Photos courtesy of Whitewater Imagery
Run by the team behind Heritage Food + Drink in Wappingers Falls, Primo Waterfront combines Hudson River views with an elegant menu.
Dining along the Newburgh seafront is an experience.
While the city as a whole is renowned for its top-notch food and drink, there’s something extra special about scoring a table that offers a view of the Hudson River alongside an appetizing meal.
And that’s exactly why Jesse Camac knew he wanted to open a restaurant there.
If his name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard him attached to Heritage Food + Drink in Wappingers Falls, which Camac has run since opening in 2017 (and has won multiple Best of Hudson Valley awards for years). . So when he learned that the space housing the now closed Cena 2000 in Newburgh was up for grabs, he knew it had premier restaurant potential.
But did we mention it was in the middle of the pandemic?
The timing may not have seemed ideal, but it was just the right time to secure the space, create the concept and build the team. Since Italian cuisine had already been successful there, Camac knew he wanted to pursue something similar. Instead of a typical “red sauce” joint, however, he came up with Primo Waterfront, a lighter Italian concept emphasizing coastal cuisine and seafood dishes common to the Mediterranean region. He just needed a leader to lead him.
“About this time, Frank [Camey, the corporate chef for Heritage Food + Drink] received a call from Ralph Bello, who told us Il Barilotto [in Fishkill] was closing,” says Camac. Bello, former executive chef of Il Barilotto for six years, was looking for a position and Camac was happy to have him join the team. In no time, Bello, Camac and Camey were talking, and “the three of us knew [Bello] would be the perfect guy for [Primo]“recalls Camac. With his experience rolling fresh pasta and his background in Italian cuisine, Bello is a great candidate for the management position at Primo, with Camey serving as business manager for Heritage and Primo.
Slated to open in fall 2021, Primo Waterfront will invite diners to experience coastal Italian cuisine in the heart of the Hudson Valley. The restaurant takes inspiration from the Amalfi Coast and Venice for its menu, which is avant-garde and fresh as can be. As with Heritage, Primo will source many of its ingredients from farms in the Hudson Valley and modify the menu to incorporate seasonality.
“My wife’s family has been in agriculture for 75 years,” Camac explains. “We try to support local farmers as much as possible. It’s the right thing to do and the products are better.
So what’s on the menu at Primo Waterfront? When it opens, Newburgh Restaurant will be a go-to spot for antipasti ranging from creamy burrata to mouth-watering mussels. Pasta is a focal point, thanks to Chef Bello’s skill in making it. True to the restaurant’s waterfront roots, many pastas incorporate seafood, with options like lobster bucatini or octopus paccheri to make your mouth water. The main course will be equally tempting, with grilled salmon, cioppino and swordfish spiedini to give guests the feeling of dining on the Italian coast.
Of course, the best part of it all may be the restaurant’s crudo and raw bar. The menu concept draws inspiration from both Italy’s seafood-focused regions and some of New York’s top-rated restaurants, which Camac frequented while researching the best way to incorporate a concept of crudo, or the Italian version of a raw sea bass, on the menu. Working with John Daly, a friend of his with experience at Michelin-rated 15 East and Masa, Camac hired him as a consultant to learn everything he and Bello needed to know about sourcing and butchering fish. .
“It’s one of the most special parts of the menu,” Camac says of the crudo section. “We buy from places where these omakase restaurants [in New York City] buy from.
Indeed, the crudo menu stands out as one of Primo Waterfront’s most unique offerings. With rotating specialties based on ingredients and seasons, Primo’s crudo dishes tempt diners with bites like amberjack with strawberries, basil and pink pepper or spotted prawns with sunflower pesto, lemon and capers . In short, it is more than enough to make your mouth water.
Of course, the food menu is only part of the picture at Primo. The restaurant also offers some serious flavor on its cocktail menu, which includes fresh ingredients that rotate with the seasons. G&Ts are a staple, while frozen drinks like Mai Tais and frosé are a delicious surprise. There is also beer, sake and a selection of wines. Hey, it’s an Italian restaurant, after all.
When it comes to space, Primo offers a completely different atmosphere than Cena 2000. Thanks to an extensive renovation carried out by Camac himself, the Hudson Valley restaurant is a completely custom project designed to match the high concept range of the restaurant. White hues dominate the space, flanked by black and brown accents with pops of blue interspersed throughout the design. Primo embraces its riverside location, with an airy concept and open kitchen inside that seamlessly blends into the outdoor dining space beyond. There are approximately 65 seats in the building, including a private dining room that seats 20-25 people, as well as another 160-170 seats outside for those who want to eat by the water. Two bars, one indoors and one outdoors, complete the latest dining experience to arrive along Newburgh’s seafront.
Want to try it? With an expected opening date later this fall, Primo Waterfront is poised to bring a new take on Italian cuisine to the Hudson Valley community. Follow the restaurant on Instagram for a sneak peek at some of its mouth-watering dishes.
50 Front Street, Newburgh
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