Tapas Bar Basks in its Success
Piermont’s Basque Goes Bicoastal with New Tarrytown Location
By James Carsey
Opening a restaurant can be grueling. It takes hard work, endless dedication, and the ability to roll with the punches.
Now imagine how much harder it would be to do that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Chef-Owner Benny Castro of Basque Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Piermont — a Rockland mainstay since 2018 — did a little more than imagine. Despite the labor shortage, supply chain issues, dining restrictions, and all the uncertainty plaguing the restaurant business in general, he opened a new Basque Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Westchester County’s Tarrytown a year ago — and it is doing quite well, thank you.
Castro experienced major challenges during the renovation phase. The supply chain debacle made it nearly impossible to find restaurant essentials like sinks, tables, and chairs.
“Three months into the expansion and we still didn’t even have any chairs. It was pretty wild, I’ve never been through anything like that before,” Castro said.
The results belie those troubles. The restaurant has a colorful, winning personality that announces itself as soon as you enter. Basque’s décor makes a strong and immediate first impression, with exposed brick walls and hardwood floors, plus a generous display of art on the walls, conveying a warm, casual vibe. Just off the dining room there is a small market space that sells authentic ingredients and products from Spain.
Castro’s motivation to expand Basque Tapas Bar and Restaurant with a second location is simple: he believes in the brand. He’s built the business from the ground up and had a strong feeling about setting up shop in Westchester County. When the Tarrytown location came up, he jumped at the opportunity.
Castro spent plenty of time in the trenches learning the business. While in his teens, he worked as a dishwasher, busboy, and cook, eventually graduating to manage restaurants and consult.
Castro’s father owned successful Spanish eateries in New York City, including the renowned El Quijote in Chelsea. “It’s in the blood. I grew up in these restaurants. It’s part of who I am,” Castro said.
What’s on the Menu?
Tapas and paella portions at Basque are bigger than customary. “You come to Basque and you have five tapas and you’re full. You spend half the price that you would eating tapas in Manhattan,” Castro said.
While true to the authentic flavors of Spain, the tapas boast a modern flair. The paella is made from scratch, so preparation may take a little longer but Castro says the taste is worth the few extra minutes.
Both Basque Piermont and Basque Tarrytown have received the Restaurants from Spain Certification from Foods and Wines from Spain, an international group that promotes authentic Spanish food across the globe.
Story by James Carsey
Photos by Kristin Sandgren-Jolain