New Paltz is welcoming back La Stazione, an Italian restaurant on Main Street. The restaurant reopened its doors this past October.
The restaurant has gone through many different variations of its name throughout its life, starting as “The Station” and now officially, finally settling on Original La Stazione after it was reopened by Rocco Panetta.
Original La Stazione began its journey in 1870 as a station in the Wallkill Valley Railroad. Service on the railroad ceased operation in 1937 with freight service stopping in 1977, after which the station stood idle and abandoned for a very long time. Panetta took over the building in 1999 and saw his vision for what the old railroad station could be in the future.
“I used to come up here hunting and saw this place. It was abandoned and ready to fall down,” Panetta told Hudson Valley One. “We had to jack it up to replace the floors.”
After this renovation, Panetta successfully turned the old abandoned railroad station into a restaurant and named it “La Stazione” and began serving Italian food. He operated the business almost entirely by himself for 14 years before eventually handing the restaurant over to Richard Ronkese in 2013. Panetta still owned the building, but Ronkese ran the business for the next eight years. After he had shut down the operation, Panetta stepped back in.
“It closed this May, so I took it back and cleaned everything up and reopened again,” Panetta told Hudson Valley One.
Panetta hails from the Southwestern region of Italy known as Calabria. He moved to the United States at the young age of 8-years-old and was working in the restaurant business by 14-years-old in pizzerias.
The menu at La Stazione has many classics of Italian cuisine like Penne alla Vodka and Fettuccine Alfredo, but it also has some specials like the Pappardelle alla Frankie and the Salad alla Frankie named after the current chef at La Stazione, Francisco “Frankie” Castro.
Castro joined as a chef at La Stazione with the reopening of the restaurant this October. Panetta found him at a Spanish restaurant in Newburgh. Coming to an Italian restaurant from a Spanish restaurant is a big switch as the two cuisines have very different flavor profiles and utilize very different ingredients and techniques.
“He’s cooked in a lot of places,” Panetta told Hudson Valley One. “And our old chef comes in to consult, Mark Fazio. He worked here for 13, 14 years.”
La Stazione connects to the Rail Trail which is a common hiking trail that was once home to the actual rails of the Wallkill Valley Railroad — hence the name. The section of the Rail Trail that passes through La Stazione is used by the restaurant as outdoor seating. Obviously with winter right around the corner, the outdoor dining experience of La Stazione will not be available, but come springtime outdoor dining will become available again and diners will be able to sit outside to view the beautiful Mohonk scenery.
“Downstairs we have our wine cellar. The cellar has a beautiful granite table that accommodates 15 people for private parties. The décor, of course, are beautifully designed wine racks (storing up to 3,000 bottles of wine from all over the world with main emphasis on Italy and great American varieties and hand painted murals of the station as it is today.” La Stazione’s website reads.
They will also cater events.
“We have and will cater for any occasion on or off premise,” the website reads. “A birthday, anniversary, bar mitzvah, or a 200 person wedding for your only daughter, we have seen and done it all!”
They do have catering menus available, but La Stazione would interested customers to come in and work with them to plan the party.
La Stazione is located in New Paltz at 5 Main Street and as it stands right now, they are open on Monday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information or to place a reservation, call 845-256-9447. More info can also be found on their website originallastazione.com.
If you’re looking for good Italian food in New Paltz, or just want to see a historic landmark of the Hudson Valley, Original La Stazione is a great place to look.