Mill House Brewing Company: Poughkeepsie, NY
B Spot Burgers: Michael Symon's place in Cleveland, OH

Eating in Hudson Valley: Cucina: Woodstock, NY: brunch done right

Cucina woodstock exterior and porch

Cucina was a restaurant that kept popping up in searches and when we were asking for advice on where to eat in/around Woodstock. Plenty of rave reviews everywhere we looked. Frankly, I was a little skeptical. Why would I want to eat "Italian" food in Woodstock? Didn't seem to make much sense to me. It probably still doesn't make much sense to me. However, we did stop at Cucina for "brunch" one afternoon, and were really impressed.

The place is really gorgeous. It's set in an old farmhouse, complete with a wrap-around porch (used for dining). The interior has been completely renovated--with more of a modern twist than you might expect. The front door leads into a large barroom, with a small lounge attached. On either side are dining rooms. The one to the right is quite large and runs the depth of the house. Lots of natural light flows in from all directions.

You can't eat the architecture, so let me get to the food.

The brunch menu at Cucina offers some of the typical snoozy brunchy fare, like eggs and pancakes and fruit and french toast, but, thankfully, also includes food more appropriate for discerning adults. There are plenty of apps, sandwiches, pizzas, and entrees, which can of course showcase the abilities of the kitchen and represent the vision of the chef and the ethos of the restaurant more than "two eggs any style" ever could, Goddamnit. #brunch

Cucina woodstock caesar salad

We started with the "Caesar BLT." A perfectly dressed, perfectly composed dish of lettuce, bacon, olives, tomatoes, and slices of parmesan. Super-fresh, super-delicious. Could our love for this dish have been because we were starrrrrving? I don't think so, since we had a good amount of the outstanding bread before any food hit the table. Served with fruity olive oil, of course.

Cucina woodstock bread
Cucina woodstock bread

I went a tuna sandwich--billed as "Sicilian." After noshing on that bread I was really hoping the sandwich would come on bread equally as exceptional. It did. Red onion, tomato, and olives, on an outrageously good baguette. Sound boring or typical? It was not. Lots of salty elements and lots of textures to play on your tongue.

Salmon cucina woodstock

The star of the show was the slow-roasted salmon with corn pudding and tomato vinaigrette. We determined that this was quite possibly the best salmon dish that we've had. Ever. Anywhere. I'm not a fan of salmon, unless it's raw. Cooked salmon's texture and flavor don't do much for me. This salmon, however, didn't suffer from any of the unappealing aspects that I normally associate with cooked salmon. Perhaps because it was cooked slowly? That's anyone's guess. All I know is that it was like butter. And the corn pudding inspired us to make our own a few nights later. A great, simple dish--a simplicity that speaks to the Italian influence at Cucina. Maybe eating Italian in Woodstock makes sense after all.

There were cocktails to be had, many of which sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it was before noon, and there was no booze to be served, thanks to some outdated out-of-touch puritanical law of ye olde Wood-stooke.

Cucina, Italian or not, will be near the top of our list for any trips to the Woodstock area in the future. I get the impression they know what they're doing.

Cucina : 109 Mill Hill Road : Woodstock, NY : 845.679.9800