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From Hell's Kitchen To Piermont

 

Arturo Lepore, the chef and owner of Piermont's Confetti, is committed to cooking dishes "the same way they are cooked in Italy."

 

Piermont's Confetti has a story that begins in a troubled metropolitan neighborhood.

Confetti chef and owner Arturo Lepore grew up in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, an area in midtown known for its tenement housing and turbulent role in the history of New York City.

In 1959, Lepore's father and uncle opened a pizzeria in Hell's Kitchen called Mimi'sLepore, just 12-years-old at the time, was in the kitchen grating cheese on opening day.

But he was a fast learner: a few years later he was hired as a prep cook by Giodano's, a neighborhood Italian restaurant. From there on out he continued to climb the culinary ladder: at 19 he joined Lapacean upscale Italian restaurant—as a pasta chef, training under respected restaurateur and chef Tony May.

In his early 20s, Lepore went to work as sous chef at a resplendent restaurant called The Opera in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, where he learned to cook international dishes like pheasant and quail.

Next, Lepore joined La Pitite Aubergea classic French restaurant in Cresskill, New Jersey, and worked for chef Jean Breque who was formerly the executive chef at New York City's Maxwell's Plum.

(Maxwell's Plum was a famous First-Avenue restaurant that mixed food and flamboyance in the mid-1960s and won a four-star rating from The New York Times.)

In 1980, Lepore and his twin brother Steve opened a 70-seat restaurant in Norwood, New Jersey called ConfettiFive years later, when they needed larger space, they upgraded to a 275-seat restaurant called Parmigiano in Old Tappan, New Jersey, often preparing 500 or more meals a night.

After Parmigiano, it seemed like the end of restaurant ventures; Lepore's brother retired 2007, and Lepore one year later.

But when he strolled past by Pasta Amore in Piermont this year, the owner called out to Lepore in jest.

"Arturo, buy my place," the owner joked. "Get back in the business."

Lepore laughed, but shortly afterwards he realized his sons, Joseph and Sam, were serious about pursuing careers as restaurateurs. So he decided to come out of retirement and bought Pasta Amore from its owner. A major redesign was undertaken by architect Martin Santini.

From the start, Lepore decided that Confitti would offer authentic Italian dishes and cook meals "the same way they are cooked in Italy."

New menu in preparation (and some suggestions from the chef)

This October, Lepore will introduce a new fall/winter menu. The menu is still in the planning stages, Lepore said, so the following preview may be subject to change.

At this point, it looks like veal chop—an old-time Confetti favorite—will go on the menu. Another addition is a pasta dish with duck ragu sauce (the homemade noodle has yet to be determined, Lepore said). The lasagna will undergo a change, too, but exactly how this will be accomplished hasn't been decided yet either; a pasta with almonds now on the menu will be dropped.

Branzino (sea bass) is one of Confetti's most popular main courses, and it remains on the menu. It can be ordered whole or filleted, but Lepore recommends choosing the whole-fish option. Spada(swordfish) will be replaced by striped bass and/or halibut.

Lamb osso bucco will bow in on the new menu but Tagliata, a sirloin steak, gives way to filet mignon in red wine sauce. Vitello Saltimbocca (sauteed veal with prosciuttto di parma and sage in a marsala sauce over spinach) stays on the menu.

Rabbit will be offered on occasion as a special. Other game will also appear from time to time as specials, including venison, pheasant and possibly quail. New to the appetizer list will be a Venetian version of  sardines and Cipollini onions and also cannelloni and shrimp with onions. Boar salami will become an antipasti choice.

One dish that is certainly sticking around is Lepore's favorite, Chicken Country Stylea combination of chicken, sausage, peppers, potatoes and onions in a sweet and sour sauce.

"It has layers and layers of flavor," he said.

Much of the food at Confetti is homemade including the bread, pasta and desserts, Lepore added. Confetti buys its flour from suppliers in Italy.

Some of Lepore's inspiration has come from trips to Italy—he recently visited a wine show in Verona and attended a food show in Palma looking for cheeses, condiments and meats.

Confetti is located at 200 Ash Street in Piermont. It opens for lunch seven days a week at noon, and remains open until 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sunday. 

(845) 365-1911