Tacos on the Hudson

Executive Chef de Cuisine Jason Kooperman, Nick Citera and Corporate Executive Chef Matthew Sherry | PHOTOS BY LISA KELSEY

People who combine a passion for food with pride in their community can make beautiful — and delicious — things happen. When those people have a vision to bring back the storied past of a town like Newburgh, it’s especially thrilling.

One local architectural gem that had fallen into disrepair for the past half century is the West Shore Railroad Station, overlooking the Hudson on Water Street. The stately rose brick structure was built in 1909 by Warren and Wetmore, the same architectural firm that designed Grand Central Station. Now, thanks largely to a pair of native Newburghers, Nick Citera and Nicolas DiBrizzi of Cosimo Restaurant Group, the building’s former grandeur has been exquisitely restored. It begins a new life as Hudson Taco, a Mexican-fusion restaurant and drinking establishment. The owners hope that once again, locals and visitors alike will flock to the area to enjoy the dramatic riverside views and, of course, to dine.

People seeking an affordable place to live are relocating from New York City to towns like Newburgh, and they’re helping to drive revitalization. But Citera and DiBrizzi are no newcomers seeking to cash in on the action. Both have deep roots in the area. Cosimo group has several area restaurants and have developed numerous other properties. Citera serves on several boards, among them The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley. And the pair are committed to propelling the development of the city of Newburgh; they participated in a recent charrette (a type of urban planning process that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration) hosted by Leyland Alliance LLC to tackle some of the issues facing the city of Newburgh. “Doing our part to help the community thrive not only makes sense to us, we consider it a serious responsibility to the people that support our businesses,” says Citera. That includes highlighting products from local farms, ranches, vineyards, and breweries on their menus.

Citera and DiBrizzi were originally tenants at 27 Water Street. In 2011 they opened the popular Pizza Shop which is also housed in the former station. In 2014 they acquired the whole building and began a major reconstruction of the main space next door in the summer of 2018.

Looking at it now, the miracle of it’s current status isn’t immediately apparent. Taking a decrepit train station — even a formerly beautiful one — and turning it into a place where you want to get together with friends to share a meal is no easy task.

Start with the challenge of making a cavernous space warm and inviting: yes, there’s a lot of exposed brick, much of it in cool herringbone or soldier patterns. But the building is a former train station after all, with a soaring ceiling and an open floor plan. The choice of materials, locally made whenever possible, was crucial to create the right atmosphere. Polished concrete floors featuring a huge version of the restaurant logo, glazed ceramic brick in rich earth tones, and black and white subway tile in the kitchen prep area complement the exposed original brick surfaces. (Even the original brick was locally sourced, from the now defunct Rose Brick Company just a few miles north of the station).

A patchwork of reclaimed barn wood covers the chimney stack. Basket-like pendant lamps fashioned out twisted rope have a subtle nautical feel and bring the light to a cozy level over the bar. Chandeliers reminiscent of whiskey barrel hoops, festooned with elongated, vintage-looking light bulbs hang in other spots. The addition of an all-season patio takes full advantage of one of the site’s best features, a sweeping view of the Hudson and the Highlands mountain range across the river. The sixty foot space is outfitted with huge windows that will open by collapsing in on themselves accordion-style to let in a cool riverside breeze when weather permits.

Executive Chef de Cuisine Jason Kooperman, Nick Citera and Corporate Executive Chef Matthew Sherry