You may not notice it at first, but in the dining room of this popular restaurant is a mantel filled with framed photos. At the center is a large portrait of a woman whose beatific smile seems to hold many secrets. “That’s my great-great grandmother, the matriarch of the family,” says Jamie Farella, executive chef and co-owner with baby brother Chris (the pitmaster) and big bro Gavin (front-of-the-house poobah). “She taught my grandmother and mom how to cook.”
The Farella family is originally from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they had their own island and were self-sufficient farmers and fishermen. That way of life ended when a devastating hurricane in the 1920s forced them to the mainland. Happily, the family recipes survived.
Even though they were raised in Mountainville, Orange County, the brothers Farella visited relatives in the Carolinas every summer. “We’d come home and there was nothing like that up here, so, as the years progressed, we wanted to bring to the Hudson Valley,” says the chef, who learned family recipes from his mom, formerly a London restaurateur.
So what’s so special about North Carolina barbecue? “They’re known for the whole hog. Texas does brisket and beef, because it has the cattle. In North Carolina, it’s easier to raise the hog, so we use the whole pig smoked and roasted over coals, then chopped up and served with vinegar sauce with crushed red peppers, salt, and pepper. You don’t get the tomato-based sauce. It’s a different taste, but a lot of people don’t know about it.”
That explains all the piggy figurines around the restaurant, starting in the front yard. Pork is served here every which way. The chopped pork BBQ plate is dressed with that famous vinegar sauce and is a customer fave. Pulled pork comes lightly drizzled with a house-made barbecue sauce. The brothers will even do a private pig roast for the full North Carolina experience.
Still, there’s plenty beyond the pig, with many of the recipes named for those North Carolina relatives who invented them: Aunt Edna’s fried chicken, Mama’s shrimp and grits, Dad’s iceberg wedge (iceberg lettuce with applewood-smoked bacon), to name a few.
Seafood also reflects the family heritage as fishermen. Beaufort shrimp, named for the ancestral family town, is an appetizer of grilled shrimp seasoned with barbecue sauce with horseradish sauce on the side. Even if you’re just there for appetizers, you’ll still get a generous serving of cornbread on the table, on the house.
The operation has grown in fits and bursts since the brothers originally opened a small takeout sandwich operation in 2008. Today, the restaurant seats around 100 with another 30 on the seasonal deck. “It’s a family scene,” says Jamie, though on the weekends, starting at 7, the music crowd pours in for live jazz and blues bands.
More perks are in the works: “I’m working on hush puppies,” says Jamie. “I’m almost there. And we’re just starting to make our own bacon from scratch and are getting more into curing meats and making our own sausage.”
Two smokers smoke some 1,500 pounds of meat 24/7. “The only time we stop is Sunday night, when we turn off the smokers to clean them. We won’t smoke ahead of time. Sometimes people get annoyed when we sell out on the weekend, but we smoke fresh for everyone.”