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TK Casquarelli’s – – something new in Croton-on-Hudson

Although the name may not be easy to pronounce, there is a new restaurant of note in Croton-on-Hudson. We are finding locals referring to it simply as TK’s. The restaurant is located within the Shop Rite Center at a corner spot.

The renovated color scheme and overall decor are calming…Sage green walls, tables with Kraft paper and softly lit. A certain change from Sophia’s, the previous pizzeria that occupied the space.

When you walk in, there is a bar to the left which has a nice wine selection, both by bottles and by the glass. They serve locally made beer on tap by Captain Lawrence Brewery in Pleasantville in addition to Peroni, and others. If you choose to sit at the bar you most likely will be served by Sylvan who is a trained mixologist. He has mentioned that he has some plans ahead for infused spirits to push us beyond the standard cocktail.

Ahead of you is a pizza station. Joe, is your pizza guy. His focus is just on the pizzas, flatbreads, and all things dough which fly out of his station. This is not your everyday pizza however. TK’s (we’ll just call it that) serves an interesting selection of flatbreads and pizzas in addition to the standard fare. For example, one interesting flat bread you can order is the fresh mozzarella (yes, they make it fresh there everyday!) which arrives with a delicious red sauce that is cooked down and oh so flavorful.  My favorite to date is the olive version with shaved red onions and just the right amount of cheese to accompany it. The crust has a crunch to it and is so light – – makes for a great starter.  They have so many interesting pizza offerings. One recent tasting included a shrimp scampi pizza. Absolutely delicious.

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If you really want a treat, order the Sicilian bites.  Soft yet slightly chewy little fluffy squares  – – almost focaccia like topped with the fresh mozzarella and the zippy tomato sauce. Mmmmmmm.

sicilian pie bitesFINAL

Local owners Chuck and Ursula Casquarelli wanted a place where people could come for easy going, yet interesting food, without having to travel too far. They are well on their way to already achieving their goal.  TK Casquarelli’s derives the “TK” from the first letter of each of their daughters’ first names.

I have enjoyed beginning the meal with a fresh salad.  One in particular that I enjoyed was baby arugula complemented by sliced pears and candied walnuts. The vinaigrette lightly coated the greens and the seasoning was very balanced.

Something a bit more decadent were the fried calamari. The crust is light and flaky and not oily whatsoever – – Almost a salt and pepper bite to it. The calamari were paired with a slightly spicy red sauce (think Fra Diavolo) and something even more interesting was a brilliantly green chimichurri sauce. The sauce is complex and I loved the heat component it delivered.

calamari with chimicurriFINAL

CIA trained and experienced chef, John Chevalier, brings his many years of culinary experience to TK’s. I could make many interesting meals just by eating my way through his appetizers and salads. I enjoyed egg battered slices of mozzarella which were lightly sautéed and paired with a reduced red sauce.

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Certainly there are times when we just want something quick and easy and of course a slice of pizza can handle that. In addition, they are serving sandwiches, but again, not just the ordinary. Try the Shrimp Ragazzo Povero (Po Boy) with the tomato mayo. Absolutely delicious, but be warned the portion size is enormous and can easily feed two.

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On one lunch visit, chef John surprised us with a fantastic taste of freshly sliced ripe tomatoes accompanied by a creamy ricotta drizzled in fruity olive oil. The colors were stunning and it was great to eat something so simple, yet so fresh.

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The perfect meal we shared one rainy evening was the baked lasagne. The pasta was tender and the sauce had just the right combination of interesting flavors and textures. Again, a substantial portion, so we happily ate that with a salad starter.

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Mostly a “winter dish”, at least with my upbringing, comes the pasta carbonara.  Traditionally made with spaghetti, Chef John, adds his own twist. He uses a spiraled pasta. Not everyone does this dish well, he does. The smoky pancetta is just the right amount and nicely crisped. The sauce is unctuous and creamy – – many think carbonara is made with cream, but in fact, it is finished with beaten eggs just at the end before serving. A decadent and tasty finish. He does this well.

carbonaraFINAL

TK Casquarelli’s is young and growing quickly. Certainly, as with all new businesses, there are some kinks to work out here and there. They have an interesting menu which caters to traditionalists around pizza and Italian food as well as new and forward thinking palates. We are happy to have discovered them and look forward to watching them thrive and keeping us well fed and happy.

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