Eating Your Way Up (or Down) Route 22
There are two main arteries for traveling between New York City and our region—Route 22 and the Taconic State Parkway—and I prefer Route 22 because you can eat and shop along the way. (Of course, nothing beats the Taconic in good weather for a Zen driving experience.) For anyone who travels any part of the 57 mile stretch between Brewster and Hillsdale, here are essential pitstops listed in order, beginning at the intersection Route of 22 and I-684.
OK, you’re going to have to take slight detour, but it’s absolutely worth it. Has there ever been a grocery store chain as beloved as Trader Joe’s? In the pantheon of food retailers Trader Joe’s falls somewhere between Dean & DeLuca and Costco—taste level and entertainment value leaning toward the former, prices leaning toward the latter. Trader Joe’s is the first place you’ll see a new idea so good that it later becomes a cliché. It was a solid 15 years ahead of other supermarkets on things like nan, curry simmer-sauce, sort-of-fresh salsa, and hummus. Loyalists rhapsodize about private label products like fire-roasted peppers, organic olive oil and Tarrazu coffee beans. The Danbury store is small and easy to navigate, so you can probably stock your pantry for the summer in 30 minutes.
Trader Joe’s is four miles from the intersection of Route 22 and I-684. Take the exit for 84 East/Danbury and get off at Exit 2, and make a left at the light.
113 Mill Plain Road, Danbury, CT; 203.739.0098
Daily 9 AM - 9 PM
Red Rooster Drive-In
Stopping at the iconic red-and-white striped A-frame with the ice cream cone on the roof is a no-brainer—a decades-old summer tradition that’s happily available to us all year long. Where else can you get a grilled-to-order burger, impeccably fried onion rings and a soft ice cream cone after midnight on a Friday or Saturday night? At peak hours, the lines can be maddening, which is why the adjacent miniature golf course is a balm to parents with young children.
1566 Route 22, Brewster, NY; 845.279.8046
Monday - Thursday 10 AM - 11 PM ; Friday & Saturday 10 AM - 1 AM
Sunday 10 AM - midnight
7 Stars Family Restaurant
Since 1989, the Moundoukas family has been running the 7 Stars diner across from the Red Rooster. Greek coffee shop veterans who learned their trade in the Bronx and Westchester, the family takes great pride in using fresh ingredients that they get from the Hunts Point Market and herbs they grow themselves on three acres behind the restaurant. I have probably eaten the 7 Stars Greek salad (below) more than two dozen times, and it is always perfection: crisp lettuce (which, they volunteer, makes it “inauthentic’), grape leaves, piquant feta, cucumbers, olives and radishes all stylishly presented and served with a basket of warm challah. “The challah is a tradition that goes back to our Bronx roots,” says second-generation co-owner Dean Moundoukas (above with his mother, Sophia), who notes that they import their own olive oil from family back in Greece, which explains why their homemade vinaigrette is so luscious. You can pretty much get anything under the sun at Seven Stars. “Except matzoh ball soup,” says Dean. “It’s the one thing we’ve never been able to get right.”
1577 Route 22, Brewster, NY; 845.278.2750
Sunday - Thursday 7 AM - 10 PM; Friday & Saturday 7 AM - 11 PM
Aversano’s Restaurant and Pizzeria
When you’re really in a hurry, the drive-thru at McDonald’s can seem very tempting, but there’s a better option just behind it: Aversano’s. You can grab a slice of pizza or a stromboli that’s as savory and satisfying as anything you can find on the streets of Brooklyn. (You can also have a proper meal in the adjacent upscale restaurant.)
1620 Route 22 at Towne Centre; 845.279.2233
Monday - Sunday 11 - 10
A & P 24 Hour Market
No one likes to wake up on a Saturday morning and have to rush to the supermarket. Knowing you can shop late at the A&P in Patterson is reassuring, especially if you’re driving up late on a Friday night for the weekend. This is one of those mega stores that sells much more than food, including every imaginable paper, plastic and rattan accessory for a holiday-weekend cookout.
3101 Route 22, Patterson, NY; 845.878.1071
Monday 7 AM - Saturday 11 PM
Sunday 7 AM - 9 PM
Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Q
In the summer of 2003, The New York Times discovered a man named Warren Norstein who was smoking meats on the side of Route 22 in front of Pawling Collision. Suddenly, foodies from New Yorke were making special trips from the city to taste his dry-rub slow-smoked spareribs and take back his lacquered whole chickens. A year and a half ago, he moved Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Q indoors to an easy-to-overlook strip mall in Wingdale, but the faithful followed. He closes each night when he runs out of food (usually between 7 - 8 PM) so if you want to pick up an order to go it is best to call ahead.
1475 Route 22, Wingdale; 845.832.6200
Wednesday - Sunday noon - 7 or 8 PM
Closed Monday & Tuesday.
If you’re looking for something higher end than the traditional road-trip fare, then Serevan is the place. Prices are of inevitably higher but worth it. Meals expertly prepared by owner Serge Madikan include chicken Bastilla with orange-curry emulsion ($23), pan-seared branzino ($25), and rack of lamb with Madjoul dates and dried limes ($34). Along with a dessert menu that is hard to resist, the comfortable and relaxed decor is a pleasant break for the road weary traveler.
6 Autumn Lane Route 44, (West of Route 22) Amenia; 845- 373-9800
Thursday - Monday
5 - 10 PM
Four Brothers Drive-In
The Stefanopoulos brothers added their souped-up version of a burger shack to their nine-restaurant Four Brothers empire. Located next to their outpost in Amenia, it has a large patio with umbrella tables for relaxed and affordable alfresco dining. In addition to hamburgers and foot-long hot dogs, there are salmon burgers and veggie burgers which means you won’t feel guilty ordering a milkshake or banana split for dessert.
Route 22 & 44, Amenia, NY; 845.373.8178
Monday - Sunday 11 AM - 10 PM
McEnroe Organic Farm
You’ll find some 50 different cuts of meat in the freezer case at McEnroe’s, which raises its own organic beef, lamb, pork and poultry. No matter the season, you can find organic tomatoes here but they’ll cost you a pretty penny. If you need sandwiches for a hike or locally made cheese for a cocktail party or ice cream from nearby Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, McEnroe won’t let you down.
Routes 22 & 44, Amenia, NY; 518.789.4191
Daily 9 AM - 5 PM; Friday 9 AM - 5:30 PM
When you need milk, bread, smokes, or lottery tickets very early or late, you’re reminded why these retail establishments are called convenience stores.
9248 Route 22
Hillsdale, NY; 518.325.5846
Daily 5:30 AM - 11 PM