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Salt & Fire Does American Cuisine in an Elegant Saugerties Space

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Photos courtesy of Salt & Fire

The new American spot by longtime friends brings wood-fired cuisine with European influences to Partition Street in Saugerties.

When you take over a restaurant space with a fully functioning wood-fire oven, it would be a shame not to put it to good use. This was exactly the mindset of the Rodriguez and Della Chiesa families when their new American restaurant, The Kitchen at Salt & Fire, took over the former Bella Luna Italian restaurant in Saugerties.

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Joseph and Katie Della Chiesa and Jorge and Rhianna Rodriguez are not strangers to the HV restaurant scene: All but Jorge—who hails from El Salvador—are Saugerties natives. Since 2008, the Rodriguezes have served up Mexican and southwestern fare at Main Street, a local staple that’s a two-minute walk from Salt & Fire. Joseph has worked at several Saugerties kitchens throughout his career, including as head chef at Miss Lucy’s Kitchen, which specializes in new American cuisine.

Salt & Fire meal

As longtime friends, Jorge and Joseph had many conversations about opening a restaurant together—when Bella Luna closed in early 2022 and the Partition Street building was available for lease, it was a perfect opportunity. What was originally a Mediterranean-style interior was soon transformed into a brighter space with contemporary accents: ochre walls and red tablecloths were replaced by white paint and deep teal upholstery.

Salt & Fire restaurant

The wood-fired oven became an integral part of the menu. “We were inspired by the concept of old-world cooking and wanted to utilize the wood-fired oven with as many dishes as we could,” says Katie. But, instead of sticking to Italian entrées and pizzas, the oven cranks out modern fare with European influences. (Think: seafood appetizers, shareable flatbreads, and mains such as porterhouse steak and duck.)

Favorites from the hearth include a gambas starter, consisting of shrimp, garlic, chilis, and Spanish olive oil; chicken with mustard cream sauce, braised greens, and garlic mashed potatoes; a wild mushroom flatbread with fontina cheese, truffle oil, and thyme; and a rack of lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes and cucumber-mint crème fraiche.

Salt & Fire steak

While the project is still young, Katie describes it as an “all hands on deck” operation where you can find the four friends working together every night. Joseph leads the kitchen as head chef with help from Jorge and chef de cuisine—and former mentor at Miss Lucy’s—Niels Nielsen. Katie and Rhianna head the front of house and shake up signature cocktails like the Smoked Old-Fashioned and the Saugerties Bee’s Knees.

fruit tart

Salt & Fire’s oven is hot and ready Wednesday through Sunday for casual dining downstairs or al fresco dinners on their rooftop deck.

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