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RI Archives: Food

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The Art Of Za At The Lantern Inn In Wassaic, NY

By Joanna Virello

That magical hamlet Wassaic, at the end of Metro-North’s Harlem Line, is home to a very special place: The Lantern Inn. It’s a place where you can get a bonafide Brussel Simmons, a wood-fired pizza pie with roasted Brussels sprouts, bacon and fresh mozzarella and ricotta ($14); or the Art of Kale, with red sauce, artichoke hearts and mozzarella and Romano cheeses — and you can add sausage to that canvas if you’re feeling a bit creative ($13).

The Lantern’s pizza is simply great. I lived in Brooklyn and grew up near New Haven, Conn., so I have gorged on some of the best pizza in the U.S.: Pepe’s, Sottocasa, Franny’s, Keste and UNA. It’s commonly known that the dough recipe at The Lantern is a strain from Brooklyn’s infamous Roberta’s. But it’s better than the prototype.

The Lantern’s dough is dense, rich, flavorful and just a bit chewy in that perfect Neapolitan way. Sometimes it seems like it’s going to liquefy in your mouth. That might sound a tad erotic, but it’s a taste that instantly takes you to a very happy place.

The topping options are locally sourced and are either tasty variations on a Margherita or are simply works of art in and of themselves. If you decide to drop by on a Wednesday, please note it’s pizza’s night off so be prepared to experience The Lantern’s comfort food menu. This is your opportunity to try the meatloaf, also locally sourced.

The restaurant is spacious and vintage rustic, with a pool table, huge barroom and a large, well-lit dining room with communal tables. It was once the tavern that serviced the Borden Milk Factory workers, only now it has a giant pizza oven, craft beer and stellar firepit in the backyard that also boasts a big outdoor stage. If you’re lucky, you might catch Mail the Horse, Burt Murder or Prince Rama playing a set in warmer weather. This spot is where art, pizza and live music collide. It’s the brainchild of Jeff Barnett-Winsby, one of the co-executive directors of The Wassaic Project and a founder of the Wassaic Artist Residency. He lives in town with his wife and fellow Wassaic Project director Bowie Zunino, and their daughters Gilvey and Fenner. The husband-and-wife team run The Lantern along with a cast of local artists. Jeff was kind enough to enlighten me on the art of their singular pizza.
 
What is your favorite pizza pie at The Lantern?
My favorite is the Carbonara. It’s a white pie [extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and garlic] with amazing bacon and homemade mozzarella, and it’s finished out of the oven with raw egg yolk, red pepper flakes and Romano cheese.

Which pie is your best seller?
By far this has to be the Margherita. Classics are hard to beat for a reason.

What pie is favored by Prince Rama?
The Green Lantern, our kale pie finished with lemon oil.

What are your current pies… is the website menu the same as what you’re currently serving?
Correct, although we have weekly specials not listed.

What makes the Lantern’s pizza dough taste so great? The water in Wassaic?
Two things. The first is the cold proofing. It builds flavor like nothing else. And second is the hard work of our kitchen staff. To be able to consistently produce such quality is really a testament to their dedication and abilities.

Is it true the formula for the dough is taped to the wall in the kitchen for all to follow?
Of course! We’re an open book. You aren’t paying for secrets when you come see us. Baking with fire is old stuff and we are always happy to give tips to any hobbyists and/or budding pros.

Where do you source your cured meats and local sausage?
We’re currently without a source for these two that would qualify as local. We’re working to expand our relationship with Meiller [Slaughterhouse] for the sausage.

House-made mozzarella? Who makes it?
Absolutely house-made. We buy curd from Belgioioso and make cheese every day. What’s more important is why. We do it because it ensures the correct amount of salt and allows us to control the density of the cheese. Everyone takes turns making it.

Tomatoes and olive oil… any info?
Basic, good-quality canned tomatoes and quality EVOO.

What makes your wings special?
The wings are completely cooked via sous-vide and cooled ahead of frying. This method helps us create very quick frying and perfectly juicy wings every time.

Salads: What farms do you source the greens from?
We use Sky Farm exclusively when they’re producing. There’s no good reason not to use the best, especially when they’re right up the road.

The Lantern Inn
10 Main Street, Wassaic, NY
(845) 373-8389
Wednesday, 5-9 p.m. Comfort food night — no pizza. Call for specials.
Thursday, 5-8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 5-9 p.m.
Sunday, 3-7 p.m.
The bar is open Wednesday through Sunday starting at 3 p.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/26/17 at 01:55 PM • Permalink