It rained throughout May. And much of June. If this weather’s got you singing the blues, I’m suggesting a simple cure: food and fresh air as soon as there’s a break in the grey skies. Throw a blanket in the car and head to the Italian Food Center in West Haverstraw, about 30 miles north of NYC. Once you’ve packed your picnic, spend the afternoon at the spectacular, riverfront Haverstraw Bay Park.
Push past the 7-foot long, 591 lb. provolone that swings by the door and follow your nose to the counter at the Italian Food Center. Owner Luigi Savone will assist in assembling a cold antipasti: try the pepperoni and soppressata, marinated vegetables (olives, mushrooms and artichoke hearts) and a rice ball (much better than it sounds). Add a traditional Italian combo or a chicken cutlet with roasted peppers and homemade mozzarella, throw in a couple of Oranginas and you’re good to go.
Head north on 9W to the traffic light, make a right on Railroad Avenue and then turn right at the brown park sign, approximately 1 mile from the deli. Haverstraw Bay Park is a 27-acre gem located on the widest part of the Hudson River. Constructed and maintained by the County of Rockland, the park features playgrounds for toddlers and older children, a charming gazebo, plenty of picnic tables (covered and uncovered) and hibachi grills. The park also has a public boat launch and multiple fishing piers. Take a stroll along the river, savor the million-dollar view and pause for a moment to reflect at the park’s 9/11 memorial.
You’ll notice the shoreline is a bit unusual. Rather than traditional river rock or sand, the bay’s beach is composed of broken red brick washed smooth by the Hudson. These are remnants from the many factories that operated in the area during the 1800’s when Haverstraw was known as the “Brickmaking Capital of the World“. Take a piece with you as a souvenir because it’s highly unlikely that you’ll bring home any leftovers.
The Italian Food Center, 35 S. Route 9W, West Haverstraw, NY 10993 845-947-3794; closed on Wednesdays.