will use local produce and meats. Camac’s wife’s family has worked in agriculture for decades and he appreciates being able to establish direct relationships with farmers. âWe know it has been processed correctly and it will be the best product it can get,â says Camac.
The mastery of Bello’s pasta makes these dishes one of the restaurant’s specialties. A casarecce of prawns, made with shrimp, Calabrian pepper and basil in a cream sauce will be available, as well as octopus pacheri, made with octopus braised in red wine with bone marrow. âWe try to use ingredients that we don’t normally see. You might see king crab in a paste or spot shrimp, âexplains Camac. There are also non-seafood dishes, including sweet sausage gnocchi and brick chicken served with Parmesan polenta.
One of the offerings that thrills Camac the most is the raw vegetables bar, partly inspired by the best restaurants in New York. Camac asked his friend John Daly, who cooks at the Michelin-starred establishment Masa, to teach him and Bello how to prepare raw fish. âWhat we didn’t want to do was have a Japanese crudo program where there is soy sauce and wasabi on everything,â says Camac. “They really worked together.” Japanese techniques from Daly combine with Italian flavors from Bello and result in dishes like Montauk moat with pistachio, ponzu, chives and olive oil. Another dish on offer will be amberjack with strawberry, basil and pink pepper, as well as oysters and king crabs.
There is also an extensive drink menu. In addition to beer, sake, and wine, there are several choices of craft cocktails. Sip the âDerby Day,â made with cardamom infused bourbon, lemon, honey and mint. Frozen cocktails like “Mai Tai”, made with Appleton rum, pineapple, barley syrup, curacao and lime, will also be available. A gin and tonic menu includes variations on the theme, such as ‘Malfy Gin’, made with watermelon, mint and cardamom, and ‘Stray Dog Wild Gin’, made with rosemary, pink berries, pomegranate and of Aegean tonic.
Create a welcoming space
The space gives the impression of a coastal getaway, with walls of windows, indoor and outdoor bars, and a patio seating up to 170 people. âWe have a very open concept. All the sliders open to keep that fresh, natural air entering the space, even if you are not sitting outside, âexplains Camac. âWe really designed the whole restaurant so that most of the seats are facing the water. We want it to be functionality.
Although the food and space are more upscale, Camac still wants to create a welcoming atmosphere. âWe try to make restaurants fun, whether we’re selling a $ 4 burger or a $ 90 steak for two,â says Camac. When Primo opens, he hopes customers will see his team’s work pay off. âWe just want to have fun while we work, and we want our guests to have fun,â he says. âRight now we are focused on making Primo the best restaurant possible. “
50 Front Street, Newburgh